Updated: Fri, Nov 18, 2011, 1:38 pm
Uploaded: Thu, Nov 17, 2011, 9:15 am
Atherton: Ed Flint named 'acting interim city manager'
Atherton's Interim Police Chief Ed Flint has added "acting interim city manger" to his job title after John Danielson, the interim city manager, became seriously ill and unable to return to Atherton while on a trip out of California this week.
The City Council appointed Mr. Flint to the position as an "urgency item" at its meeting Wednesday night, Nov. 16, in Jennings Pavilion in Holbrook-Palmer Park.
Mr. Flint, who will serve until Mr. Danielson can return to work or the council replaces him, said he will be doing both jobs temporarily at no additional pay. While the situation "caught me by surprise, too," he said, he is confident he will be able to handle both jobs. Like other Atherton department heads "I attend just about all the city managers meetings," he said.
"Mr. Danielson has organized and assembled a real strong staff here."
"I'm just interested in getting Mr. Danielson back here … and that he makes a speedy recovery," Chief Flint said.
Chief Flint began serving as interim police chief in July. He has 35 years of multi-agency law enforcement experience including serving as police chief in Santa Rosa and Elk Grove. He also worked during his career with the California Highway Patrol in Redwood City and the Sacramento County sheriff's department, and was assistant police chief in Citrus Heights.
He is a retired Army colonel, and served in the Army Reserves and California National Guard.
In an interview on Nov. 10, Mr. Danielson praised the job that is being done for Atherton by Chief Flint. "He's doing a great job," he said adding that Chief Flint has made a number of positive changes in the police department. "He's enhancing the whole educational process over there," instituting new policies and procedures.
"It's just a different department," Mr. Danielson said. "Ed is the driving force."
In the interview, Mr. Danielson said that Chief Flint has also proved a valuable asset to the town with his input at staff meetings on topics not related to the police department.
Mr. Danielson was hired by the town as interim manager last December. Formerly, he was city manager of Elk Grove and Wildomar, both in California. He operates the Danielson Associates consulting firm in Sacramento. When he was hired, he said he was not a candidate for the permanent manager's position.
The council voted unanimously to appoint Chief Flint to the acting position. One Atherton resident sent a letter protesting the appointment. Kimberly Sweidy, who has been involved in a dispute with the town over problems with the construction of her home, said she did not support the appointment.
"There are so many problems with this that I don't even now where to start," she wrote. She said that the chief and city manager jobs are "self-evidently, distinct" and questioned Chief Flint's qualifications to do the job. "We do not live in a Police State," she wrote.
Deputy City Clerk Theresa DellaSanta said she is not allowed, by law, to comment on an employee's medical issues so could give no information on Mr. Danielson's condition.
Chief Flint said that the town has not yet started the process of looking for a permanent city manager.
Posted by Kimberly Sweidy,
a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda
on Nov 22, 2011 at 4:14 pm
Dear Mr. Conners,
Thank you for the email dripping in condescension. I can see that you are doing a fabulous job of filling the shoes of your predecessor, Ms. Furth. I find it particularly telling that you replied without including my original emails.
The law is not "my law," it is the law. I don't own it. I make no proprietary claims to it.
The facts fit perfectly. Only a semantic gymnast would even attempt to claim that an Attorney General Publication saying that the Police Chief cannot be the City Manager does not apply to a case where the Police Chief has been appointed as City Manager.
Sticking the words "Acting" and "Interim" into the mix is neither convincing nor dispositive. They change nothing. Further, given the Town of Atherton's inability to recruit and retain properly credentialed and skilled talent to permanent positions, "acting" and "interim" have lost all meaning. The Town cannot circumvent the law by playing games with titles.
"someone needs to be appointed to act in his absence"
Agreed. It just cannot be anyone whose duties are incompatible, thereby violating Government Code section 1099. The most logical choice to act in a City Manager's absence is an Assistant City Manager. In the absence of that title, a person who performs that role on a daily basis. As I am not an expert in the division of duties at the Town of Atherton, I can only guess that the person is probably Ms. DellaSanta, but that is only a guess. Prior to this time, it was Eileen Wilkerson.
