Council Approves City Manager Agreement For Joe Felz

Felz_Joe_2011_smlCity council accepted the recommendation from the Human Resources Department to approve the employment contract for city manager, Joe Felz. Payment of his $212,000 annual salary is retroactive from the date of July 9th, 2011.  A couple speakers expressed concern that no survey was taken to assess other potential candidates for the position. Council Member Don Bankhead believed that hiring a consultant to research other candidates would be a waste of time and tax payer funds saying, “It would seem rather foolish that we do something like [surveying], because in the end we would wind up with Joe anyway… Quite frankly, I don’t think that there is anyone that would be more qualified to act as city manager for the city of Fullerton”. Bankhead’s recommendation comes from the city manager’s long standing knowledge of the city and its operations.

However Bankhead’s belief was not unanimous on the council. Bruce Whitaker took the dissenting opinion during the council’s 4-1 vote expressing skepticism about rushing into the agreement. Whitaker stated that the, “City manager is a very powerful role in the city and has direct supervision responsibility for the entirety of the city government. In fact the only person that we on the council directly have supervisory authority over is the city manager, and then only at certain junctures. So it is really through the city manager that the operating aspects of city government occur”.

Whitaker claims that researching other candidates would have validated whoever was selected from the process, even if Felz ended up being selected. Additionally, it is because of the questionable transparency and accountability regarding the Kelly Thomas case that such a selection process could be used to safeguard against future liabilities. Whitaker believes that Joe Felz should have operated under an ‘at will’ employment citing City Council Member Pat McKinley’s previous 16 year ‘at will’ employment as Chief of Fullerton Police Department.

McKinley replied to Whitaker’s comments stating that most city managers work on contract. He later described a baseball analogy comparing Joe Felz as “the Albert Pujols of city managers”, and claimed that other head hunters have made competing offers. Although these offers have not been declared publically, the majority of the council believes that choosing to keep Felz was the best option.

Perks to the employment agreement include:

  • One year of severance pay should Felz be fired without reason.
  • A $625 monthly car allowance.
  • Salary is locked and can not be lowered.
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