On Friday evening at 5 pm, the Davis City Council for the first time formally met to discuss the interim replacement for City Manager Steve Pinkerton, who last week formally accepted the job offer to become General Manager at Incline Village. Mr. Pinkerton announced that his last day will be April 28, 2014.
The council met behind closed doors to discuss the personnel matter and establish the ground rules for (A) replacing Mr. Pinkerton with an interim city manager and (B) selecting a permanent replacement.
On Monday, the city released a statement through City Attorney Harriet Steiner. The statement read, “The Davis City Council met in closed session Friday evening to discuss the recruitment of a city manager to replace Steve Pinkerton. The Council also discussed the appointment of an interim city manager for the period between the end of April, when Steve Pinkerton is leaving to take a new position in Incline Village, and the appointment of a new city manager.”
Ms. Steiner continued, “The Council unanimously reached the following decisions: The Council determined to engage a search firm for assistance in hiring the new city manager. The Council directed staff to bring back to them, preferably at the February 25, 2014 council meeting, a proposed contract to engage Ralph Anderson & Associates, which is the same search firm the Council used to engage Steve Pinkerton. Using the same firm will expedite the process as the recruiter and the search firm are familiar with the City and its goals and objectives.”
“The Council also determined that, in light of the upcoming June election, the recruitment process could start as soon as possible, but the final decision to hire a new city manager would be made after the June election,” she said, thus allowing at least one new councilmember who will be elected in June to have a say in who the next permanent city manager will be.
Finally, she said, “The Council determined that its preference is to engage an interim city manager who is not a current city employee. The Council has directed staff to reach out to potential external candidates and to seek input for possible interim candidates from the search firm. The Council would like to meet candidates in the next few weeks with the goal of having a qualified person on board before Steve Pinkerton leaves.”
She added, “This process and time line will assist in a smooth transition to an interim city manager and then to the appointment of a new city manager after the June election.”
By going the external route, the city is acknowledging that whoever becomes the interim city manager, will not be hired to be the full time city manager. Generally speaking, candidates for interim city manager would be retired annuitants.
A retired annuitant is a retiree who is hired by either a former employer or a new employer that participates in the same retirement system as the former employer. CalPERS has very strict rules guiding retired annuitants, due to previous abuses where retired employees would “double-dip.”
The retired annuitant would not acquire any additional service time and your temporary employment cannot exceed 960 hours, or just under six months.
In short, if the city brings on a retired annuitant to fill the interim position, they are committing to have a new city manager in place by October.
As we noted last week, most of the senior staff in the city is already tied up with critical work, and we argued that a short-timer, one who has no stake in the game and could step in from the end of April until September or October when the city can hire a permanent city manager, would be able to take on some additional tough issues without having to worry about upsetting the power structure, losing their job or not getting hired permanently.
An internal pick would likely take the position with the thought in mind of being permanent city manager, and that would make them vulnerable to internal and community pressure.
On the other hand, in a piece written by key business leaders, Jennifer Nitzkowski, Michael Bisch and Alan Humason on Sunday, they argued, “The person at the helm of the City’s affairs must have a firm understanding of our community, proven leadership and problem solving skills, innovative thinking, a command of public relations, and the will to practice transparent governance; all other qualities pale in comparison.”
They add, “We need a City Manager who will keep Councilmembers focused on adopting and implementing solutions to the primary fiscal and economic challenges we face and will work to prevent the City Council from being distracted by less pressing matters.”
They conclude, “Creating and fostering a socially, environmentally, and economically sustainable community is a challenging endeavor. The Davis Chamber of Commerce, Davis Downtown, the Yolo County Visitors Bureau and the entire business community stand ready, willing and able to work collaboratively with all stakeholder groups to overcome today’s challenges while planning for a bright future for our deserving community.”
But first the city has to get there, and that requires finding someone who can lead the city in the interim period. The council has selected a process to go forward, it would appear, with an external pick and, in the next few weeks, we will have a more focused idea of what that looks like.
—David M. Greenwald reporting