News

Five candidates named for Atherton post

Special council meeting set for Monday, Nov. 15

Atherton's City Council plans to interview on Monday five candidates -- among them the town's current "bridge" interim manager -- for the interim city manager position. The council meeting starts at 9 a.m. Monday, Nov. 15.

The special meeting will begin in open session, but the interviews will be conducted in closed session after a public comment period.

The five candidates live in California cities large and small. In addition to Nadine Levin of San Mateo, who was appointed last month to oversee Town Hall operations until a longer-term interim manager is found, the candidates are John Danielson of Elk Grove, Martha Debry of San Jose, Eli Naffah of Crescent City, and Gene Rogers of Pebble Beach.

Among the duties the longer-term interim manager will be assigned is overseeing the process of recruiting a permanent city manager.

Council members decided to appoint an interim town manager to give them time to engage in a more intensive process to find a permanent manager soon after then-City Manager Jerry Gruber announced his resignation, effective Oct. 22. But before the Oct. 29 application deadline for the interim position closed, Assistant City Manager Eileen Wilkerson unexpectedly announced her retirement, giving only one week's notice, leaving the town without leadership.

The council scrambled to find someone to manage town operations until a longer-term interim manager could be found. Ms. Levin, who retired earlier this year as Mountain View's assistant city manager, was hired and on the job by Oct. 22.

Ms. Levine is a consultant for Management Partners.

The following are thumbnail sketches of the other four candidates, provided by the town.

Mr. Danielson is a former city manager of Elk Grove and Wildomar. He operates Danielson Associates in Sacramento.

Ms. Debry is public works director of Hillsborough, and previously served as that town's assistant city manager.

Mr. Naffah is a former city manager of Crescent City and Rio Dell. He now operates Naffah Consulting.

Mr. Rogers was city manager of Moreno Valley, and served for five years as Sunnyvale's employment development director. He now works with Local Government Management Consultants.

Click here to view the town's news release on the candidates.

The special meeting will be held in the council chambers at 94 Ashfield Road in the Town Center.

Comments

Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 10, 2010 at 7:06 pm

Congratulations to the Town Council for identifying its top five candidates well before Saturday's Special Meeting. Hopefully concerned citizens will research the backgrounds of these candidates and show up on Saturday to speak in the public comment period before the council goes into closed session.

It is exciting to see the Town Council operate so transparently.



Like this comment
Posted by Louise
a resident of Atherton: other
on Nov 10, 2010 at 8:43 pm

Question number one is about process---who shrank the list from 52 applicants to 5? Was it a council process or did Furth sort through them and present these five of her own choosing? What was meant by the Almanac by stating that Furth would be vetting the candidate (52 0r 5)? Why would anyone take Furth's advice on any of this in any case, and why is she still even here or involving herself in this when she will clearly be fired next month for all the other bad advice she has given???
Question number two---Why hasn't Widmere been brought into this selection process? He got the biggest mandate from the election, is ready willing and able, and Charles has stated that he would be happy to step down early to facilitate transition???
Question three--Why is every one of the five candidates a career public sector, pension factory, union type? Is there no interest in even considering someone with management skills from the private or business sector? I thought all three winning council candidates said they wanted Atherton to run on more of a business model--so consider someone from business why don't yah! Again I ask: Was the finalist list made by Furth or the old council majority--I don't know who to remove from my Xmas list.


Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 10, 2010 at 8:56 pm

Louise asks:"Question number one is about process---who shrank the list from 52 applicants to 5?"
I was present in the public comment session before last Saturday's meeting and Furth did not participate in that meeting. The reported action statement after the closed session stated:'Reviewed all applications and came to consensus to speak with the City Attorney and ask her to set up interviews and conduct background checks with identified candidates.' It appears to me that the Council itself selected these five candidates without input from Furth.

Louise asks:"Question number two---Why hasn't Widmere been brought into this selection process?"

The Brown Act requires that Closed Sessions may involve only the members of the legislative body and only agency counsel, management
and support staff, and consultants necessary for consideration of the matter that is the subject of closed session. Widmer's election has not yet been certified by the County Registrar of Voters and hence he is not yet a member of the Town Council and therefore could not have participated in this closed session.

I will pass on Louise's third question and encourage her to ask it in the public comment session of this Saturday's Special Session.


Like this comment
Posted by Louise
a resident of Atherton: other
on Nov 11, 2010 at 12:05 am

The town's press release states that Nadine Levin is employed with the firm "Management Consultants" to give advice to Government agencies. She is also on contract with the Sequoia Healthcare District since April.
Why has The Council hired her to do a third job on top of the other two she already has?
Has anybody been reading the newspapers about the condition of Mt. View...


Like this comment
Posted by Louise
a resident of Atherton: other
on Nov 11, 2010 at 12:14 am

Woops! correction- Nadine is currently already employed by both "Management Partners" and SHCD, as well as the Town of Atherton.


Like this comment
Posted by pundit
a resident of Atherton: other
on Nov 11, 2010 at 8:03 am

Bring back Jim Robinson


Like this comment
Posted by Bystander
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Nov 11, 2010 at 6:50 pm

Despite the usual "can't we all just get along" comments from status quo advocate Mr. Carpenter, I agree wholeheartedly with "Louise" who recognizes that there are still some serious concerns to be addressed. First is to dump our obviously biased City Attorney NOW. I can't believe that she is still onboard! Next is to reveal meaningful background checks on all the short-list candidates unlike previous hiring sessions that led to appontees who were under a serious shadow at their former employment. If we taxpayers are going to foot the enormous bills, we really do need more accurate evaluations than the glib appointments we've had in former times. It would be so refreshing to have our city led by a truly competant team, vetted in a businesslike manner, which has never occurred in my 33 years of residency here in Atherton. Up and at'em at long last!


