Interviewing Tips for City Manager Candidates in Tustin

Veteran city council watchers tell us the Tustin City Council is in the midst of interviews for its new City Manager to replace the 3 months and out David Biggs (who beat out 55 other candidates and was hired on a 5-0 city council vote last year0. So not only has the city wasted tens of thousands of dollars on Biggs severance package – and any city would be lucky to have the services of Mr. Biggs — but also money spent on recruiters that presented 55 candidates.

There’s another story after this one at the bottom; stuff worth noting.

The rumor mill in Tustin is that Biggs ran afowl of Mayor Jerry Amante when it came to the lawsuit with TUSD, but the city’s contract with Biggs prohibits any of the principals from confirming it.

So, we’re not sure just where the city council is in the Interview process, but for any of those candidates who think thyey have a shot at getting the job, we present these interview tips:

1. Flatter Mayor Amante. Remind him of how smart, how right and how funny he is at every opportunity.  Tell him you busted a gut over that Late Night parody video he did on the State of the City address.  Just know that he has most of the city staff terrified and just make it easy on yourself to agree with everything Amante says until he’s termed out and no longer runs the city…directly.

2. Watch your back about dealing with those Amante doesn’t like; folks in Old Town, the Rotary, and TUSD. 

3.  Expect Amante to utter things from the dias he believes to be fact without a shread of evidence to support it depending on the issue (see our posts on the recall for details)

4. Negotiate a great severance package should you run afowl the Mayor; he has the votes needed to fire you at any time.

5. Spend the majority of 2012 noting how to run the city differently once Amante leaves office.


So now that the threat of the recall is over, Mayor Amante is back to his usual old nasty backbiting rude self.  The video of the last council meeting is a signed confession of it.  We’re back to the inconsistencies in how Council members are addressed.  If you’re one of his pals, you get the right title.  If you’re Council members Deborah Gavello or Beckie Gomez, it’s Ms. this and Ms. that.  At one point in the meeting, Amante confused the two and at another point called Gavello “councilman” (get new glasses Jerry).

Weeks after we asked for public records detailing the city’s cost savings of converting from paper to iPads and the city being unable to ascertain how much in paper savings the conversion benefitted taxpayers, Amante presented some hard data that city staff was unable to.  Go to the 2:13 mark of the video for the King’s Speech. 

According to Amante, the average agenda packet has 578 pages for 20 meetings a year and it sounds like staff prepares between 10-15 copies each for various officials and offices.  So a single person is responsible for 23 reems of paper plus toner and copying and staff time to prepare.  Now this is fascinating data that Tustin’s city staff was unable to produce a few weeks ago.  But according to Amante, the iPad just eliminates all that staff time that can be used for other things.

The Mayor is a technology luddite.  The first example of this is the Mayor’s claims that iPads were cheaper than Laptops.  Not the ones the city bought for the council.  There’s this store in the Tustin Marketplace and Tustin Legacy called “Best Buy.”  Jerry could stop by and do some research himself. You can buy a very nice laptop for less than $500.

Documents still need to be prepared and some items might not be copied, but are scanned, documents need to be created, edited and formatted.  The Mayor made a big deal that there isn’t anything on his iPad that isn’t city business or business related to his many appointments like OCTA.  He did seem to believe burning a DVD was some difficult and expensive task; ask my 12 year old to show you how Mr. Mayor.

We still didn’t get a list of applications on each city owned iPad; it wasn’t provided.  And the time between our request and the Mayor’s performance was ample to scrub the tablet for personal photos of the Mayor’s pooch or that free version fo “Angry Birds.”  What I didn’t hear the mayor say is how all that data is secured and protected in case his iPad is lost or stolen.  That sort of security software isn’t cheap and without it, the City may be violating laws regarding privacy and governance, risk and compliance standards for public records. 

What was interesting was an unfounded accusation that Gavello “only hears her name” and was the source to the media for the story.  Actually, veteran council watchers tell us the council only began really using the iPad after our post and many of them still buried their noses in the paper-based council packets.  Readers pay attention to what goes on at these meetings and they tell us.