Morro Bay hires new city manager amid employment dispute

August 13, 2014
David Buckingham

David Buckingham

By JOSH FRIEDMAN

Morro Bay selected a new city manager the same day the applicant agreed to a settlement from a city that decided it did not want to hire him.

The Morro Bay City Council unanimously selected retiring U.S. Army Colonel David W. Buckingham from a pool of 50 applicants. The outgoing Army colonel agreed to take the position on Monday.

In the last year, Buckingham has lost both an Army command position he held and a city administrator job he sought. The dispute over the city manager position concluded Monday.

Following a contentious run in with military police, Buckingham had been trying to transition from the Army to a city manager position. Earlier this year, Buckingham applied for the city administrator’s job in Bishop, California.

The Bishop City Council reportedly chose to hire Buckingham, but then backed out after already agreeing to the contract.

On July 28, the Bishop City Council gave the city administrator job to another applicant.

Buckingham then sent the city of Bishop a letter claiming he had suffered damages.

The Bishop City Council voted to offer Buckingham a $38,000 settlement in order to avoid litigation over the contractual dispute, according to the Sierra Wave. Buckingham agreed to the settlement on Monday.

During his more than 25 years of military service, Buckingham commanded an Army airborne division and several battalions and served as the director of operations for the U.S. Army in Africa. From June 2011 to Sept. 2013, Buckingham held the position of commander of the U.S. Army garrison in Vicenza, Italy.

The American military base in Vicenza consisted of 16,000 people and operated with a $120 million budget, according to Buckingham’s LinkedIn page. Buckingham equates the job of garrison commander to the civilian position of city manager.

Last September, Army officials relieved Buckingham from his role of garrison commander two months after he engaged in a verbal altercation with a military policeman during a July 4 parade traffic jam. Italian media reported that Buckingham was drinking during the parade, in which he was supposed to be driving a vehicle.

Buckingham denies the allegation that he was under the influence of alcohol. He did admit, though, to losing his temper and cursing at the military policeman.

An army investigation found that Buckingham did not do anything criminal during the incident, but the colonel still lost his position as base commander. He has since worked in Washington, D.C. as director of the Army’s environmental programs.

The Morro Bay City Council must still finalize Buckingham’s hiring. The council is scheduled to do so at its next meeting on Aug. 26.

Buckingham is expected to begin work in Morro Bay on Sept. 28. His base salary will likely be $160,000.

Morro Bay has gone without a permanent city manager since January. Under the leadership of Mayor Jamie Irons, the Morro Bay council forced out both its city manager and city attorney late last year.

The employment dispute, which spanned several months, ended with former city manager Andrea Lueker and former city attorney Rob Schultz both accepting severance packages in exchange for their resignations.

Irons has since staved off a recall effort and won reelection. He has also maintained control of the council majority.

If the council hires Buckingham at the agreed upon rate, the colonel will receive a higher pay at the start of his contract than Lueker did at the conclusion of hers. Lueker left the city with a base salary of about $152,000.

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kkeene88

This is exactly the caliber of applicants that you would expect when you try to “go on the cheap” for an important recruitment like city manager . Many qualified applicants don’t apply when the search is not done by a professional firm. The concept that having the interim city manager doing the search would save money is ludicrous. Keep in mind this is the second bunch of applicants that have been interviewed, the first apparently washed out for different reasons. In terms of the applicant, red flags (numerous) are waving all over the place. The best thing for the city council to do is to back out, hire a professional firm and end up with a professional city manager without a cluttered and questionable background – the city council owes that to the residents.


Myself

Backing out now,wed end up paying this joker 50 to 100 large just to go away,but that will most likely be the cheapest way to go in the long run,this isn’t going to go well.


MajorityFan

Still less paid out then we had to pay the former city manager and city attorney after former council raised their payoff during their unofficial closed council meeting.


Myself

Good God we go from bad to worse,why in the hell would anyone hire this guy,his track record sucks,he’s from the east coast and as was already posted he knows nothing about MB,Ca state law or anything else around here,this is pathetic,this isn’t an army base.

