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Selecting a new Atherton Town Manager

Original post made by peter carpenter, Atherton: Lindenwood, on Sep 24, 2010

Dear Council and Council candidates,

With Jerry Gruber's resignation the Council is faced with its most important responsibility - the choice of a new CEO.

California law provides for a strong City/Town Manager form of local government whereby the Council selects the Town Manager and set broad policy but the Town Manager is the Town's CEO and is responsible for actually leading, running, managing and directing the entire Town staff. This concept is already embodied in Atherton's Town Ordinance Chapter 2.12 cited below.

I urge you to begin your search with a reaffirmation of Chapter 2.12, to include citizens in your search process from beginning to end, and to then allow the new Town Manager to carry out the strong Town Manager model of local government. Under no circumstances should you select a candidate who you are not prepared to grant ALL of the responsibilities and authorities specified in Chapter 2.12.


Peter Carpenter
1 Larch Drive
Atherton, Ca

Chapter 2.12


2.12.010 Office established.

2.12.020 Ex officio offices of city manager.

2.12.030 Appointment.

2.12.040 Surety bond.

2.12.050 Appointment of assistant city manager.

2.12.060 Compensation.

2.12.070 Powers and duties.

2.12.080 Cooperation of subordinate officers.

2.12.090 Tenure.
2.12.010 Office established.

Pursuant to Section 34851 of the Government Code of the state, and other applicable laws, the council establishes a city manager form of government and creates the office of city manager. (Ord. 274 § 1, 1967)
2.12.020 Ex officio offices of city manager.

By virtue of his office the city manager shall also hold the offices of city clerk, purchasing officer, finance officer, building official, zoning administrator, superintendent of streets, personnel officer, secretary of the planning commission and director of civil defense. (Ord. 274 § 2, 1967)
2.12.030 Appointment.

The city manager shall be appointed by the city council solely on the basis of his executive and administrative qualifications and ability. (Ord. 274 § 3, 1967)
2.12.040 Surety bond.

The city manager shall furnish a corporate surety bond, to be approved by the city council, in such sum as may be determined by the city council, which shall be conditioned upon the faithful performance of the duties imposed upon the city manager as prescribed in this chapter. Any premium for such bonds shall be a proper charge against the town. (Ord. 274 § 4, 1967)
2.12.050 Appointment of assistant city manager.

The city council may designate some duly qualified person as assistant city manager to perform the duties of the city manager during any period of absence or disability of such city manager, subject, however, to the person’s furnishing a corporate surety bond conditioned upon faithful performance of the duties required to be performed as set forth in this chapter. (Ord. 274 § 5, 1967)
2.12.060 Compensation.

The city manager shall receive such compensation and expense allowances as the city council shall from time to time determine and fix by resolution. (Ord. 274 § 6, 1967)
2.12.070 Powers and duties.

The city manager shall be the administrative head of the government of the town under the direction and control of the city council, except as otherwise provided in this chapter. He shall be responsible for the efficient administration of all the affairs of the town which are under his control. In addition to his general powers as administrative head, and not as a limitation thereon, it shall be his duty and he shall have the powers set forth in the following subsections:

A. To see that all laws and ordinances of the town are duly enforced and that all franchises, permits and privileges granted by the town are faithfully observed;

B. To control, order and give directions to all heads of departments, except the city attorney, and to subordinate officers and employees of the town through their department head, and consolidate or combine offices, positions, departments or units under his direction;

C. To appoint, remove and demote any and all officers and employees of the town except the mayor, councilmen, chairman and members of the planning commission and the city attorney;

D. To represent the town in its negotiations and working relationships with the state, the county and other governmental jurisdictions; provided, that any contracts negotiated for the exchange of services from any such other governmental jurisdiction shall be subject to approval by the city council;

E. To perform all of the duties and powers imposed by law on the city clerk or city auditor;

F. To attend all meetings of the city council of the town unless excused therefrom by the council;

G. To recommend to the city council for adoption such measures or ordinances as he deems necessary or expedient;

H. To keep the city council at all times fully advised as to the financial conditions and needs of the town;

I. To prepare and submit the proposed annual budget and the proposed annual salary plan to the city council for its approval, and to supervise the administration of the budget after its adoption;

