Credibility counts in hiring city manager

Here in North County the Marines at Camp Pendleton live by a code where honor is holding themselves and others accountable. For the Marines defending our liberty and in our elected officials, credibility counts.
On April 1 the Encinitas City Council will begin final interviews of city manager candidates to evaluate their ethics, integrity and belief in open government.
Maybe we should evaluate the council. My dad says “Talk is cheap.’” From the following quotes listed on the city’s job posting, consider and compare the candidate requirements the council wants with the council’s action.
“A professional with the highest integrity and ethics who embraces open government and transparency.”
Ex-Mayor Dalager pleads guilty to violating open government laws and failed to make transparent a $100,000 loan. Deputy Mayor Stocks says, “Dalager served the community well.”
Bond and Stocks endorse Dalager. Gaspar supporters run a side-by-side campaign with Dalager. Gaspar comes under criticism for campaign mailers featuring her with Dalager.
City Manager Cotton agrees to a “total base salary.”
Behind closed doors, the council approves Cotton an unearned extra paycheck.
Did Stocks, Bond and Gaspar embrace the highest ethics, integrity and transparency?
“Exhibits sound judgment”
Council ignored taxpayers and approved a 35 percent benefits increase. Stocks wrote an editorial justifying the giveaway to the city employee Service Employee International Union.
Council took out a $20 million bond to fund the budget. Council spent $23 million to buy the Hall property and taxpayers got a vacant field for nine years and counting. Did the council exhibit sound judgment?
“Innovative and focused on the future”
Taxpayers don’t want to pay another city manager’s pension. Cotton gets a reported $6,400 monthly. Taxpayers went to City Hall and told the council to give the new city manager a 401K. Getting the new manager off the public dole sets a strong example to the city employee union in negotiations. The city manager would have “credibility.”
Instead, the council is offering the new city manager a taxpayer-funded lifetime pension at age 55. Is offering the same old pension plan innovative?
Recruitment has lacked transparency. Public input was of little value as the company looking for candidates stopped recruiting seven working days after getting comments. The agenda packet given to the public at the update meeting failed to disclose the pension. The pension was never discussed in public. We could have demanded a manager willing to fund a private retirement like most of us.
Some speculate that a handpicked candidate supporting the developer special interest was chosen a long time ago. Ninety percent of the posted candidate requirements lack specifics. Some say this is intentional. For example, the new Palo Alto librarian needs 10 years’ experience in library management. The only definitive requirement for the city manager is they hold a MS degree.
Successful leaders like George Washington have credibility because of their actions. I am sure our next city manager will talk a good game during interviews about open government and ethics. Let’s hope they have the credibility to back it up. We have heard that story before. Talk is cheap.


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