What a bunch of morons.


Gordo

Maybe the strategy here is CYA.If you were on the city council and you knew that the city is about to hit the rocks financially what better way to cover your ass than to hire a “manager” with a drinking problem whom you can blame the financial troubles on in a year’s time when the bills come due. “His credentials were impeccable; how were we to know his drinking would so cloud his financial judgement.”


nurse1

Myself……….yes MORONS. Mayor MORON Jamie Irons along with council MORONS Noah Schmukler, and Christine Johnson. Will not matter as we are going back to county control under their inept leadership or in this case has been lack thereof.


Myself

O yeah the county is just waiting for MB to fall on its ass.then we’ll go back to the dark ages.

Yeah your right the water front and sand spit was used for drills.


Kevin Rice

Hey, it used to be a military base like sixty years ago! Close enough, no?


wineguyjc

Folks, it could have been worse. They could have hired that condom guy from slotown, just saying


MajorityFan

Or another junior lifeguard.


taxpayer

If this guy is the best of 50 people who applied for the job, none of them should have been accepted. If this is due diligence on the part of the City Council then they must be blind. There are big problems coming Morro Bay’s way and they’re all of their own making. Hiring someone from the East Coast, who has never dealt with California laws and regulations and was demoted for his lack of leadership ability is not a step forward. When this is all over Morro Bay will be unincorporated and taking orders from the Board of Supervisors. How sad!


Gordo

with the election over I predict that in the coming months the citizens of Morrow Bay are going to be in for a great shock when they find out just how dire the financial situation is in Morro Bay. The idea that they may be forced into contracting to the county for services is not far off I believe that this contract agreement for dispatching services is only the beginning you will soon see CDF making contract offers to provide fire service followed closely behind I’m sure by the sheriff’s office. Most of the financial troubles were hidden by the City Council prior to the election because they did not want it to be a factor in their races.


taxpayer

There is no doubt that this is going to happen. Within the next few years there will be no Morro Bay Police Department and no Morro Bay Fire Department. Also, I believe that this council is working towards putting a building moratorium into effect before too long. Their plan is to stop everything ( unless, of course, it concerns either them, personally, or one of their friends). They don’t care what it costs the people on fixed incomes, who have lived here their whole lives here. They don’t care about working people. They have an agenda and they’re sticking to it. They’re also sticking it to all of us. How sad!


nurse1

Gordo…we ALL know under Irons, The Shmuckler, and Christine Johnsons poor leadership we will become unincorporated. This is just the beginning of the downfall of Morro Bay. So sad to see such a great city crumble because of these 3 arrogant, inept FOOLS.


ToHellinaHandBasket

So much wrong here:


1. “In the last year, Buckingham has lost both an Army command position he held and a city administrator job he sought.”


2. “Following a contentious run in with military police, Buckingham had been trying to transition from the Army to a city manager position. Earlier this year, Buckingham applied for the city administrator’s job in Bishop, California.”


3. “The Bishop City Council voted to offer Buckingham a $38,000 settlement in order to avoid litigation over the contractual dispute, according to the Sierra Wave. Buckingham agreed to the settlement on Monday.”


4. “Last September, Army officials relieved Buckingham from his role of garrison commander two months after he engaged in a verbal altercation with a military policeman during a July 4 parade traffic jam. Italian media reported that Buckingham was drinking during the parade, in which he was supposed to be driving a vehicle.”


Last September, Army officials relieved Buckingham from his role of garrison commander two months after he engaged in a verbal altercation with a military policeman during a July 4 parade traffic jam. Italian media reported that Buckingham was drinking during the parade, in which he was supposed to be driving a vehicle. Buckingham denies the allegation that he was under the influence of alcohol. He did admit, though, to losing his temper and cursing at the military policeman.[of course].


5. “An army investigation found that Buckingham did not do anything criminal during the incident, but the colonel still lost his position as base commander. He has since worked in Washington, D.C. as director of the Army’s environmental programs.” [ again, of course].


