Arroyo Grande’s city manager a bad fit

January 6, 2016
Julie Tacker

Julie Tacker

OPINION By JULIE TACKER

A year ago, in its search to replace embattled City Manager Steve Adams, the Arroyo Grande City Council voted unanimously to retain the same recruiting firm, Peckham & McKenney that the city of Bell had hired to help its city leaders there find a new city manager.

The Arroyo Grande Council authorized the use of $26,000 in taxpayer funds to recruit Adams’ replacement; Adams had been at the helm of the city’s business for over 14 years.
The council, and the public, put their faith in Peckham & McKenney to find a good fit for Arroyo Grande. The city had been through a tumultuous scandal involving a late night sobering up of two high level employees found after hours in a compromising position.

The city’s decision to seek expert advice from a recruiting firm gave no reason for the public to question the unanimous choice for a city manager when they hired Dianne Thompson. It wasn’t until recently that questions have arisen as to who Thompson is and what is her background. A simple Google search reveals Thompson had troubles in her last city manager position that appear to be mirroring her performance in Arroyo Grande.

Thompson was interviewed in 2013 by California City Management Foundation where she said, “My job as city manager to help the council toward completion of their goals.”

Yet, Thompson, whose contract requires a meeting of the council and the city manager within 45 days of her start date to “establish agreed upon goals for the first year…” has failed to agendize such a meeting with the council. Additionally, Thompson’s contract requires the council review her performance at her six month anniversary, with little to show for her first months on the job, the city council needs to take a good hard look at what they want in a city manager.

A city manager’s job performance is everything. The Dec. 8 Arroyo Grande City Council meeting battle in which Mayor Hill and Councilman Brown tried to get the Brisco Interchange discussion on an agenda proved something was wrong. For the good of the city and the benefit of the public, no battle should have ensued.

Thompson had to have known that the mayor has the authority, given to him by state law, to agendize an item for a special meeting. Thompson should have saved the taxpayers the cost of a special meeting and simply agendized the matter as had been the mayor’s request.

Additionally, Thompson appeared to play along in the much ado about nothing, developer Nick Tompkins verses Planning Commissioner John Mack’s Fair Political Practices Commission complaint. The FPPC confirmed Mack had no conflict yet Thompson allowed the public flogging of both Mack and Tompkins in a hearing that never should have taken place.

Furthermore, Thompson often hands the reins over to staff. Watching her in action at a city council meeting, she has little to say or little knowledge of the matters before the council. After six months on the job, a $179,000 annual salary, a $400 a month car allowance and a full benefit package, the city must expect more from its manager.

These costs, compounded by the money spent on a recruiter, the city council needs to consider that Thompson simply may not be the right fit for Arroyo Grande.


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41 Comments

  1. lovey94931 says:

    I’m one of the Cotati citizens that was contacted about Dianne Thompson by citizens of Arroyo Grande. Their gut feelings about Dianne Thompson were right and Cotati is still recovering from the damage she caused.

    While it is not official, everyone here knows she was fired. It took six months to get rid of her. When she was finally out of the door, the city council at its next meeting passed unamiously some resolutions on personnel policy about the city manager’s position, nicknamed the “how to fire a city manager faster” resolutions. She went about 30 miles away to Ross in Marin County, but her reputation caught up with her there, and she wasn’t hired as the city manager when she was interim city manager.

    She had to move out of the area to get a position. She is smart, but it would have been best for her to “lay low” after what happened up here.

    Don’t let her get to your city finances. There is so much crap she did with ours. In 2014, she manufactured a financial emergency that allowed an extra sales tax measure that was sunseting to be extended for 9 years and increased to 1% extra to pass at a special election. The predictions touted by her was that they’d have to sell off city buildings and shudder the police department. There were no sources in the predictions, and now the prediction doesn’t make sense. The city of Cotati now has the highest sales tax rate in Sonoma County.

    The sales tax measure was advertised to benefit “essential city services”, such as the police, roads, and recreation. Dianne Thompson, three months after it passed, snuck into the budget book that acceptable uses were capital improvement projects and community development. The city has never had the bookkeeping methods to track the sales tax funds. The measure that was sunsetting (Measure A), was supposed to have annual audits of the monies. In the five years it was in effect, no audits were completed…all when Dianne Thompson was city manager.

    There’s more, but I’d be writing to midnight. Our two newspapers know about the corruptness going on in Cotati. They have been provided evidence that what is going on is true. Yet, they write crap supporting the corrupt city council and libel anyone that challenges the city. A few of us have “disappeared” from their Facebook page/stories for the last year, because the paper is worried about libel suits.

    You all deserve someone truly that is for the common good of your city. Good luck.

    (10) 24 Total Votes - 17 up - 7 down
  2. FreeAGCouncil.com says:

    Slowfaster…
    Go for a run or go back to bed. Your posting is off base and makes you seem nuts.

