Just when we thought that Davis would not be hiring a new city manager until after the break, late yesterday night came the breaking news from Mayor Joe Krovoza, announcing that Davis has hired Steve Pinkerton, the current City Manager of Manteca, California, as Davis’ new city manager, pending the formal contract approval process.
Mr. Pinkerton succeeds Bill Emlen, who accepted a position with Solano County last September after serving four-and-a-half years as city manager. The Davis City Council will take formal action to appoint Mr. Pinkerton and approve his contract at the next City Council meeting scheduled for the morning of Monday, August 1st.
“I am delighted to announce the selection of Steve Pinkerton as the City of Davis’s next city manager,” said Mayor Joe Krovoza in a press release late Tuesday night, following the meeting behind closed doors.
“Steve has a very broad skill set that will guarantee Davis thrives in these challenging times,” the Mayor added. “His experience in budget and organizational issues will serve us well, as will his expertise in planning, water, economic development and establishing partnerships with public and private entities. Steve’s references spoke of his exceptional integrity and his ability to unify divergent interests. He stood out in a field of exceptional candidates, and I know he gets – and is excited to work in – the uniqueness that is Davis, California.”
Steve Pinkerton has nearly 30 years of experience in California local government, including the past 3 years as Manteca’s City Manager. Prior to his service in Manteca, Mr. Pinkerton spent 13 years leading Stockton’s revitalization efforts. Mr. Pinkerton has also held managerial positions for the southern California cities of Long Beach and Redondo Beach.
“I’m thrilled to have this opportunity to serve the citizens of Davis,” said Mr. Pinkerton. “I can’t wait to work with this dynamic City Council and a city staff that has such an outstanding reputation. As the son of a professor of urban sociology, I grew up in a college town and have always wanted the opportunity to work in the unique environment of a host city for a large, world-class university such as UC Davis.”
“The Council and I want to express our deep appreciation for the tireless dedication of our Interim City Manager, Paul Navazio, and all of our department heads and staff during the transition,” added Mayor Krovoza. “It was our confidence in Paul’s ability that allowed us to take the time we needed to conduct a thorough search. Paul Navazio guided us on key aspects of major issues, including our new budget, water supply and treatment, fighting to keep our Redevelopment Agency, and initiating the hotel and conference center project.”
Added Krovoza, “I also want to thank my colleagues – Sue Greenwald, Rochelle Swanson, Stephen Souza and Dan Wolk. The selection process demanded everyone’s further dedication of time, but the result is a great one in that we are a stronger, more focused council, with a super new city manager to lead our great staff.”
One of the key issues was the compensation package to Mr. Pinkerton. There was concern about the quality of city manager the city could get, given the fact that the city is currently near the bottom in salary for city managers and given that employees are being asked to sacrifice, given the budget crisis.
Mr. Pinkerton’s salary represents a modest increase of nearly $30,000 over his predecessor Bill Emlen. Mr. Pinkerton’s salary, as proposed, will be $188,000 per year.
However, Mayor Pro Tem Rochelle Swanson was quick to point out that, while the salary was an increase over Mr. Emlen’s salary and over Mr. Pinkerton’s current salary at the City of Manteca, the total compensation is structured in such a way that it represents only a $3500 increase over Bill Emlen’s last full year’s total compensation in 2009.
The proposed contract includes provisions that he will pay two percent of the eight percent employee contribution towards his pension and is required to take three unpaid furlough days in the upcoming fiscal year.
Steve Pinkerton’s salary and benefits may be modified to maintain consistency with changes in compensation for all management employees. He will not receive any city contribution towards a deferred compensation plan and will not receive any auto or technology allowance. He also gets no opportunity for Cafeteria Cash out.
The Mayor also addressed this issue in a statement to the Vanguard, “We kept costs essentially consistent with where Emlen was in 2009, and way below the $216K average for CMs in the area.”
