I’m not a fan of reality TV, but there’s a show called “Dirty Jobs” (now cancelled by The Discovery Channel) that documented truly awful jobs people do — like “Road Kill Cleaner” or “Zoo Cage Cleaner.” Jobs that usually involve excrement, dirt, sweat, terrible heat or freezing cold; a job that offers no respect and you need to shower after work instead of before it.
In Orange County, that job belongs to whoever is Anaheim’s City Manager.
Paul Emery is the current unappreciated occupant of the chair and with a new council majority in place, there’s a chance he’ll be axed due to demands of the pro-Tait crowd. The Voice of OC reports that Emery may be on his way out.
From the story (titles added referenced earlier in the story): “The shift could also mean a shakeup of the city’s top leadership. (Mayor Tom) Tait has often clashed with city officials, accusing them of manipulating budget numbers to inflate the resort district’s contributions to the budget and downplay the impacts of hotel subsidies.
At recent council meetings, some residents have called for the new council to fire City Manager Paul Emery as one of their first acts.
Neither Tait nor (Council member-elect Jose) Moreno would say whether they will push to replace top city staff – nor did they rule it out.
“I’d want to see a city manager who shares my vision for the city [of] creating a culture of kindness…and focusing on the community,” said Tait.
Even while in the Council minority, finding a city manager who shares Tait’s vision of “kindness” is a laughable thing. Tait’s not kind at all to any city manager under his tenure as Anaheim’s mayor. Since Tait was elected in 2010, Anaheim has had four city managers and perhaps a fifth is in place. There are rumors that a past City Manager filed personnel complaints against the Mayor for verbal abuse — documents shielded from public view due to the personnel nature of the complaint.
But if Tait wants a city manager to have a vision of a “culture of kindness” perhaps he ought to practice what he preaches.
Here’s the breakdown:
Since Mayor Tait was first elected in 2010, Anaheim City Managers include:
Tom Wood, June 2009 – November 2011
Bob Wingenroth, Interim: November 2011 – June 2012; Permanent: June 2012 – June 2013
Marcie Edwards, Interim: May 2013 – July 2013; Permanent: July 2013 – February 2014
Paul Emery, Interim: February 2014 to July 2015; Permanent: July 2015 to current
Having a city manager in place for a long haul provides a measure of stability for Anaheim City Hall staff. Churn at the top creates more churn at the bottom and if residents aren’t happy with the performance of the rank and file at City Hall, maybe it’s because these workers have to perform under conditions where there’s a new top executive every 12 to 18 months. In the private sector, companies with constant churn at the top are ….failures.
If the new Council majority fire Emery before July 2017, he gets a year’s salary for his severance which includes a merit increase granted during a November performance review. Emery makes $298,700 a year (about a third of what CATER’s lawsuit over public records documents cost the city in legal fees). If the council fires Emery after July 2017, Emery gets six months severance and membership in the club of folks Tait is unable to work with in a professional manner.
Tait’s gripe here is his perception of a lack of communication from Emery about the Hotel subsidy deal which Disney leaked to the OC Register and Emery informed all the council members about on June 8; Tait had heard the news by then and the city’s PIO defended the process of council member communication on applications filed because they often change before an actual application is submitted. PIO Mike Lyster is on record saying Disney shouldn’t be treated differently than anyone else. And they shouldn’t.
While the new council may end the Hotel Subsidy Program — one where private developers build a 4-star hotel at their risk creating thousands of good jobs at good wages before the first guest books a room and checks out before a dime of subsidy is paid –but eliminating the subsidies granted in June will likely result in lawsuits filed by developers against the city for tens of millions if not hundreds of millions of dollars.
The new Council majority is talking about raising wages and creating new jobs; the state’s minimum wage will take care of the first and there’s no tangible plan on the second matter. And kindess in Anaheim really doesn’t exist when the Mayor is churning through city managers like leased cars.
But back to the Dirty Jobs OC edition — if Emery is fired, he shouldn’t have any trouble landing a new gig. The previous city managers all landed on their feet just fine.