Atascadero city manager stepping down

May 30, 2013

Wade McKinneyWade McKinney, Atascadero’s city manager, will be leaving that post soon to take a similar position with the small, opulent desert community of Indian Wells, CalCoastNews has learned.

The position has been offered to McKinney, said the  Indian Wells’ human resources director Wednesday, and a contract is being finalized. No details of the pending agreement, including salary and benefits, were revealed.

McKinney could not be reached for comment.

Indian Wells is a city of approximately 5,000, located in Riverside County in the Coachella Valley, between Palm Desert and La Quinta. It is home to numerous celebrities and some of the world’s finest and best known golf clubs.

It also is known for paying its city managers princely sums. In 2011, the city’s former top staff employee, Greg Johnson, was the highest paid city employee in California, knocking down $677,172 in salary and “other pay.” Johnson has departed as has interim city manager Rod Wood.

McKinney is one of the highest paid city officials in San Luis Obispo County at $254,693 in total compensation in 2010, including a base salary of $157,173. McKinney’s vacation, holiday and administrative leave totals more than 13 weeks a year, not including sick time, valued at $39,140.

McKinney became city manager of Atascadero in August 1997 after spending 11 years as the city manager of Shafter.



  1. easymoney says:

    “Wade McKinney, Atascadero’s city manager, will be leaving that post ”
    Not any too soon… Now maybe Atown might have a chance.

    (1) 1 Total Votes - 1 up - 0 down
  2. Nancy says:

    Golf, any one?

    (5) 5 Total Votes - 5 up - 0 down
  3. MikeB says:

    this event happened a little over a year and a half ago. I wonder if the Indian Wells city council simply wants to continue the trend

    (9) 9 Total Votes - 9 up - 0 down
    • MaryMalone says:

      I would say, yes, the Indian Wells city council wants to continue the trend. With all of the corruption scandals that occurred on McKinney’s watch in Atascadero, a city council that wanted a change from their prior city manager, Greg Johnson, would not touch McKinney with a ten-foot pole.

      For more info, see my post here at:

      (6) 6 Total Votes - 6 up - 0 down
  4. pasoman says:

    Wouldn’t it be nice if Jim App found a new job too? AMG!

    (14) 14 Total Votes - 14 up - 0 down
  5. SLOBIRD says:

    Again, The Tribune is outdated in reporting this story. So sad they call themselves the County news source… Even the left is now reading and using this site, what does that tell you… lol

    (19) 21 Total Votes - 20 up - 1 down
    • MaryMalone says:

      Partisan politics gets really old. May we hope that you will outgrow it any time in the future?

      The “left” has always been here.

      In reality, our politicians are so screwed up that there is huge cross-over between the old-school “left” and “right” reality.

      I’m a life-long liberal and Democratic Party member, yet just this morning, while reading the newspaper, I thought to myself, “My, I would really love it if Obama was impeached.” Actually, my thought was more on the line of, “I wish Congress would impeach that fascist ***tard.”

      My brother who lives in Arkansas, a life-long conservative and Republican Party member, worked to get Obama elected and voted for him.

      I’m still liberal. My brother is still conservative. It is politics that has changed.

      (0) 10 Total Votes - 5 up - 5 down
  6. SuperDave says:

    Wade is going to see why they pay so much. From the oppresive heat, to the fact that every person expects everything to go their way, because they were rich and famous in the town they lived in before retiring to the desert. I never saw so many out of control egos in one place as I found there. The pay is extraordinarily high because the turnover rates are some of the highest in California. Good luck Wade, you leave A Town, and walk right into A Hole Village, the idea of meeting nice locals is over. Welcome to retired money looking to prove every single argument with the help of an attorney…

    (17) 21 Total Votes - 19 up - 2 down
    • Cindy says:

      LOL, It’s so true, I used to love the heat and spent lots of time out there and in LaQuinta for my work, can’t take the heat anymore though and you’re right about the hoity toity attitudes. I think I still have a photo of a Rolls Royce that crashed into a palm tree and the drunk owner sued the city over the tree being too close to the road! Yup…..

