Morro Bay hires department head in closed process

June 16, 2015

Morro Bay 4Morro Bay City Manager Dave Buckingham hired a new deputy city manager without any public advertising of the position, forgoing the usual process of allowing multiple people to apply.

Buckingham said he pursued Sam Taylor, the former assistant city administrator in Ferndale, Wash., after Taylor pulled his name for a similar job in Atascadero. Buckingham was on an interview panel that looked at the top nine of 112 applicants for the Atascadero position.

As city manager, Buckingham has the power to hire without advertising the position.

Nevertheless, in the past the city has advertised for the hiring of department heads in an open and competitive hiring process. Since the hiring, some Morro Bay residents have voiced their concerns with Buckingham’s hiring practices.

By bypassing the open process, Buckingham said he saved the approximately $10,000 cost of the typical recruitment process.

Taylor is paid $113,000 a year plus benefits for the position he filled on June 1.



  1. mbactivist1 says:

    Just a note to those who keep questioning and attacking Buckingham’s actions and decisions – Morro Bay’s City Manager has a bachelor’s degree in engineering from Pennsylvania State University, a master’s degree in National Security and Strategic Studies from Salve Regina University, and a master’s degree in international relations from the University of Cambridge – yes, THAT University of Cambridge – one of the top universities in the world. This is a very smart guy who is better educated and has more management experience than all of his critics put together.

    No, his management style doesn’t look like that of former Morro Bay city managers, whose education and experience don’t even begin to measure up – and that’s a good thing.

    (-10) 24 Total Votes - 7 up - 17 down
    • mbbizpro says:

      What is the relevance of his education when he makes decisions without the proper degree of public notification and involvement?

      (10) 22 Total Votes - 16 up - 6 down
      • mbactivist1 says:

        He is not required to have public notification and involvement to make hiring and firing decisions. Neither were prior city managers – this is NOT a new way of conducting City business here, or anywhere else.

        Having public involvement in hiring and firing decisions would be absolutely ridiculous. The public does not get to choose City employees. They only get to choose who gets the positions for which people must be elected.

        As for the relevance of his education, it means he’s a very smart guy, and that’s what we need running the City.

        (-4) 18 Total Votes - 7 up - 11 down
        • mbbizpro says:

          Funny, but I didnt ask for notification for firing, so, that is just a diversion. And yes, quite often the hiring is a source of public discussion, just as his hiring was. He did not post the job which limits the ability to find people. He may or may not have had access of the 112 that Atascadero had apply. It seems to me that he was on the interview team, not the preliminary screening. Who is to say that Atascadero made the best decision with their elimination process? What if a different set of candidates made themselves available if we advertised. I commend him for finding someone without paying a recruiter. (By the way, I am a recruiter so I know more than a little about the processes). I question the transparency of the process which is something that you noted repeatedly about the prior council and leadership team. Why is it okay as long as it is done by those that you are partial too?

          (4) 14 Total Votes - 9 up - 5 down
        • Pelican1 says:

          “As for the relevance of his education, it means he’s a very smart guy, and that’s what we need running the City.”
          How do you explain away the mayor and council?

          (6) 10 Total Votes - 8 up - 2 down
    • Pelican1 says:

      So….the cream of the crap, quietly decided to hire the cream of the crop. The fact still remains, the community was excluded from the selection process.
      Buy the way, if he’s that brilliant, you can be sure he won’t stick around long once he discovers how poorly the city is being managed.

      (9) 13 Total Votes - 11 up - 2 down
    • MBwaiter says:

      So you are saying that because he has all these high priced degrees (none of which are in public administration) we should blindly follow him and let him violate numerous rules and regulations. Amazing.

      (7) 13 Total Votes - 10 up - 3 down
    • LovinLosOsos says:

      Oh. You mean the same guy that was made to resign his military post for drunk driving in a 4th of July parade? I’ve never driven after drinking in my life and I’m a critic of his. But you’re still right, I don’t measure up. He’s awesome. I heard that he beat up Chuck Norris once over a game of checkers.

      I’ll have to agree that Penn State has a great youth football program. The coaches spend a lot of time with those kids.

      (1) 13 Total Votes - 7 up - 6 down
      • mbactivist1 says:

        No, there was no drunk driving. I checked all this out when he was first hired. Evidently, someone gave the local press a whole bunch of false information that was later proven to be fantasy, and the drunk story was part of that. My guess is that it was some kind of political “hit”. No doubt there are just as many political rivals and intrigues in the military as there are in corporations and civilian government – rivals after each others’ jobs, and not above slander and libel if it helps them get what they want.

