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July 12, 2013

Rick Daniels One Of Three Finalists For County Administrator In Oregon

The Oregonian is reporting that Desert Hot Springs City Manager Rick Daniels is one of the three finalists for the position County Administrator of Clackamas County. A public meet-and-greet will be held July 17, 6:30 PM at Abernethy Center, 606 15th St. in Oregon City, Oregon.

Filed under Desert Hot Springs | permalink | July 12, 2013 at 09:38 PM


So I guess Dean Gray is correct in his assessment as was Russell Betts and Adam Sanchez were when they spoke about their concerns at the city council sessions. Rick appears to be a City Manager who has no problem presenting the city with deficit spending budgets for years that finally has gotten us to this sad point. Rick is looking to leave before the citizens have to deal with the mess he and the three city council members have created. I don't need Dean Gray to tell me this. It's all to obvious. Rumor has it even the Police Chief is actively looking to leave this financial mess.

Posted by: Chris at Jul 18, 2013 10:02:13 PM

The report from Urban Futures, which I've linked to, is a reliable source of information and it's very likely that what Michael Busch said in the meeting was consistent with his report.

In the past when I have read a Dean Gray report on a meeting where I have been present, the fictional content has been substantial. To waste time trying to verify a Dean Gray story is to get pulled into a sideshow.

If you've read the Urban Futures report and been paying any attention at all, then you know the city's financial situation is serious.

Posted by: Ron's Log at Jul 18, 2013 1:00:58 PM

It is not "impossible" to verify the article Chris points to. To the contrary, all you have to do is pick up the phone and call the people that are named. It is not like they are strangers in Desert Hot Springs. It is a very serious subject. Dismissing the issue because you find someone's spelling atrocious is also really weak.

I would hope you would prefer to have the answer rather than ignore it. Is the city in as serious financial trouble as the finance committee and Urban Futures is saying, according to the article?

Posted by: Mike E at Jul 18, 2013 12:11:47 PM

I found that everything Dean Gray has reported on to be true. I guess he should invest in spell checking though. Ultimately it's what the consultant said that's more telling here. BTW I found it interesting that Imperial Beach will be paying their new city manager only $175,000.00 base pay while ther economic base is far better than ours.

Posted by: Chris at Jul 18, 2013 10:17:36 AM

The same thing I would say about any Desert Vortex article. It's written by Dean Gray, so it's impossible to determine its reliability. The spelling errors alone suggest a lack of attention to detail.

Posted by: Ron's Log at Jul 17, 2013 2:45:48 PM

Sad but interesting. http://www.desertvortex.com/2013/07/17/finance-committee-discusses-state-city-finances-transcript-meeting/comment-page-1/#comment-607
What say you Ron to this article?

Posted by: Chris at Jul 17, 2013 1:27:01 PM

Doesn't anyone see the humor in the fact that this job that Rick may get is only because two recently elected Commissioners demanded the resignation of the County Administrator. The article doesn't say the majority of but only two. Seems like something that's going on here in DHS only if Adam and Russ were to do this they would be called bullies.

Posted by: Chris at Jul 15, 2013 10:33:45 AM

Hi Ron,
First, sorry about the all caps. Shouldn't post when getting ready for bed.

Second, my problems with Rick started before Carl May, they just came to a head then. I kept asking questions which should have been asked much sooner, and which the city didn't have answers for. They still seem to operate that way - when in doubt, go ahead, and we will work it out along the way, no matter what the cost. Or, let's get a consultant, preferable a very expensive one, to tell us the most costly way to implement an idea, and then change that to a more expensive way when we go to implement it...

My favorite is what they did on the Carl May - let's award the contract, and then redesign and respecify until we get something we can afford, while the contractor figures out how to maximize his profits. You see a nicely remodeled Carl May, I see a down sized idea that should have cost about 33% less. You see a beautiful health and wellness center, I see a white elephant that the city can't afford to operate as it should. You see a video surveillance system all around the city, I see a gold plated system that cost again 33% more than it should have, and we never hear of any useful actions out of.

Posted by: Charlie E at Jul 15, 2013 6:24:08 AM

Charlie E, it really helps to clarify your point when you type in all caps. Please do more of that. Makes all the difference.

You are correct that the City Council does not negotiate directly (except in rare circumstances). City staff does present the council with bids and proposals that have gone through whatever legal process is required. We've seen the council accept, reject, and ask for a revised deal. They usually approve that which is presented by staff because, after all, the City Manager works for them and knows what their goals are. This is how a city manager system of government works.

If a majority of the council opposed everything that the city manager presented, then either (1) the city manager should resign, or (2) the city manager should change what he's doing, or (3) the city council should fire the city manager.

And, yes, I think that since the City Council gets the final say, they get the responsibility for their decision. Do you want it differently? Do you think City Council votes should just be for show, like Queen Elizabeth approving something from Parliament?

I think your point is that the entire city council is a bunch of helpless lamebrains with no knowledge of law and we should hold Rick Daniels responsible for that...after all, he elected them didn't he? I wonder by what mechanism he keeps them under his thumb? Hypnosis? Brain implants?

You're mostly pissed off because the city staff sidelined you when they re-did Carl May and if you don't know why they did that, then you're the only one in the city who doesn't.

