Huston, we have a problem in Tustin

As we reported last night (thank you tipsters!), William Huston, the retired city manager for Tustin, was named interim city manager on a 3-1-1 vote with Mayor Jerry Amante’s Republican majority all voting in lockstep and council member Deborah Gavello voting no and council member Becky Gomez abstaining.

Huston gave an in-depth interview to the Voice of OC when he retired last fall; there’s a bit of Q&A regarding whether city managers are overpaid or not. But now that he’s double-dipping, that would be for Tustin taxpayers to decide.

Huston retired last fall.  Huston is slated to get $165 an hour; for an 8 hour day, that’s $6,600 a week based on a 40 hour week.  If he’s there a year, call it a 48 week year with vacation and holidays, the package is more than $300K annually.  And he’ll still be able to draw on his pension while receiving an hourly rate, though according to Woolery, PERS has a cut off and Huston won’t exceed it.

Woolery believes Huston was approached about the job by Mayor Amante and is confirming that detail. It’s not clear if Amante sought the advice and counsel of other members of the Tustin city council. We’ll take a wild guess and say “no.”

Tustin taxpayers are still on the hook to pay outgoing City Manager David Biggs $187,500 in severance to do nothing.  So all told, Tustin taxpayers are likely on the hook for about a half-million dollars when you factor in Huston’s new pay with Bigg’s golden umbrella, all because Mayor Amante couldn’t work with a city manager who beat out 55 candidates and was hired on a 5-0 vote about six months ago – yeah, is that Jerry Amante a fiscal conservative or what!

This gem from the story in today’s OC Register:

Mayor Jerry Amante, after the closed session meeting, stated that the relationship between the City Council and the city manager was unsatisfactory. Amante said that members of the City Council cannot make any other statement to members of the public, media or other employees regarding the termination of Biggs’ employment.”

Jerry’s statement should really read, “the relationship between the mayor and the city manager was unsatisfactory.” And if a member of the city council thought Biggs was a good city manager, as Council member Deborah Gavello did in her newsletter to residents, criticism of a decision by a council member of the council majority seems to be fair game.

I’m still waiting for an answer on why Tustin’s legal fees nearly tripled since 2005.

  4 comments for “Huston, we have a problem in Tustin

  1. angry tustin resident
    March 16, 2011 at 2:41 pm

    Last night, Amante had a bad night. His continued vendetta against this resident and his property ended last night when the council voted 3-2 to accept the resolution to deny Amante’s appeal. Last night he pulled out a paper, provided by the sewer dept, showing that there was only one connection to the property. He used this as “irrefutable evidence” to uphold his appeal. Councilwoman Gomez blew a hole in his evidence. Council woman Garvello made a motion to accept the denial of the appeal. Amante assummed that councilman Al would go along with him and Nielsen to defeat the motion. However, Al voted for the resolution. It is time to recall Amante.

  2. for a better tustin
    March 17, 2011 at 10:14 am

    I’m sure Amante told his puppet John Nielsen that he would remove his (Nielsens) wife as head of the Tustin Foundation if he did not play ball—Amante does own Nielsen

  3. Ltpar
    March 17, 2011 at 4:44 pm

    Dan, I wonder if this article would have been written if Tustin were controlled by liberals, like we have in Irvine? Do you think for one second, if Irvine City Manager Joyce crossed your buddy Larry Agran, he wouldn’t meet the same fate as David Biggs? Any doubt to Agrans vindictiveness just ask Chris Mears or the late Dave Christensen.

    Getting the ax from elected officials, deserved or not, is part of the risk of being a City Manager, or even Police Chief and comes with the territory. Three votes and you are out the door.

    On Huston double dipping. Since he is retired from PERS he is only allowed to work 960 hours per year for a PERS contracting agency. Chances are good that the hourly wage quoted is within the market of what Consultants get. I am also guessing there are no roll up costs (benefits), although that is allowable under PERS.

    Huston was an efficient and long term City Manager and I understand why the Council feels comfortable with him. Chances are he will be on the job for six months, or until Tustin can hire a headhunter firm to find a new Manager.

    • angry tustin resident
      March 17, 2011 at 9:06 pm

      Although Irvine has its own issues, Amante has always said that he is a tax crusader, yet he willing decided to fire the city manager after 5 months, therby costing the city at least 187,000 of tax payer monies. Also, he and his lap dogs cost the city a multi-million dollar lawsuit on a property transaction by the 55 fwy. Let us not also forget that Amante was the pointman in the lawsuits between the city and the school district. Another waste of tax payer money to satisfy his insatiable ego!!

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