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By David Warren–
The main difference between nepotism, the practice among those with power or influence of favoring relatives or friends, especially by giving them jobs, and cronyism, the appointment of friends and associates to positions of authority, without proper regard to their qualifications, is unimportant when it comes to the hiring and advancement of employees based upon favoritism.
The secretive process which the city has adopted for selecting the successor to City Manager Christopher Boyd raises concerns of cronyism and favoritism.
On May 11, Boyd announced his immediate retirement, at which time he was rehired as a retired annuitant. This allowed Boyd to simultaneously receive $128 per hour as an employee and Boyd’s full retirement benefits, i.e., double dipping.
Boyd had informed some municipal employees weeks before about his plan to retire, but did not inform the City Council to start a search for a replacement prior to his announcement, leaving the city no alternative. Boyd had previously hired another retired annuitant to replace the deputy city manager, Rhonda Rivera, who unceremoniously left on short notice, paying the replacement wages similar to that paid the Folsom city manager.
The city only posted the notice to hire a replacement city manager on the city’s website without an explanation as to why it was not also sent to the California City Management Foundation (hereafter “CCMF”) jobs website. Instead, the city directed Boyd to create an RFP (request for proposal) to hire a search firm to locate a replacement. Boyd did not complete the RFP for more than two months, continuing his double dipping. Why has the city refused to post the job with CCMF?
Of even greater concern is: how and who will choose which candidates will be presented to the City Council for consideration is being kept secret?
The lack of a job posting is evidence that the city has refused to make public the minimum qualifications for the position, by way of example: at least five years-experience as a city or deputy city manager, a master’s degree in public administration, management of a city of similar population size, familiarity with California laws and regulations, etc.
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To ensure impartiality, a citizen’s panel must be appointed, one each by City Council members, to review applications, resumes and proof of education — not unknown contractors or a city employee — to select the applicants to be submitted to the city council for final determination. No one making a recommendation should have any financial or employment relationship with any of the potential referrals to the City Council.
The city should only hire the best replacement it can afford. It is important to note after checking the state website which reports city managers’ salaries, you will see that Boyd is paid more than city managers employed by cities with a similar population (Tracy $254,800, Redding $221,340, Folsom $251,125, Rancho Cordova $245,859). This mistake must not be repeated.
Citrus Heights is currently insolvent (1) if its deferred road repairs and maintenance obligations and (2) the inability to meet current payroll but for the pandemic aid package payment to the city in the amount of approximately $7 million this year and next year are included in the city’s financial reports.
The city’s May proposed budget for the next two fiscal years terminated not only the Police Department’s special teams, but also significant police staff. Without receipt of the $7 million federal infusion, the city would not have been able to provide positions for many of the city’s police officers. However, because of the city’s fiscal instability, experienced officers are unlikely to make a lateral transfer which means that it will take at least six months for rookie police officers to be trained to begin filling all the funded vacancies.
Council members blame the failure of the sales tax increase measure as the cause of the city’s fiscal problems. However, the incorporators indicated there would come a time after incorporation that the city would have insufficient income to meet expenses, so the city set aside a reserve through the years. Unfortunately, the city spent that reserve to pay cash for the new City Hall.
The successful nominee must be an individual with the intestinal fortitude to publicly object to similar fiscal mistakes to insure past fiscal irresponsibility is not repeated.
If the City Council selects an insufficiently qualified individual as Boyd’s successor, which three councilmembers appear intent upon doing, Citrus Heights may well follow Stockton, Vallejo and San Bernardino into a Chapter 9 bankruptcy proceeding, with similar consequences of loss of police and municipal services along with a potential spike in crime as occurred in Stockton, Vallejo and San Bernardino.
Make your voices heard that the city hire only a qualified individual as the new city manager, not a predetermined anointed successor.
David Warren is a Citrus Heights resident and legislative advocate at the State Capitol with Taxpayers for Public Safety, and can be reached at David@forpublicsafety.com.
*Publisher’s note: The Sentinel on Thursday requested confirmation of whether a job posting for the city manager position has been published. The city’s communications officer responded that: “The City is in the process of selecting a recruitment firm for the executive search of the City Manager role. Once finalized, a full suite of materials will be widely advertised as part of the recruitment process.”
*The Sentinel welcomes guest commentary from residents about local issues. Submit a letter to the editor or opinion column for publication: Click here
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