CUDAHY — The City Council has replaced its top administrator and reappointed a former city manager who resigned under pressure less than a year ago.
But John Porter, the newly ousted city manager, will apparently remain on the payroll because he has four years remaining on a contract that guarantees him $55,000 a year, plus $6,000 a year as a car allowance.
"We did not fire him but demoted him. He has a five-year contract," said Councilman Bill Colon. "If we had to pay him we might as well keep him."
Meanwhile, Gerald Caton takes up the job that he left in September, 1985. Caton received a $78,000 settlement on his city contract when he left the post. But for the past four months, Caton has served as city clerk and director of Cudahy's redevelopment agency at a salary of $60,000 a year.
Porter, 43, said that being replaced as city manager did not come as a surprise to him.
"I've known for some time that the council wanted Jerry back as city manager. They were always up front with me. Things were cordial," Porter said.
Porter said he hoped to continue working with the city in some capacity but it has not been determined what he will do.
A former controller for J. C. Penney, Porter was originally hired as the city's finance director in 1985. Porter, who had no previous government experience when he was hired, was given a five-year contract at $55,000 a year, plus a $6,000 annual car allowance and health benefits.
Colon, Mayor Joseph Graffio, and Councilmen John Robertson and Tom Thurman voted Monday to rehire Caton. Councilman Gabe Zippi was absent.
"This comes as no surprise to anyone. We notified John Porter 30 days ago that we intended to rehire Jerry," Robertson said.
"Porter wasn't laid off but we felt that he didn't have the background for a city manager.
"The other council gave him a sweetheart deal, a no-cut, five-year contract and we had to get out from under it," Robertson said.
Graffio said he believed that Caton was best qualified for the job. Thurman and Zippi could not be reached for comment.
Caton, 35, resigned last year after the council voted 3-1, with Graffio opposed, to buy out the remaining 10 months of his contract for $78,000 in salary and benefits. Caton was paid $60,000 a year to run the city, which has a population of nearly 20,000.
Caton said at the time that he had resigned because he differed on several policy questions with Mayor Faye Dunlap and Councilmen Zippi and Lynwood Evans. Dunlap and Evans were defeated in the April, 1986, elections and replaced by Colon and Thurman.
With Monday's vote, Caton assumes both the roles of city manager and city clerk. His position as director of the Redevelopment Agency was taken over by Richard Tillberg, the assistant executive director of the agency.
Colon said Caton was not given a long-term contract but hired on a yearly basis.