      (8) 12 Total Votes - 10 up - 2 down
    • MaryMalone says:

      McKinney’s new job as city manager for the City of Indian Wells may, at first glance, seem like a sweet deal. Big salary and benefit package.

      Unfortunately for McKinney, the city officials no longer get the fabulous benefits they did before their latest scandal.

      These past benefits included:
      ***special VIP care privileges at the Eisenhower Medical Center,
      ***lifetime medical coverage,
      ***pension benefits at up to 80% of salary–plus cost of living increases–for life,
      ***free golfing privileges for life,
      ***free car washes for life,
      ***a special $14,700 fund for expenditure on discretionary expense items, payments of $50-100 per meeting which are not reported as W-2 income in city records.

      But, still, how tough can a city manager’s job when there are only about 5000 residents in the city?

      Going by what happened to the prior city manager, Greg Johnson, the city manager’s job is not quite as lucrative as it seems.

      Indian Wells city councils have a history of cutting allegedly illegal sweetheart deals with developers, hushing up at least one sexual harassment claim, failing to report income on their tax returns, and much more.

      Johnson’s city manager job included being the fixer and the fall-guy for the city-council’s wheeling and dealing. The result is he shouldered all of the blame.

      The tasks of the prior city manager (Greg Johnson) was (and McKinney’s job will almost certainly be) to get rid of scandals and facilitate unethical (and allegedly illegal) deals. The ex-city manager’s latest scandal-fixer task ended up with him having to “resign” in absolute disgrace and being stripped of much of what he was supposed to get upon retiring from his job.

      And now McKinney will be the one to wipe city-council bottoms for them when they make a mess, and take the fall for them when they get caught.

      The first nightmare he inherits is the lawsuit filed by Haddon Libby against the City of indian Wells, ex-city-manager Greg Johnson, and ex-mayor Patrick Mullany. This lawsuit claims civil and constitutional rights violations, political retaliation and conspiracy. And all of this will be center stage in Indian Wells, with the November elections being a little over five months away.

      I believe McKinney’s new nickname will be “damage control.”

      Can you imagine, starting a new job and walking head-first into that?

      McKinney will also have to deal with a city of people who are very angry at the lavish pay and benefits the city officials receive. They are also still plenty ticked off by the Haddon-Libby disaster and the lawsuit against Indian Wells, its past city manager, and its past mayor/current city council member. It appears that most of the city residents, if they have an opinion on the subject, are behind Haddon Libby. He was simply the resident who questioned the city officials about their salaries and benefits, and the City of Indian Wells played plenty dirty in an attempt to shut him up.

      If the city council runs true to its past, if McKinney’s dealing with one of the city council’s scandals runs into problems, the city council will leave him twisting in the wind, just like they did prior city manager Greg Johnson. McKinney will end up disgraced, considered a liability by potential employers, and without all of the lucrative parting-gift benefits and moola he has been promised.

      McKinney may think he is getting a sweet deal, but history says differently.

      (4) 4 Total Votes - 4 up - 0 down
  7. slojustice says:

    Since Wade’s retirement through PERS is probably based on his highest year salary he is probably going to make a killing. I think these retirement elites should get a 401k and not be able to spike their pension like he is likely doing. He would only have to work in Indian Wells for a year for this to happen.

    (15) 15 Total Votes - 15 up - 0 down
  8. Cindy says:

    Well good luck to Wade and Indian Wells. One thing A-Town doesn’t need is an assistant city manager so perhaps the CC should just promote Jim Lewis and let him know that a replacement for his previous position isn’t appropriate. He will just have to work 12 months a year with standard vacation like everybody else.

    (12) 22 Total Votes - 17 up - 5 down
    • TacomaRose says:

      I thought Lewis already jumped ship and is down in the South County?

      (8) 10 Total Votes - 9 up - 1 down
  9. whoowhoo says:

    Talk about elder abuse in the small town of Indian Wells… I wonder if A-Town would be open to consolidating their city management with Paso? They could split App!

    (8) 20 Total Votes - 14 up - 6 down

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