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Hermosa Seeking Interim Manager to Replace Meyer

August 13, 1987|KAREN ROEBUCK | Times Staff Writer

The Hermosa Beach City Council voted this week to hire an interim city manager through a nonprofit organization as a temporary replacement for Gregory T. Meyer, who resigned last week to take a job with the Los Angeles City Redevelopment Agency.

The council asked Public Service Skills Inc. of Sacramento, an organization with a data bank of retired public employees available for temporary assignments, to send the city three to five candidates.

The city's personnel department, aided by Los Angeles County, will then recruit a permanent city manager--a process that should take three to four months.

Most council members have generally expressed satisfaction with Meyer during his six years on the job and said they were sorry to see him leave. Most of them have expressed support for him since the Los Angeles district attorney's office made public a critical report last week.

The report said Meyer counseled employees to obtain insurance benefits to which they were not entitled, but said he would not be prosecuted because he had not gained by the actions and that conviction was unlikely.

Meyer said his resignation is not connected to the insurance affair. He would not comment on the report, but in the past he has denied any wrongdoing.

Meyer said he is leaving his $63,000-a-year job with the city largely to make more money. He will earn $77,900 as a deputy administrator of the redevelopment agency. He will oversee four divisions: management information systems, the controller's office, central maintenance and human resources.

Councilman Jim Rosenberger said the attraction is more than money because of "the slings and arrows he has faced with the community--not just recently, but over the years. I guess everyone and anyone gets tired of that after awhile."

Meyer has frequently been involved in highly publicized controversies. Earlier this year several council members criticized him for telling them that the city was in dire financial trouble when its revenues were actually improving.

Easygoing Boss

But other city officials and employees spoke highly of Meyer, saying he was easy to work for and allowed subordinates to disagree with him on issues before the City Council.

Meyer told The Times last week that he had informed his new employer about the district attorney's investigation when he was interviewed for the position nearly two months ago. But two redevelopment agency officials--Robert Alaniz, director of public affairs, and Murray Kane, general counsel--said the agency did not know about the investigation before hiring Meyer.

Meyer could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Kane said Meyer called the agency last Thursday, after it had agreed to hire him, to tell officials about the recently closed investigation after reporters began questioning the city manager about the critical report released by prosecutors the day before.

Kane said he is looking into the insurance affair. "We're concerned," he said. "Obviously, we have a responsibility to learn all the facts."

Based on the information the agency has obtained so far, Kane said there would be no reason to rescind Meyer's hiring. He said the agency, like Hermosa Beach City Council members, are concerned that Meyer's privacy rights may have been violated and his reputation may have been unfairly injured by release of the report.

Alaniz said the agency was not upset that Meyer did not disclose the fact he was under investigation when he applied for the job. When the agency recently learned of the investigation, officials were encouraged by what he called a "vote of confidence" the City Council gave Meyer after the case was closed.

Mayor John Cioffi said in an interview this week that the City Council had unanimously voted in a closed session one month ago not to discipline any city employees in regard to the district attorney's 14-month insurance investigation. That vote was never made public, however, according to the city clerk's office.

The vote was taken before the critical report was made public and there is some discrepancy among council members about their knowledge of the report at that time.

City Atty. James Lough had a copy of the report then but said he refused to show it to council members because he did not believe it should be a public record.

Council members would not say whether they discussed the report or any disciplinary action at Tuesday's closed session.

Council member June Williams, who is the only council member who has said that is was proper to make the report public, said before the council meeting Tuesday that it would be a moot point to discipline Meyer since he has resigned. Councilman Tony DeBellis could not be reached for comment since the report was made public last week.

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