Atherton: Interim manager choice announced

Tentative appointment contigent on agreement over contract terms

John Danielson, the former city manager of Elk Grove and Wildomar, both in California, will be Atherton's interim city manager if terms of a contract can be agreed upon.

The Atherton City Council announced on Dec. 15 that Mr. Danielson, who operates the Danielson Associates consulting firm in Sacramento, was its choice to lead the town until a recruitment process to find a permanent manager is completed. One of the interim manager's roles will be to help the council conduct that search.

Mayor Jim Dobbie said Mr. Danielson got "very, very good references" from everyone the town contacted. The consensus was that "he is a first-class manager," the mayor said.

A key to his appointment, Mr. Dobbie said, is that Mr. Danielson didn't want the permanent manager's position. "That's what we insisted on," he said, explaining that the council didn't want others interested in the permanent position to be reluctant to apply because a fellow applicant had his foot in the door.

The choice of Mr. Danielson was unanimous among the four council members who in November interviewed the five candidates on the finalist list. Bill Widmer, who was sworn in as a council member on Dec. 15 and therefore had not been part of the council review of candidates, abstained from voting.

Mayor Jim Dobbie and Councilwoman Kathy McKeithen were appointed as a subcommittee to negotiate a contract with Mr. Danielson. Mayor Dobbie said the council wants the search for a permanent manager to be thorough, but that he hopes it can be concluded within six months.

Mr. Danielson had his share of detractors as Elk Grove city manager, and his salary and post-employment compensation was a source of criticism. One newspaper reported that in the five years he was in Elk Grove, he amassed some $4.8 million in compensation, leave buybacks, lifetime health insurance and pension benefits.

Mr. Dobbie said the town "checked all of it out thoroughly, and it wasn't true."

Noting that Mr. Danielson has experience in managing police departments and in personnel management, Mayor Dobbie said, "He was by far, in my mind, the best of the applicants."

The other finalists were current "bridge" interim manager Nadine Levin of San Mateo, Martha Debry of San Jose, Eli Naffah of Crescent City, and Gene Rogers of Pebble Beach.

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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Dec 17, 2010 at 1:30 pm

Atherton City Council really knows how to pick people, don't they. They hire a guy who was accused of paying himself $4.8 million over seven years. Mind you, just an accusation. Jim Dobbie checked it out and found out it wasn't true. If I was an Atherton resident, I wouldn't feel reassured about anything Dobbie checked out.

Like this comment
Posted by Ed
a resident of Atherton: other
on Dec 17, 2010 at 2:42 pm

If you are referring to the article in todays Daily Post then it is Jerry Carlson's multiple quotes than claim John Danielson had been unfairly portrayed in the Grand Jury reports and the press--not Jim Dobbie.

Like this comment
Posted by Shovel ready
a resident of Atherton: other
on Dec 17, 2010 at 5:19 pm

I tend to be skeptical when accusations such as "not true" and "not proven"... are expected to be taken one way or the other. One implies innonence and the other (unproven) guilt. Looks like we ned to do some more digging on this interim manager selection, darn it.

Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 17, 2010 at 5:23 pm

There will be a Special Meeting of the Town Council on 22 December at 8 AM and public comments will be taken BEFORE the Council finalizes this appointment.

Like this comment
Posted by damaged goods
a resident of Atherton: other
on Dec 17, 2010 at 9:47 pm

The Town didn't want to hire as an interim, someone who might be interested in working permanently because it didn't want to scare away other qualified candidates?

What kind of twisted logic is that? We've got a repeat of the Ralph Freedman days.

Like this comment
Posted by anne
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Dec 20, 2010 at 10:29 am

Given the recent trouble in Atherton, why would the council select someone the grand jury was looking at? If I were on the council, I would visit Elk Grove to obtain more information. "Where there is smoke, there is fire". The council members are under a microscope especially now. I think they should extend the window for applicants.

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

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