        (-3) 17 Total Votes - 7 up - 10 down
        • mbbizpro says:

          Why would we rely on your guesses? What investigative powers do you have that are not available to the rest of us? A senior officer was run out of the military. For most people that is a cause for concern.

          (8) 14 Total Votes - 11 up - 3 down
        • mbbizpro says:

          Why would we rely on your guesses? What investigative powers do you have that are not available to the rest of us? A senior officer was run out of the military. For most people that is a cause for concern.

          (7) 11 Total Votes - 9 up - 2 down
        • Pelican1 says:

          Ahhh…the Spin Dr. has once again taken a big gulp of the Kool-Aid.

          (6) 10 Total Votes - 8 up - 2 down
          • taxpayer says:

            Let’s not forget this City Manager is the same guy who sued the City of Bishop and got a pay out just before he got here.

            (7) 9 Total Votes - 8 up - 1 down
            • Pelican1 says:

              Another clear example of the do as we say…not as we do mantra.

              (6) 8 Total Votes - 7 up - 1 down
    • OnTheOtherHand says:

      I am not a MB resident so I don’t have a stake in this game. However, as a general rule, I have not seen a direct correlation between intelligence and character. Intelligence is a very useful tool and is not available to everyone. However, character determines how that tool is used and, too often in both government and business, it is used for unethical and self-serving means. I regard both Bill Clinton and Dick Cheney as very intelligent people. I think that both used their intelligence for very immoral purposes (& I am not talking primarily about sex).

      I don’t know enough about Mr. Buckingham to judge his character completely, but his willingness to skip the process of public input on high-level hires (AKA transparency) would have me very concerned if I lived there.

      (6) 8 Total Votes - 7 up - 1 down
  2. mb business owner says:

    buckinghams comments in the Tribune about this action having been taken before is not factual. Other department heads have been promoted without a recruitment however, here are the key differences. 1. they had a known work history working for the city of morro bay as managers for years. 2. they were promoted to jobs that existed with a job description, salary and position that had been approved by the city council. 3. they were promoted to jobs that were FUNDED.

    The notion that this action saved 10K is poppycock, there was no search firm hired to find Buckingham, the former interim city manager conducted that, so why in the world would you hire a search firm for this position?

    For a city council who report to have transparency, this is the epitome of un-transparent. In addition, the comments by chrsitne johnson in the tribune smack of a serial meeting and brown act violation so that should be a follow-up with the FPPC!

    Fellow residents, wake up and pay attention to your city going down the drain.

    Side note – anyone catch the letter to the editor from Betty Winholtz challenging the city manager and city council to tell the truth about the water rate history – fascinating times.

    (12) 24 Total Votes - 18 up - 6 down
    • mbactivist1 says:

      Pretty funny, mb business owner. I seem to recall a whole lot of caterwauling by those formerly in power when Ed Kreins conducted the search that led to hiring the current City Manager. Then, the complaint was that the City SHOULD have hired a search firm. Now, regarding the Deputy City Manager job, we’re hearing, “why in the world would you hire a search firm for this position?”

      It’s the same old same old. Those booted out of power in 2012 attack anything done by the current administration, and don’t seem to even remember or care that not long ago, they were saying something completely different than they’re saying now.

      (2) 24 Total Votes - 13 up - 11 down
      • fishing village says:

        Yes, I agree completely!

        (-6) 16 Total Votes - 5 up - 11 down
      • mbbizpro says:

        This is the same type of thing that you railed against with the old group. I am not suggesting that a search firm was needed, but, the job should have been posted with time for qualified applicants outside the city to apply. Buckingham may have saved the city more than $10,000 vs. using a search firm, but, the process fails to be transparent and does not allow for insuring exposure to a larger number of qualified applicants. Perhaps getting over the group that was “booted out of power” and focusing on the issue at hand is something that would be helpful.

        (6) 18 Total Votes - 12 up - 6 down
        • mbactivist1 says:

          Nice try at diversion, but it won’t work. The issue at hand is very clear. Any career-minded person in this area and outside it who was seriously interested in a city manager job would have applied for the one in Atascadero. They used a standard recruiting process that DID ensure exposure to a large number of qualified applicants – obviously, since they had 112 applications.

          They did the work and spent the money, and Buckingham, being a smart manager, leveraged what they did to benefit Morro Bay. We ended up with the top candidate out of a field of 112 applicants.

          To do the same process over again and waste time and money weeding through the applicants again would be ridiculous and completely unnecessary.

          Again, the people doing the complaining are obviously rejected candidates and/or those formerly in power who are still mad and determined not to like anything that the current administration does.