J. To purchase all supplies for all of the departments or divisions of the town. No expenditures shall be submitted or recommended to the city council except on report or approval of the city manager. He shall approve all warrants drawn on the town before payment thereof;

K. To make investigations into the affairs of the town or any department or division thereof and any contract for the proper performance thereof;

L. To investigate all complaints in relation to matters concerning the administration of the town government and in regard to the service maintained by public utilities in such town;

M. To exercise general supervision over all public buildings, public parks and all other public property which are under the control and jurisdiction of the city council;

N. To devote full time to the duties of his office and the interest of the town. The city manager shall not be employed by or work for any other person, corporation or entity, whether or not compensated therefor;

O. To perform such other duties and exercise such other powers as may be delegated to him from time to time by ordinance or resolution or other action of the city council;

P. To attend any and all meetings of any commissions or boards created by the city council upon his own volition or upon direction of the city council. At any such meetings at which he attends, the city manager shall be heard by such commissions and boards as to all matters upon which he wishes to address them. (Ord. 274 § 7, 1967)
2.12.080 Cooperation of subordinate officers.

A. The city council and its members shall deal with the administrative services of the town through the city manager, except for the purpose of inquiry; and neither the city council nor any member thereof shall give orders to the subordinates of the city manager, except in the event of an emergency endangering life or property.

B. It shall be the duty of all subordinate officers, including the city attorney, to cooperate with and assist the city manager in administering the affairs of the town most efficiently, economically and harmoniously, so far as may be consistent with their duties as prescribed by the law and ordinances of the town.

C. Upon appointment of the city manager, the terms of subordinate officers over whom he has power of appointment or removal shall cease unless they are reappointed by him. All powers heretofore vested in the city council or in any other officer or employee of the town ordinance, resolution or other action of the council which are by this chapter vested in the city manager, shall be deemed to be transferred to the city manager as though all such ordinances, resolutions or other actions had been specifically amended. (Ord. 274 § 8, 1967)
2.12.090 Tenure.

The city manager shall hold office at and during the pleasure of the city council. Removal of the city manager shall be only by a vote of at least a majority of the full membership of the city council at a regular meeting of the council, after opportunity for the city manager to be heard. At least thirty days prior to such removal, the city manager shall be furnished with a written notice stating the intention of any council member to remove him and the reason therefor, provided that prior to such removal the city council may suspend him from duty, without change in his compensation pending removal. In removing the city manager, the city council shall use its uncontrolled discretion and its action shall be final and shall not depend upon any particular showing or degree of proof. (Ord. 274 § 9, 1967)

Comments (4)

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Posted by old timer
a resident of another community
on Sep 25, 2010 at 1:34 pm

They ought to give the job to that guy who audited the building department several years back. He's a stand up guy, a real straight shooter.

Like this comment
Posted by george armis
a resident of Atherton: other
on Sep 25, 2010 at 8:24 pm

This much too important a decision to place in the hands of residents. The last time the Town tried that it got Jim Robinson, who the Grand Jury found to be derelict in his duties.

Sorry Peter.

Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Sep 26, 2010 at 1:17 am

"to include citizens in your search process from beginning to end" is not placing the decision in the hands of the citizens but ensuring that there is citizen input as the council makes this critical decision.

Sorry George.

Like this comment
Posted by R.Gordon
a resident of another community
on Sep 26, 2010 at 9:31 am

Dear Mr. Carpenter...thanks for putting the information out there for all to read.
You must know by now, I find it difficult to put much confidence in leadership in all the cities of the Peninsula and would immediately turn to you for any kind of real opinion.
Since you are a resident of Atherton, are you satisfied with the City Council to have the qualifications to appoint or recommend a Town Manager?
Needless to say, I respect your opinion above anyone's here at the Almanac Town Forum.

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

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