Disclaimer: The comments in this blog are my personal opinion and may or may not reflect an adopted position of the city of Glendale and its city council.

Prior to the September 10th city council workshop meeting, reporters representing a local TV station descended upon us and incessantly questioned the mayor and councilmembers regarding the hiring of former Glendale Police Chief Rick St. John as the city’s first Public Safety Director. Not surprisingly Councilmembers Aldama and Turner offered sound bites intimating that the council had authority over this City of Glendale employee hire.

It’s time to set the record straight.

It states explicitly in the city’s charter with regard to the city council, “Sec. 19. – Interference in administrative service. “Except as otherwise provided in this charter, neither the council nor any of its members shall interfere with the execution by the city manager of his powers and duties, or order, directly or indirectly, the appointment by the city manager of any person to an office or employment or his removal therefrom.”

The charter then goes on to specifically authorize as a power of the city manager,”Sec. 3. – City manager; powers and duties. “The city manager shall be chief executive officer and head of the administrative branch of the city government. He shall be responsible for the proper administration of all affairs of the city and to that end, subject to the provisions of this charter, he shall have the power and shall be required to:

        “(3) Appoint, and when deemed necessary for the good of the service, lay-off, suspend, 

               transfer, demote or remove all department heads, officers and employees of the city,

               subject to such merit system regulations as the council may adopt;”

The city council, by charter, has no power to hire, fire, suspend or in any way affect the position of any city employee. The only direct hires of the city council are the city manager, the city attorney, the city clerk and the city’s chief judge. That’s it. The council has no authority regarding any other employee position. The city manager could have hired the Easter Bunny for that position and council has no say…no authority with regard to his choice.

The only way the city council has any power over employees is during the budget cycle. Council can approve or deny new employee positions or can increase or decrease the number of full time employees (FTEs) within any city department’s budget appropriation. In June of 2019, council approved the creation of several new city positions by authorizing the funding of those positions. Among them was a Public Safety Director and a Council Assistant. I mention these two positions specifically to demonstrate what occurred after those positions were approved by city council at its budget process.

Here is a case in point. Council approved the addition of one FTE who would be destined to become my new Council Assistant. In July the position of Council Assistant was posted. It is my understanding that there were nearly a 100 applicants. The Human Resources Department went through every application and determined which of the applicants met the qualifications for the job. I asked and was told the process reduced the list to about 60 applicants. Those applicants were then reviewed by an appropriate staff member based upon specific criteria for the council assistant job requirements. Those finalists were interviewed by a panel of city employees resulting in a final list of three applicants. Since I was the councilmember who would be using this new hire, I was invited to meet the three finalists. Please note it was not within my authority to demand or even to ask to interview the finalists. I was asked for my opinion and offered it knowing full well that I had no authority in choosing the person who would be my council assistant. Fortunately for me, the person I felt would do the best job was the choice of senior management. That position was filled in early August.

In the case of the Public Safety Director, city council authorized the position’s funding with its approval of the Fiscal Year 2019-20 budget. On August 27, 2019 city council approved an agreement with Interim Public Management LLC (IPM) to secure candidates for the position. As was stated by Jim Brown, Human Resources Director, the applicants for the position were narrowed down to three finalists. I do not know who or when or how many staff was involved in the interview process but Mr. Brown stated that the selection was made after interviews were conducted. The decision was strictly within the authority of the city manager. It was not city council’s decision to make and the city charter does not grant the council any authority over the process or the selection.

Occasionally, and not in every instance, council has been invited to attend a reception for the finalists for a position such as Assistant City Manager. It is a reception open to many employees not just councilmembers. Sometimes a few of the city councilmembers will attend. Rarely, if ever, are our opinions solicited and even if they had been, they have no bearing on the final selection.

Why the intense media scrutiny? Is it to gin up their ratings? Does it reflect anti-police sentiment expressed by some of the general public? Perhaps because they haven’t done their homework as to how the selection process works? Or does it have to do with the intense media attention given to “use of force” policy by the Glendale Police Department?

I would just remind everyone that government employees are terminated all the time and knowing government as we all do, it’s got to be something pretty serious to get fired or to resign in lieu of termination. Yet I don’t see the media hounding any local governmental leaders if an employee other than a police officer or fire fighter is terminated. This statement in no way diminishes employee bad conduct for public safety employees are held to a higher standard since their mission is to protect the public. All leadership within Glendale does not condone or support bad acts committed by any employee within the City of Glendale. It doesn’t matter if it’s within the finance department, the water department or the police department.

Within any organization, public or private, there are employees who are terminated or should be. Why, I bet there are one or two at your place of work that you’ve wondered why they haven’t already been fired. That does not mean that aberrant, out-of-the norm behavior is condoned by the organization’s leadership. It does signify that there is a long process, often expensive and often painful for both sides, designed to protect the rights of both sides and sometimes the outcome satisfies no one.

Glendale is deserving of criticism when criticism is due but in this case I suspect the media didn’t do all of their homework on this one or perhaps they are in a vendetta mood. Who knows? It may be both.

© Joyce Clark, 2019         


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