          (-5) 15 Total Votes - 5 up - 10 down
          • mbbizpro says:

            No, I am sorry, and I am a professional recruiter. Things change in the market as well as the attraction that an employer has to offer. You are also assuming that Atascadero one of the professionals that they excluded from consideration may have not been a better fit. As the public had no input, there is no way to no, just your word that he has far superior knowledge than those of us that disagree with you.

            (3) 9 Total Votes - 6 up - 3 down
            • mbactivist1 says:

              A professional recruiter? Well, that’s telling

              (-5) 11 Total Votes - 3 up - 8 down
              • mbbizpro says:

                Well what type of insult is that intended to be? That I have a job? That I am good at what I do? That companies pay me thousands of dollars to find people that they can’t attract on their own? I am proud of what I do. Insult away.

                (4) 8 Total Votes - 6 up - 2 down
                • taxpayer says:

                  It’s her version of, “I know you are but what am I”?

                  (1) 1 Total Votes - 1 up - 0 down
          • MBwaiter says:

            You are by far the most hypocritical person I have ever meet. If the previous Town Manager had appointed someone like this you would have come unglued. Oh wait, you did come unglued when the City did a proper recruitment for a consultant but refused to give you the panels personal notes and scoring. The bottom line is Buckingham hired someone to job that did not exist, no job description, no salary schedule, no funding approval.

            This has nothing to do with who you voted for, who you support. It has to do with following the correct policies and procedures. Buckingham has shown over and over that he believes he does not have to follow the rules.

            (3) 9 Total Votes - 6 up - 3 down
          • Pelican1 says:

            I guess it’s safe to assume that Morro Bay has become a true autocracy. How unfortunate for the good citizens.

            (5) 7 Total Votes - 6 up - 1 down
      • MBwaiter says:

        Don’t you get tired of making the same argument over and over that the reason people complain is because we were booted out of power. Why don’t you just address the issue that City manager did not this time and repeatedly violates policy and procedure and does whatever he wants and what Irons wants.

        (6) 8 Total Votes - 7 up - 1 down
  3. fishing village says:

    ‘Taxpayer’, gee you must have lost the elections. now, you need to stir up trouble where none exists.

    (-5) 13 Total Votes - 4 up - 9 down
    • taxpayer says:

      Correction: Every taxpayer in Morro Bay lost when the current City Council was elected.

      (4) 14 Total Votes - 9 up - 5 down
  4. taxpayer says:

    To those who aren’t informed: When you wake up someday and find that you’ve lost your Harbor Patrol and it’s been replaced by an outside contractor, when you’ve lost your Fire Department and it’s been replaced by a state agency, Cal Fire and when you’ve lost your local Police Department and it’s been replaced by the Sheriff’s patrolling through town occasionally, you can blame this current City Council and their actions. ALL OF THIS IS BEING CONSIDERED AT THE PRESENT TIME! If you care at all about what’s going on in the City of Morro Bay it’s time to wake up and realize that you’re losing the city you love because of the actions being taken by this council.

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

      Correct, taxpayer. The peasants need to wake up and revolt. Unfortunately, most of us believe the lies at election time, and want to live our lives without having to track down and correct the NUT JOB behaviors of our “leaders”. Poor Morro Bay is still not waking up to it’s last possible chance to crank up a powerful groundswell to reverse Mayor Irons’ capitulation and debauchery in front of the Coastal Commission (we Los Osos $ 24,933 + hundreds a month O & M cost victims/landlords call it “moving the sewer”).

      Huge financial and staff and organizational damage is enacted by duly lame councils and government heads, so, for example, Morro Bay burns while Irons fiddles.

      (9) 17 Total Votes - 13 up - 4 down
    • mbactivist1 says:

      Lose the Harbor Patrol and Fire Department and Police Department? Hardly. If any of these functions were outsourced, it would obviously not be lost. It would still be right where it is now, but operated by a contractor agency that, due to economies of scale, could do the job just as well but for a lot less money.

      Management Partners, the city’s financial consulting firm, has recommended outsourcing for a reason. They have a lot of experience in City administration and finance. The actions they recommend to their clients are actions they have seen work well in other cities.

      Cities all over the State are turning to contractors to save money, and given the awful financial condition the City was left in by earlier administrations, we need to save money wherever we can. We need to cut costs so that we DON’T lose the city we love.

      (-3) 15 Total Votes - 6 up - 9 down
      • mbbizpro says:

        I actually agree with you here. The fewer government employees the better. Let’s start with eliminating the City Manager and contracting that out to someone qualified.

        (6) 8 Total Votes - 7 up - 1 down
    • kkeene88 says:

      thanks taxpayer, you are correct, for those of you who don’t believe this, take a look at the management partners report that was just (finally) distributed with these recommendations.

      (7) 9 Total Votes - 8 up - 1 down

Comments are closed.