PASADENA — City officials have said they probably will go through with a controversial plan to hire two deputy city managers despite a recent political uproar that has left the future of Pasadena's governmental structure uncertain.
Mayor William Bogaard said last week he believes that the Board of City Directors will go forward with the plan, part of a far-reaching reorganization of city government that was approved earlier this year, "because it's a sound decision."
The creation of two deputy city manager positions, with yearly salaries of about $70,000 each, actually will save the city money by eliminating several other management positions, city officials said.
The planned reorganization of upper- and mid-level management would eliminate seven positions and consolidate services under the deputy city manager posts. The plan is expected to save the city $179,531 in salaries and benefits, City Manager Donald McIntyre said.
During public hearings last month on a controversial proposed assessment district, hundreds of angry residents denounced the hirings amid demands that McIntyre be fired and the Board of City Directors be recalled. The hostile reaction prompted city directors to rescind their vote approving the assessment district.
Director Jess Hughston subsequently called for extensive changes in city government, including direct mayoral elections and eliminating the city manager's position. At present, the mayor's post is rotated among the seven city directors. Board members agreed to study Hughston's proposal but have yet to appoint a subcommittee to do so.
The deputy city manager concept, scheduled to be operational by July 1, was put on hold while city directors waited for the furor over the assessment district to die down.
McIntyre said last week that because of the controversy, he wants to discuss filling the posts with board members individually before going ahead.
"I don't want to proceed . . . if it's going to be something that board members don't want to live with politically," McIntyre said. "Even though it's my decision to make, I don't want to go ahead with something that may work out to be politically foolish in the long run."
A final decision on the matter will be made within the next two weeks, McIntyre said.
Mayor Bogaard, however, said the board appears committed to filling the posts despite public criticism. "My sense is that the board continues to believe that it's a sound decision," he said.
Director Loretta Thompson-Glickman agreed. "I think we'll move ahead," she said.
Approved in May by the Board of City Directors, the new posts call for one deputy city manager to be in charge of water and power and public works; the other would head police, fire, paramedics, libraries and community and recreation services.
A private firm was hired by the city to conduct a nationwide search for people to fill the positions, and interviews were completed last month. The field of candidates has been narrowed to three, McIntyre said. He declined to name them.
However, City Hall sources said the top internal candidate for the deputy city manager who would head Community and Safety Services is Bill Lewis, director of the Employee and Community Services Agency and a 23-year veteran of City Hall.
Lewis has said he wants the job and that he was contacted by the private firm conducting the search. He declined to say, however, if he was one of the final candidates. Under the reorganization, Lewis' current position would be eliminated.