6. “If the council hires Buckingham at the agreed upon rate, the colonel will receive a higher pay at the start of his contract than Lueker did at the conclusion of hers. Lueker left the city with a base salary of about $152,000.” [ and once again, of course].


Welcome to 21st century politics. Good luck Morro [or should I say, “Moron”] Bay. Stay tuned CCN followers.


taxpayer

So, one week after settling a lawsuit with the City of Bishop for $38,000, and after being relieved of his command in the Army, the City of Morro Bay hires this guy for the city manager position at a higher salary than the past city manager was paid. Why am I not surprised?


nurse1

taxpayer……do not jump to conclusions! Maybe Mayor Irons wife who is the HR Director for the City of SLO is looking to put him on the payroll of SLO like she did Christine Johnsons husband. Sure there is more to their tangled non ending web of deceit.


Gordo

Geez, this guy is going to get along well with the Morro Bay police chief; she has some shortcomings in the area of interpersonal communications too..


racket

From other reports, “the Colonel” sounds like a tough guy, which is just what MB needs to bring it back in line. Hopefully his ass-kickin’, name-takin’ reputation can clean that town up. Good luck.


Pelican1

In order to do that, he’d first have to get rid of the Mayor, council, and staff.


MajorityFan

Why don’t you try another recall?


aft50s

racket;


What “other reports” are you referring to? All I can find is that he verbally abused a subordinate MP (most likely some 19 year old kid) – yep, that makes him a “tough guy”


As for your other descriptors… he got a “ass kickin” by the General, and his “name-takin” revolved around finding an attorney to represent himself.


Now if City staff will just leave the gate open, he might be able to function.


Mr. Holly

Sounds like this guy will fit in very well with everything else going on in the county.


It will be interesting to see what is in the entire benefit package and what it will cost the city when he goes down the road?


Gordo

Pop up some Orville Reddenbacher’s, sit back and watch the antics of city government! Someone should make it into a reality show! “What happens when a Drunk army colonel meets angry lesbian police chief and a bunch of hand wringing city council members facing a defunct power plant and dwindling tax base?” Find out on TLC’s new series “Morro Bay: Down and Out!


panflash

Gordo, I don’t know about anyone else, but as far as I’m concerned, you just won the award for “The Post of the Year” with that message.


I fell on the floor laughing, and it took me about 5 minutes to get back up on my chair.


Thanks for the laughs!


Gordo

Panflash, you are welcome! I wrote it to illustrate the absurd by being absurd.. But, really why would you hire a candidate with so many red flags? Bishop offers him a job and retracts the offer? That what you call a clue that he is a fishy candidate..


Gordo

on this week’s episode Colonel Mustard explains to Kim Kardashian the finer points of civil defense with his own demonstration of duck and cover…


Mr. Holly

The best comment of the day. Maybe the Kardasians could move to MB to add to the the upcoming show?


nurse1

Gordo…..you could not have said it better. You just forgot the part about the USELESS mayor of Morro Bay Jamie Irons, and his two blind ducks…Christine Johnson and Noah Schmuckler. Will not be long, the city of MB will be going back to the county thanks to these three idiots. Soon to add the fourth.Oh forgot about ol Dick and Jane. The leaders of the defunct pack.


LameCommenter

“angry Lesbian police chief”. “Drunk army colonel”. Sometimes truth is funnier than fiction. If laughter oxygenates the blood, I’m high on O2 right now. Thank You, Gordo. No need for medical cannabis here, just read commentary on the Morro Bay fiasco, laugh, smile.


An A++ post, Gordo, except you left out the council members facing “tens of millions squandered after failing to push the Coastal Commission for an obvious, cheaper, common sense existing sewer plant refit”.


MajorityFan

Wasn’t the over $2 million previous council wasted on their misguided effort enough to let you know the it was never going to pass the CC?


kkeene88

Based on the article in the tribune, he is starting out at 160k and then receiving another 17K since he is not taking the city’s health plan – basically he’s getting cash back (or in the case deferred comp), so we actually up to 177K versus the former manager’s 152K.


taxpayer

And this is just his starting salary.


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