The Jake Files

April 14, 2006

Political Immaturity on the Council

Marshall Terrill of the Chandler Connection gets a few quotes on the City Manager affair.  Sample:

Dismissal leaves residents puzzled
That viewpoint seemed to be in direct contrast to the overflow crowd of approximately 200 residents, community and business leaders, city staff and department heads, a majority of who appeared to be in support of Pentz.
Resident Michael Cason said the problem isn’t Pentz, but a few of his bosses.
“We’re pleased with the city manager, please leave him at his post,” Cason said. “I would argue this is not about his performance at all. It’s demonstrative of political immaturity.” (emphasis mine)

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Drunk with Power!

AZCentral.com has today's money quote from Jeff Weninger:

"I'm shocked and incredibly disappointed; they're arrogant and drunk with power," said Weninger, a restaurant owner who has political endorsements from the three Pentz supporters on the seven-member council. "If I'm elected, I would like to bring Mark Pentz back if he wants to come back. The man has shown tremendous character."

 Read the whole thing.

April 13, 2006

Vote in AZCentral.com’s Chandler City Council/Mark Pentz Poll

AZCentral.com has a poll on the handling of Mark Pentz's employment by the Chandler City Council.  You can cast your vote here (the poll is in the lefthand sidebar).

April 12, 2006

East Valley Trib Article: Chandler Manager Bows to Council

Chris Markham has a good summary of Monday's events, including the separation agreement, who voted for it, and the potential for a recall against several councilmembers.  Read it all here.  Excerpt:

Chandler manager bows to council

By Chris Markham, Tribune

April 12, 2006

Despite residents and city employees showing considerable support for Chandler’s city manager, the City Council forced his resignation after a nearly 10-hour job review that stretched past 2 a.m. Tuesday.

“He got a raw deal,” Councilman Bob Caccamo said Tuesday afternoon of the council’s decision to accept the resignation of City Manager Mark Pentz in exchange for the executive’s agreement not to take the city to court.

“It had everything to do with a four-vote, lame-duck majority,” Caccamo said, referring to Vice Mayor Phill Westbrooks and council members Matt Orlando, Donna Wallace and Martin Sepulveda, all of whom were critical of Pentz during his review.

The separation agreement entitles Pentz to a severance package that includes 15 months of regular pay with a 4 percent raise and car allowance, 18 months of health insurance premiums and seven months of retirement contributions that in total will cost Chandler nearly $260,000, according to city estimates.

Westbrooks, Orlando, Wallace, Sepulveda and Mayor Boyd Dunn voted to accept the agreement. Dunn, who supported the city manager during his review, said his vote was aimed at “making sure Mark was treated fair.”

 I'm not sure how I feel about a recall at this point.  I'm generally not in favor of recalls on principle – you cast your vote for the candidate you most agree with, then trust they will act responsibly on your behalf based on the commitments they make during their campaign.  If you don't like what they've done, you have the opportunity to vote against them if they choose to run for re-election. 

I have to say I'm pretty upset about the conduct of Sepulveda and Orlando in this sordid affair.  Not only did a good man have his reputation smeared and his career derailed by pettiness, but the City has to bear the substantial costs of his severance agreement (which he DESERVES based on his treatment).  Those costs also include the time and expense of a search for a new manager, the loss of reputation for our fine city (who's going to want that job now?), and the loss of leadership momentum as we move forward with downtown redevelopment, traffic issues, buildout issues, etc.

I'm not certain how to feel about this fledgling recall effort – I could go either way at this point.  But I am outraged at the conduct of the city council.

By the way, did you see Jeff Weninger's outspoken stand in favor of City Manager Mark Pentz, and the prediction on what it would cost to replace him?  I wonder where the other potential candidates stand on the issue.  Email Becky Jackson at becky@jackson4council.com and Trinity Donovan at trinityforchandler@gmail.com

April 11, 2006

Roundup on the City Manager Controversy

UPDATE:  11:40am

AZCentral.com has an updated story by Edythe Jensen here:

At 2 a.m. Tuesday, and after it became obvious there were four votes to fire Pentz, the city council accepted a separation agreement from the manager's attorney. It gives Pentz more than double the payouts required in his contract but gets rid of him without threats of lawsuits.

The agreement has Pentz working until May 1. He then will go on paid administrative leave for three months and would resign effective Aug. 1.
The move, which is expected to cost taxpayers more than $250,000, came after a crowd of city employees, residents and business leaders showed up to support the manager. Of about 150 who packed the council chambers when the meeting started at 3:30 p.m., nearly 50 stayed until the 2 a.m. conclusion.  (snip)

The agreement, drawn up by Cohen, has Pentz receiving a 4 percent increase in base salary retroactive to Jan. 19, 2006. On July 31, the city will pay him 12 months of base salary and 12 months of car allowance. On Aug. 1, Pentz will receive $3,000 for expenses associated with a job search.

Pentz, 55, was hired in 2004 and is paid $167,280 annually. A former city manager for Rockville, Md., Pentz is Chandler's third chief executive in six years. He succeeded Donna Dreska who was on the job a year when she resigned under fire in 2003 after the council agreed to pay her about $100,000 in severance concessions.