    (1) 7 Total Votes - 4 up - 3 down
    • kayaknut says:

      “seem” not even an option, most of us here know the fact and don’t even read them or comment, other than for a good laugh.

      (0) 4 Total Votes - 2 up - 2 down
  3. Redsoxman says:

    A.G. could have hired a competent, knowledgeable, experienced City Manager who is very familiar with the Central Coast. They determined that she was not even worth an interview. Port San Luis knew what they were doing when they hired her as Interim Port Manager, and will hopefully offer her the full-time position later this year. That’s Andrea Lueker I’m referring to, the woman who rose from the ashes when Morro Bay’s Unholy Trinity tried unsuccessfully to burn her reputation to the ground.

    (5) 37 Total Votes - 21 up - 16 down
  4. Seecanyonrd says:

    C’mon. Really? Everyone knows that Julie Tacker is Mayor Hill’s mouth piece. She does his dirty work because he is a failure as a leader. AG needs a leader, not bullies.

    (15) 79 Total Votes - 47 up - 32 down
    • justbeware says:

      Who’s line are you buying?
      Hill speaks his own mind, he certainly needs no “mouth piece”.
      Watch the meetings–Hill is doing just fine on his own.
      Thompson doesn’t want an item on the agenda–fine–but Hill made his point about how the city manager alone was re$pon$ible for the added expen$e to taxpayer$ due to the $pecial meeting.
      It took Hill less than a year to get those fwy on/off ramps closed, and he damn sure wasn’t about to have the citizens foot the bill for reopening them so soon.
      Ferrara and his followers were able to avoid this already proven solution to the Brisco nightmare for more than a decade.

      Nice work Mayor Hill!

      (-4) 60 Total Votes - 28 up - 32 down
  5. PismoPat says:

    You were right on about the attach on John Mack. This is right out of the Dianne Thompson playbook that she used in Cotati.

    You can search the FPPC site for Cotati no action responses and see some of them.

    The idea is to report the citizen to an outside agency so they can diminish their effectiveness.

    Sound familiar? Can you say CJPIA and Mayor Hill?

    (8) 38 Total Votes - 23 up - 15 down
    • AGDUDE says:

      John Mack is not the brightest bulb in the box.. just saying .. seen him in action..know him. tends to be pushy.

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

    Respectfully C.V. You are wrong. Where there is smoke there is fire!

    The new City Manager of Arroyo Grande has made serious mistakes. She listened to the old guard before understanding the new. The city is now weeping in a controversy which she has joined.

    Julie Tacker is an astute public servant. She exposes the stripped PC (political correctness) of the area in fingering the truth on matters that defile the interest of the cetizens.

    Her political axe exposes the nagging corruption prominent in Oceano, the sewer district, the FCFA (Fire authority) and the transparent attack to demean AG mayor Jim Hill and his administration of the affairs of the City of Arroyo Grande.

    I thank her for her efforts and the editorial journalism of CalCioastNews on all of these matters — for the truth will out!

    (-11) 55 Total Votes - 22 up - 33 down
    • C.V. says:

      OTIS PAGE, tisk tisk you’re following JULIE TACKER into the abys. If you’re not following you are both joined at the hip of consciousness as the brain has failed your senses.
      Where there is smoke, there is fire. Wrong Otis. Now read and learn.
      This fallacy occurs because you have jumped to that conclusion without actually knowing what caused the smoke — several different things can create smoke or smoke-like effects without there being a fire involved.
      This fallacy is more formally known as the “Hasty Conclusion” or “Jumping to a Conclusion” for that very reason — one jumps to a hasty conclusion without actually examining the evidence or anything behind the claim.
      “An astute public servant”? I think not. Now give her a kiss.
      Good-night OTIS.

      (16) 46 Total Votes - 31 up - 15 down
      • PismoPat says:

        C.V. Thank you for the excellent boy scout lesson.

        However, your fallacy argument stems from the informal fallacy of “Hasty Generalization” which is jumping to a conclusion based on insufficient evidence.

        There have been more then enough smoke/fire episodes in the world that there is nothing “hasty” about Otis’s statement.

        If you saw smoke coming from your house when you arrived home, would you wait until you saw fire before calling the “fire” department?

        There definitely is smoke coming from AG City Hall.

        Check out Hasty Generalization on Wikipedia. :-)

        (-1) 33 Total Votes - 16 up - 17 down
        • Slowerfaster says:

          Polemicists use the ‘fog of mis-information’ almost always invented / created by them, for a false impression of ‘smoke’…’fire’; to gin up the fear in the stupid class.

          Not a ‘hasty generalization’ here, but a manufactured crisis, that is one of JT’s frequent MO’s.

          (10) 20 Total Votes - 15 up - 5 down

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