The new city manager of La Canada Flintridge is familiar with the issues of the rustic rural community and the furniture in the office he takes over today.
George Caswell has been there before.
He was city manager from 1980 to 1983, preceding Donald H. Otterman, who stepped down Wednesday to take a similar job in Oregon.
City officials had announced that they would seek an interim manager after Otterman, 42, announced May 16 that he was leaving. But now no one is certain whether Caswell should be considered temporary or permanent.
"The last time, I went for a three-month contract and spent three years," said Caswell, 69. "This time, we're discussing a one-year contract. But, based on past experience, who knows how long I'll stay?"
Caswell will be working only part time, but Councilwoman Joan Feehan said she has "a real good feeling that he is going to stay. When you are a small contract city, there is not that much going on" to require a full-time manager.
Caswell declined to discuss contract negotiations. However, he said the terms are similar to previous contracts that he has held with the city. The terms will not be made final by the City Council until July.
Newspaper accounts reported that Caswell was given a one-year, $36,000 contract when he was hired as the permanent, part-time manager in 1981. The contract included an expense account and 36 paid vacation and leave days but no other benefits.
Caswell said he still intends to work only three days a week, unlike Otterman, who earned $61,200 a year in the full-time post that he held for five years.
Wants Part-Time Job
"I really don't want to be a full-time city manager," said Caswell, who retired in 1980 after 18 years as manager of the city of La Verne, where he and his wife still live. "I don't want to go to work for eight hours a day, five days a week," although he said he is not adverse to the 30-mile, 40-minute commute.
Caswell called his return to La Canada Flintridge "a natural kind of thing. I think I sense the goals of the community rather than just going in absolutely cold." He said he plans to meet individually with council members to discuss their priorities.
Caswell has been a pinch-hitter in municipal government since he retired. He did two stints with the city of Fontana, as an interim city manager for about seven months in 1987, then as an interim director of public works for nine months last year. He just completed his duties as manager of Diamond Bar before its successful cityhood formation drive.
As far as his commitment to La Canada Flintridge, Caswell said he agreed to take over stewardship of the city "just on a handshake." The details are to be worked out later.