He added, “There is one report that Pinkerton was getting $165K in Manteca. There’s a way that was calculated, but it’s not correct. His contract was $230K but he had taken cuts commensurate with what others were taking.”
According to the press release from the city, Steve Pinkerton took the helm in Manteca (population 68,410) just as San Joaquin County was becoming the foreclosure capital of the United States. Property values were dropping, municipal revenues were plummeting, and Manteca was facing a future of annual General Fund budget deficits exceeding 35 percent of total revenues.
Three years later, through a combination of staffing consolidations, increased operational efficiencies and an aggressive economic development strategy, Manteca has adopted a balanced budget for the coming fiscal year.
Clearly this history is what drew the council to Mr. Pinkerton.
During his tenure in Stockton, Mr. Pinkerton was responsible for developing and implementing many of the city’s successful revitalization strategies, including Stockton’s national and state award-winning downtown revitalization strategy and the Mayor’s Strong Neighborhood Initiative, which has invested nearly $100 million of public improvements in the community’s most blighted areas.
Mr. Pinkerton also administered the city’s affordable housing program, oversaw the expansion of the city’s Central Parking District, and developed the Neighborhood Services Division to transform code enforcement into a tool to enhance neighborhood improvement efforts.
Steve Pinkerton, age 51, holds a Bachelor of Arts degrees in Economics and Geography from the University of Missouri-Columbia, as well as a Master of Arts degrees in Economics and Planning from the University of Southern California.
He is an active father of four children, ranging in age from 2 to 18. His wife, Audrey Winters, is a founding partner in an environmental law firm that works solely with local public entities, emphasizing brownfields redevelopment.
Mayor Pro Tem Rochelle Swanson told the Vanguard last night that she was impressed by the quality of the pool of applicants that Davis had to choose from, and believes that Mr. Pinkerton is arriving at the right time as Davis embarks on a serious of important changes. Mr. Pinkerton, she said, will act as a fresh set of eyes overseeing reform efforts.
Councilmembers Dan Wolk and Sue Greenwald did not respond to requests for comment on Tuesday night.
Mayor Joe Krovoza told the Vanguard, late in the evening, that they had run a very methodical process that, in the end, worked out as they had hoped.
“The council was very disciplined,” the Mayor said. “We hired an excellent recruitment firm and got a great pool. We narrowed an excellent pool.”
The Mayor was particularly proud that they were able to avoid keeping the process from becoming a circus. “We sought public input but didn’t turn the process into a circus of rumors and speculation,” he added.
Mr. Krovoza told the Vanguard that, while Davis is in a far better position than Manteca in terms of foreclosures and declining revenues, he hopes that Mr. Pinkerton’s experience will help guide Davis in its transition moving forward.
“Steve managed a place with spiraling declines in revenue,” Joe Krovoza said, “Davis is in a far, far better position, but what he has learned will be a great in guiding us forward.”
“Steve has broad experience in key areas of key interest to us — redevelopment, development agreements, CA water issues, neighborhood programs, and labor,” he said.
Mr. Krovoza was also quick to praise the work of interim City Manager Paul Navazio, “Paul did a super job as our interim — far, far more than any Council might expect from someone filling in. We are in his debt.”
I will have a much fuller commentary in the coming days. Earlier this week, I noted that the city manager had not been filled and that this was a huge hole and challenge for the council to move forward.
Obviously, we will not know what we have until the end. I can say that there were three excited councilmembers that I communicated with last night. There is a belief that Mr. Pinkerton has the skill set to move Davis forward in the areas of budget management, labor costs, restructuring of departments, redevelopment and economic development.
This is a challenging time. Mr. Pinkerton will have the month of August to get ready for the gauntlet he will have to run with employee cuts in September, and probably at least the consideration of restructuring the fire department.
In their goal of changing the way this city does business, the council needed a fresh new perspective and a strong leader. Time will tell whether they have that individual.
—David M. Greenwald reporting