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Kudos and Criticism for the City Manager

March 14, 1991

A recent article in your newspaper related how the Monterey Park city manager was questioned about the purchase of a computer for $10,400 without City Council approval.

The manager said he bought components under $5,000 each and did not need council approval. But isn't a computer bought with the intention of buying a complete system, not just a wire or a button purchased piece by piece? Apparently the council thinks it's piece by piece because they gave the manager a loud tsk, tsk and went merrily on their way.

However, there is a lot more to this.

Last June, the City Council reduced the salary of the administrative assistant from $3,400 a month to $2,850, a yearly savings of $6,600 for the taxpayer.

Sure enough, the position was filled at the lower salary, but the city manager sweetened the pot by putting two weeks of accumulated sick leave and two weeks of vacation on the books for the new employee. In addition, a Macintosh computer and software (the computer in question) was purchased for $10,400 for the employee. So in reality, the position cost $13,250 over the amount allocated in the budget and twice as much as the $6,600 taxpayer savings.

Fortunately, the employee is a skillful, creative and diligent worker, but that does not excuse the city manager from: 1) making a deal with a non-exempt employee, i.e., a union member, 2) violating the memo of understanding with the union representing middle-management employees, and 3) breaking a city code which requires City Council approval on purchases over $5,000.

One can only wonder why all the council members are not disturbed by the city manager's dealings, particularly when they were so adamant in making salary cuts and saving money just last June.

IRV GILMAN

Monterey Park

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