So let me get this straight.  The City Council paid $100 grand 3 years ago to get rid of city Manager Donna Dreska.  Now they're going to pay more than $250 grand to get rid of Mark Pentz?  When the city economy is booming and local business leaders voice support for him?  Are they nuts?  This is fiscally irresponsible.  I wish Mr. Pentz well.  He deserves respect, and he deserves to walk away with what he received.
 

Yesterday's East Valley Tribune has some background on the issue, but no new story reporting on what happened last night. 

The Republic has info here, and background here, and here.  Interesting about the number of people that initially attended (c. 150).  Watching the proceedings after midnight last night, it looked like a handful were still there.  The story was filed at midnight, with no resolution reported.

The Chandler Independent has nothing (as of 9:15am).

The San Tan Sun Times won't publish again until this weekend, but they'll probably have a good blow-by-blow description.

The Wrangler News independent paper, the Chandler Connection, the Phoenix Business Journal, the Chandler Chamber of Commerce, and the City of Chandler website all have nothing.

Geo's Precinct 134 linked to our post from last night (thanks!), but no new information.

Reader A.M. left the following comment that leads me to believe the council accepted the terms of the proposed severance agreement:

What did I tell you? It made me want to puke. Pentz got a lot of money, but they won’t be able to be sued. I wonder if in the executive session the City Attorney politely told Orlando et al what dumbasses they are and that they better take the deal, because they were definitely going to get sued otherwise. Can’t wait for the recalls to start. Our city needs to be free of those two incompetents. Thank God for term limits, too (Westbrooks and Wallace).
Good luck finding a job, BTW. I hear there’s a city manager position open here in Chandler. No one in their right mind would take it, however. . .

Comment by A.M. — April 11, 2006 @ 2:43 am

So what is one to do if they want the full story?  I guess I'll have to watch the rest of the meeting that I Tivo'd.  But, as A.M. reminds me, I am still looking for a new job, so council-watching and additional blogging will have to wait until tonight. 

And, thanks for the suggestion A.M., but based on the way this council has treated their current City Manager, I don't think I care to dip my toe into that shark tank.  Hard to imagine who would.

Railroading by the Chandler City Council

So, I never made it to the public ass reaming performance appraisal for the Chandler City Manager, Mark Pentz, which started at 3:30pm today yesterday.  It's now 12:30am, and it's still going on, live, on the public access channel.

I set the DVR to record the meeting so I could watch it later.  Flipping channels around 10pm I found what I thought was the re-broadcast.  I quickly found the proceedings to alternate between interesting, in the councilmembers' focus on minutiae of how quickly Mr. Pentz responded to requests, and mind-numbingly dull.

Being the multi-tasker I am, I decided to check out YouTube, which I've heard much about, but haven't really checked out yet.  That was MUCH more entertaining.  Some videos that were MORE entertaining than Martin Sepulveda's head spinning around included:

Interpretation of a Fallout Boy Song  (hysterical!)

Pachelbel's Canon – Guitar Style  (this guy's talented)

Urban Ninja  (guy with a serious Spiderman complex)

Art-Rash Megamix Video  (hilarious!)

So, I started paying a bit more attention to the council meeting when Mark Pentz's attorney addressed the council.  This is apparently, according to some of the comments, NOT the rebroadcast – they're actually still there LIVE after midnight. The attorney seems like a pretty bright and competent guy, in contrast to the councilmembers who are asking dumb questions about the meaning of the severance agreement the attorney proposed in the event a termination is voted.  Right now, Councilmember Orlando is holding forth on points that Mr. Pentz has "acknowledged" mishandling, and is cross examining him like an attorney in a courtroom.  Now he's asking Mr. Pentz about his professional relationships with prior city council members (in other cities he's managed).  A few minutes ago, Mr. Pentz's attorney was explaining the difference between dismissal for no reason (at-will) and for a BAD reason (which can be litigated in an at-will state).  It seems to me that holding someone accountable, under the cloak of a performance appraisal, for actions taken prior to being employed with the current organization, would be a BAD reason to fire someone.  Orlando is an idiot, and the City deserves to get sued if they fire Pentz.

This is tedious.  I'm going to bed.  Good luck Mr. Pentz, I hope you have a job tomorrow.

April 4, 2006

Chandler AZ City Manager Controversy

I'm not sure what this is about exactly:

CHANDLER – City Manager Mark Pentz, facing the prospect of losing his job next week, is fighting back.

In a rare move by a municipal chief executive, Pentz has asked that his normally closed-door job evaluation be held in an open City Council meeting and that confidential personnel reports be made public.

Those reports, obtained Monday by The Arizona Republic, show that Pentz has overwhelming support from top city employees and low ratings from four of the seven City Council members. Employees and elected officials were not identified in the documents.

I've read previous reports about tension between Pentz and one of the voting blocs on the council, but I've never heard what the source was.  By all accounts, Pentz has done a good job as city manager.  What makes me more curious is that the four members of the council who are opposed to Pentz are the ones I tend to favor (Westbrooks, Wallace, Orlando, and Sepulveda). 

The four – Martin Sepulveda, Matt Orlando, Phill Westbrooks and Donna Wallace – voted to hold the public meeting at 3:30 p.m. next Monday after Sepulveda's suggestion to have it at 4 p.m. today in a conference room failed.

If I'm still not employed by next Monday, I'm tempted to attend the council meeting to see what all the controversy is about. 

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