Acting City Manager Greg Showerman is about to become Manteca’s next Community Development Director.
The City Council when they meet tonight at 7 o’clock at the Civic Center, 1001 W. Center St., is being asked to approve Showerman for the job.
If the council makes the appointment it opens up questions of what Manteca’s next move will be regarding top leadership at a critical juncture when growth is ramping up, negotiations are continuing for a water park resort hotel, and the city is in the middle of its budgeting process.
It is the latest in the chain reaction of events that started when City Manager Elena Reyes was put on administrative leave 14 weeks ago after a number of personal complaints from city workers were lodged against her. Those complaints are working their way through a legal process established to protect all parties involved — Reyes, the complaining employees, and the city.
Prior to previous City Manager Karen McLaughlin retiring in July, Frederic Clark gave notice of his intent to retire as Community Development Director. McLaughlin declined to conduct a search for his replacement believing the new city manager should put his or her own team in place when upper level management vacancies opened up. Clark offered to stay on as a consultant until his replacement was hired.
Within a week of Reyes taking over as city manager, she told the council the job was essentially too much for her and that she needed immediate help in the form of a deputy city manager and a second administrative assistant.
That is when Reyes pulled Showerman from the Public Works Department on what was supposed to have been a temporary assignment until Reyes was able to conduct a search and hire a permanent deputy city manager. That created a staffing issue for Public Works that is juggling a number of major street upgrade projects, two interchange projects, modernization of the wastewater treatment plant digesters, putting in place a $29 million food to fuel system, recycled wastewater plan, ground water sustainability planning, moving forward with updating the city’s storm system, building a solar farm at the wastewater treatment plant, as well as day to day business which also includes work involved with new development.
Public Works left
Showerman was the Deputy Director of Public Works for Engineering when Reyes pulled him into the city manager’s office leaving Public Works Director Mark Houghton short-handed.
A month later on Aug. 31 Clark— considered by his peers to be calm, level-headed and professional — abruptly resigned as a consultant penning s scathing letter slamming Reyes’ management style.
That is when Reyes brought in Jeff Hightower who has just recently retired from a similar position in Riverbank to serve as the interim Community Development Director. Like Clark, Hightower under California Public Employees Retirement System rules can only work for so many days in a fiscal year as a consultant with a government agency without jeopardizing his pension.
Under the rules he can’t work much past midway through this month.
Meanwhile when the recruiting for the community development director position opened Showerman applied.
Then in the last week of November several days before Reyes was going to name her picks for police chief and fire chief that city managers simply advise the council they are making given the only employees on the management team the city council hires is the city manager and city attorney, the council abruptly placed Reyes on paid administrative leave. At that time the council tapped Showerman to serve as acting city manager while the Reyes situation was being sorted out.
The hiring process for police chief, fire chief and community development director moved forward.
Showerman last month hired Jodie Estarziau as police chief and Kyle Shipherd as fire chief. It wasn’t clear whether the two were Reyes’ choices as that information was never made public when she essentially was temporarily stripped of the power to make such a decision when she was put on administrative leave.
Meanwhile the outside panel rating community development director candidates — Bob Murray & Associates — ranked the applicants. Joe Kriskovich, Manteca’s Director of Human Resources and Risk Management, noted that the recruiting firm determined “Showerman was one of the candidates that met/or exceeded the job requirements,”
As acting city manager the Manteca Municipal Code gives Showerman the authority to appoint the community development director. There is no language in the code that prevents him from appointing himself.
To avoid an awkward situation from becoming more awkward the City Council tonight is being asked to make that decision.
Showerman was one
of the top candidates
Kriskovich’s memo makes it clear that Showermnan met or exceeded requirements but it doesn’t say where he was ranked. Normally the city manager conducts interviews of the candidates that clear the panels and then makes the decision on who to hire. It is not mentioned in the memo that was presented to the council whether Showerman made the determination to recommend himself or if someone else did.
Sources indicated that Showerman has shown no interest in applying to become the permanent city manager should that position open up.
Should the council appoint Showerman tonight it would allow the city to start recruiting for a permanent replacement for Deputy Director of Engineering for Public Works — the position Showerman held prior to being pulled into the city manager’s office.
Public Works is also looking to replace the department’s Deputy Director of Public Works John Clymo who took another job two months ago. Clymo was the architect of the city’s $29 million food to fuel system that will be operational by early 2019.
What happens next?
The memo does not mention how the city will move forward if Showerman gets the community development job.
Hightower still has a few days left that he can work.
The council could look for another consultant or tap an existing planning staffer to run the department on an interim basis until Showerman can take over the job.
He could also handle both jobs. That option as well as having someone on staff handle the director’s job on an interim basis would likely slow down project processing at a time the city is trying to expedite three major distribution center style buildings including the 5.11 Tactical project.
There is also the question of the city manager’s job.
Whether Reyes can function after the investigation into complaints against her are completed regardless of how it turns out is a serious question.
That means the city could look for an interim city manager to fill the post while they look for a permanent replacement.
The council can’t consider either option until Reyes’ status is resolved.
Reyes collects $51,000 & counting for not working
Under Reyes’ contract she could not be terminated for any reason until after Feb. 5, 2017. That’s because the contract she signed states the city manager can’t be terminated during the 90-day period before or after a City Council election.
The contract allows for her termination without cause only by an affirmative four-fifths vote of the City Council. If she is terminated while still willing and able to perform the duties of city manager she will receive a lump sum payment equal to 12 months of her salary. Her annual salary is $191,800.
Should Reyes be terminated without cause or for cause, any final check could include as much as $43,800 for accrued vacation and sick leave.
Even though Reyes has only been employed for less than eight months, the contract the council approved allowed Reyes to start with 240 hours of accrued sick leave hours, and 160 hours of accrued vacation hours. In addition, on the day she started— based on contract language — she started “accruing sick leave and vacation leave on a monthly basis, at a minimum, at the highest rate provided or available to other employees, under the same rules and provisions applicable to the most senior Executive Management.”
That translates into accruing 15.3 hours of vacation each month. She also is entitled to 120 hours of administrative leave for each year of the contract. She continues to accrue vacation while on paid administrative leave. That means she has added at least 46 hours to her vacation said while she is being paid not to work.
She has pocked at least $51,638 since being placed on administrative leave.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email email@example.com