Like this comment
Posted by Louise
a resident of Atherton: other
on Nov 11, 2010 at 7:47 pm

Thanks Bystander
If they haven't figured out that there is a problem with Nadine by now, then they never will.
Please everyone-- contribute any important clues on the other four candidates here on this forum.
The council will likely just believe whatever is presented on the resumes and make some fear based decision to compensate for their last choice of Gruber who had no experience in city management. For this interim position, I don't care if the council's selection comes from the public or private sector--I just want someone honest with NO ties to the county machine or the special interest club in Atherton--just someone who will keep a lid on things until the council is seated--someone who will do as little as possible actually, except to stand up to city attorney Winn Furth.
We should all be reading between the lines of the local press from the various city locations that the resume employment dates indicate for these applicants, or calling any contacts anybody might have that live in these cities to ask questions.


Like this comment
Posted by private eye
a resident of Atherton: Lloyden Park
on Nov 12, 2010 at 8:08 am

In spite of Peter Carpenter's lavish praise, the Atherton City Manager selection process is no more transparent or effective than it ever was.

Nadine Levin, is a candidate. This is a clear conflict of interest. She is a consultant who has an interest in prolonging her stay, just as Wende Protzman was three years ago and just as Ralph Freedman did nearly 10 years ago.

As we all know, the results of Protzman's and Freedman's self promotion and ruthless power grabs were a disaster.

What is worse, the City has selected as a finalist a candidate who came under withering criticism for lavish pay in the tradition of Bell California.

See the link below to see the scandal that John Danielsen was embroiled in at the City of Elk Grove:

Web Link

If we can't count on our Mayor and her Scottish ally to do even the most basic due dilligence, who can we count on?



Like this comment
Posted by arne croce
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Nov 12, 2010 at 8:17 am

Bring back Jim Robinson


Like this comment
Posted by alan foster
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 12, 2010 at 8:23 am

Martha Derby was on the board of the South Bayside Management Authority. In this capacity she let the Town of Atherton's cost of collecting refuse and yard waste spiral out of control.

We have three of five finalists who suffer from a checkered past. So what else is new. This is Atherton, the most expensive and dysfunctional zip code in America.

Thanks Kathy. Thanks Jim.


Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 12, 2010 at 10:33 am

Keep putting FACTS on the table and go to the Saturday Council meeting.
Transparency without citizen participation is meaningless.


Like this comment
Posted by allan aldwell
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Nov 12, 2010 at 4:34 pm

Unfortunately at least four of the five candidates shortlisted for interim City Manager have at best, questionable backgrounds.

Eli Naffah [portion removed - no evidence provided for this statement] .. after a scathing report on the City's management of its first time home buyer's program. Who issued this scathing report? The Humboldt County Grand Jury.

Web Link

Atherton has had enough scathing grand jury reports.

Louise has a good question. Are these the five best candidates out of the 52 that provided their resumes? Who did the vetting and why couldn't they find out about Naffah's background?


Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 12, 2010 at 7:24 pm

The Special Meeting is Monday at 9 AM, not Saturday.


Like this comment
Posted by enough already
a resident of Atherton: Lloyden Park
on Nov 12, 2010 at 7:56 pm

We need to tell Kathy McKeithen and Jim Dobbie to come up with a better list of finalists.

Two of the five candidats are ex City Managers who resigned after firestorms over grand jury reports and excessive pay packages. Another two candidates lack the necessary qualifications.

The problem with Kathy and Jim is that they are looking for managers in all of the wrong places.


Like this comment
Posted by Louise
a resident of Atherton: other
on Nov 12, 2010 at 10:11 pm

Why didn't the council choose some one like Phil Lively (as a for instance) for one or both of these little bridge or interim stints. They just needed someone to act as a placeholder and Phil probably would have done it for free. Any honest respected and known entity from with in the community could have had us saving our energy and money for the selection that actually matters which is the actual city manager, who will not be chosen until well after the new council is seated. We don't need to pay salaries to dubious professionals to give us yet another amateur performance when we have plenty of amateurs who might be available for free.
Speaking of free--until Atherton sets city attorney Winn Furth free from all ties to this town there will be no city manager who could stand the chance to manage even their own sanity--not even Phil.


Like this comment
Posted by Louise
a resident of Atherton: other
on Nov 14, 2010 at 10:20 pm

I do not understand the comments from Alan Foster, "Private eye", and "Enough Already" all of whom seem to attribute blame on McKiethen and Dobbie for the less than stellar list of candidates for interim city manager when perfectly good citizen volunteers are available. After January 1st you all may well blame Cathy and Jim for any bad decisions made by the council because they will finally have the majority vote and no real obstacle left for the implementation of sanity. However, Please remember, until January there are three obstacles named Carlson Lewis and Marsala running this show full bore into the ground, with their majority vote. These three council members are desperate to choose and control the next manager because they will have lost control of the council vote. Expect them to push hard for the worst possible choice.


Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 15, 2010 at 12:32 am

How sad that anyone thinks our elected officials would intentionally make a bad choice for an interim Town Manager.

If citizens really feel that none of the five finalists are good enough then speak out and ask the council to redo the application and selection process.

Sent from Dubai


Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 15, 2010 at 7:32 am

Yes Peter, it is sad. But based upon the past performance of the "gang of three" how is one to conclude otherwise?


Like this comment
Posted by management partner
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 16, 2010 at 8:09 pm

While Peter is in Dubai maybe he can collect a few resumes.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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