You speak in terms of disasters, as those who seek to distract and obfuscate always do. In the event of an emergency, clearly the full power and expertise of the Town of Atherton government would be called upon for decision making. In that case, the person "wet signing" would not be acting alone, but in conjunction with the pool of leaders. Ms. DellaSanta's signature would be as good as any.
My concern is for the day to day conflicts that arise when the Police Chief is acting as his own supervisor. Unfettered power, backed by the legal use of force, are my concern, and should be the concern of every freedom-loving American.
"The acting official does not hold any office, merely acts on behalf of the true office holder. He or she is not paid extra to act on behalf of the Manager, nor does he assume any special duties or privileges while so acting. For example, he cannot act in a manner detrimental to his own office. He can't act on discipline from him or herselve for example. The duty is limited to acting in those areas where action is required before the real office holder can return."
Huh? Seriously? Do you actually believe that this explanation is at all illuminating? Can I have a written laundry list of what he is and is not allowed to do? Because honestly, this paragraph is as clear as mud.
"If a city manager went on a month-long cruise or safari, I'm sure you wouldn't suggest the City would be essentially frozen, unable to take any actions, pay employees, or in any way run the municipality. Sorry, but the law does not require this absurd result."
I was wondering when the Straw Man Argument would appear. And here it is, right on cue. I never suggested that the Town of Atherton be frozen when the City Manager goes on vacation. Stop attributing absurd statements to me. It is patronizing and offensive. Further, the City Manager is not on vacation. He has an undisclosed illness, the severity of which is unknown. He is currently in an undisclosed location, out of state. Excuse me if I do not equate the current situation with the case where the City Manager is on vacation.
"which they could do, and in fact used to be the case in Atherton"
Well, that is an interesting factoid. It seems that the Town of Atherton has a history of being poorly run, fraught with potential conflict and incompatible responsibilities.
"It wasn't that long ago that the Police Chief was also the City Manager although the jobs were not separately filled."
What in the world does this even mean?
"but please note that it is not a legal problem."
Oh, but it is.
Kimberly R. Sweidy, JD, MBA
Attorney at Law
From: bill conners <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: "email@example.com" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Cc: "email@example.com" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "john danielson" <email@example.com>, "Theresa DellaSanta" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Tue, Nov-22-2011 3:22 PM
Subject: Incompatible offices
Thanks for your emails regarding this topic. Unfortuntately, however correct your law is, the facts simply don't fit and your conclusion is therefore wrong. Please let me explain.
There is only 1 Interim City Manager, John Danielson. Whenever he leaves the area for whatever reason, most commonly on vacation, someone needs to be appointed to act in his absence. An "acting" appointment is important so that continuity is maintained in the event of an emergency or administrative catastrophic event requiring some sort of urgent response before the real City Manager can return.
The introduction of cell phones and emails have dramatically reduced the need for such appointments, but because the City Manager serves as the director of emergency services when a disaster strikes, and wet signatures are required on declarations of emergency and other similar documents, appointment of an acting official is extremely common.
The acting official does not hold any office, merely acts on behalf of the true office holder. He or she is not paid extra to act on behalf of the Manager, nor does he assume any special duties or privileges while so acting. For example, he cannot act in a manner detrimental to his own office. He can't act on discipline from him or herselve for example. The duty is limited to acting in those areas where action is required before the real office holder can return.
This makes incredible common sense as well. If a city manager went on a month-long cruise or safari, I'm sure you wouldn't suggest the City would be essentially frozen, unable to take any actions, pay employees, or in any way run the municipality. Sorry, but the law does not require this absurd result.
You would be correct if the Town wanted to appoint a full-time Police Chief to the position of City Manager without merging the jobs, which they could do, and in fact used to be the case in Atherton. It wasn't that long ago that the Police Chief was also the City Manager although the jobs were not separately filled.
Again, thanks for bringing this to our attention, but please note that it is not a legal problem. Bill Conners, City Attorney
If you were a member and logged in you could track comments from this story.