Posted by: Ron's Log at Jul 14, 2013 10:54:39 PM

Ok, so, you feel that, since the council has the approval authority to say yea, or nay, then they have the responsibility. I, on the other hand, have seen that the council can ONLY DEAL WITH SOMETHING THAT COMES BEFORE THEM!!!!!!

If Rick does a deal, or passes on a deal, or negotiates a deal, then the council has two choices: Accept whatever deal he has negotiated, or give it BACK TO RICK and have him re-negotiate. The COUNCIL DOES NOT NEGOTIATE DIRECTLY!!!!!!!!!!

So, combine these FACTS with the simple truth that a majority of the council support Rick in anything he does, and you get the mess we are presently in. If he thinks that some con man can give us a music festival, we give him money. If he thinks that the jewish temple is a good buy, we buy it. If he feels that we should buy or do something for twice the going rate, or only deal with companies that will cost the city an extra 20-50% in costs, that is who they will deal with.

Sorry, but this is just the way it is.

Posted by: Charlie E at Jul 14, 2013 10:34:51 PM

Doug is, I'm afraid, over-optimistic. The whiners in this town have never let any fact slow them down.

Posted by: Ron's Log at Jul 14, 2013 3:54:08 PM

Hmmm, seems that the facts are pretty clear and have made it difficult for the whiners to continue their bashing. Well done Ron.

Posted by: Doug at Jul 14, 2013 2:16:17 PM

When I used the word "set" I meant the same as "approved." I certainly wasn't claiming the City Council writes the budget. But the city council gets final say on the budget. My point being that the major criticisms that some direct at the City Manager should actually be directed at City Council. The City Manager is responsible for errors and successes of the city staff. The City Council is responsible for the things they have approved: money for Tony Clarke, purchase prices for RDA properties, whether reserves are used to fund the city.

If you prefer the Admiral/Captain terminology to my Captain/First Mate terminology, fine. I don't see any difference. One sets policy and makes final decisions, the other one carries it out.

The stint in rehab that Charlie E refers to was in 2010. I takes a double load of twisted thinking to imagine that Rick Daniels went into rehab in 2010 as part of an extended plot to leave his position in 2013.

The "golden parachutes" Charlie E refers to were ALL approved by the City Council. They were negotiated between the former employees' attorneys and the City Council through our city attorney. The alternative was to go into court...which also would have been a City Council decision. Rick Daniels hasn't handed out any "golden parachutes."

Rick Daniels contract is up at the end of this year. He doesn't need to cook up some complex scheme to leave. If he and the City Council simply do nothing, then his job ends and we have no City Manager.

If you recall the details of the City Manager contract, the only way the City Manager would get any sort of severance pay would be if the City Council were so foolish as to fire him "without cause."

The Urban Futures (Michael Busch) report on the city's financial situation is here. The word "bankruptcy" appears in it only in connection with our past bankruptcy; not in any description of our near future. The report also does not put blame for the city's financial situation on the City Manager.

Unlike the bankruptcy situation in 2001, where DHS experienced a one-time shock to its budget by the loss of a law suit, the financial situation in 2013 is a systemic, structural problem. Revenues are simply not sufficient to cover the cost of the services being provided. City management and city residents have both made public safety the top priority in the city, having approved ballot measures to allocate additional resources to the Police Department. Other services have been cut by some 70% to support the emphasis on public safety. Clearly, reductions to the expenditure side of the budget are not going to produce the level of savings that would be needed to balance the budget nor effectively address the long-term structural needs of the operating budget for the City.

DHS has been working diligently to manage its operations through an unprecedented decrease in revenues while experiencing cost increases. As a comparison might note, DHS entered this challenge with a distinct disadvantage in that it has lower levels of discretionary revenue and the resultant lower levels of operational expenditures than other similar cities. Nevertheless the City has taken steps to reduce costs over the last several years because it has been forced to do so by declining revenues. In this effort, employee associations have been forthcoming with some compensation changes, yet costs continue to be much more than can be afforded by the City. The revenue forecast shows that significantly lower costs will be required for the foreseeable future.

The "systemic, structural problem" is that the city has a weak tax base (low property values, low retail sales) while simultaneously wanting and needing a good police force which can't be done cheap, especially in California, while also doing everything else that a city is supposed to do.

The report recommends that "revenue augmentation should also be on the table." "Revenue augmentation" includes increased fees and fines as well as taxes. I'm all for a real tax increase to support the city, but the City Council, I think, shies away from that. The key to keeping the city financially viable is whether the city could put together a tax proposal that would get enough support to be approved by the voters. Personnel changes make that a more challenging project. How much information and momentum has been lost by the departure of two finance administrators in less than 18 months?

P.S. When I say "City Council," I mean all five people on the City Council. Nobody up there gets to escape blame (or praise) by saying "I voted 'no'." All five continuously bear the responsibility of keeping the city successful. Nobody gets a free ride by voting no. "No" should mean that the councilmember will come back with a better idea that will have the support of the majority. Failure to do so is just failure.

Posted by: Ron's Log at Jul 14, 2013 11:46:01 AM

dealing with Betts and Sanchez on a regular basis would be enough to make me seek employment elsewhere. Best of luck to Daniels in his future endeavors.

Posted by: Jason Moreland at Jul 14, 2013 10:14:47 AM

Please get real. The council does not write the budget, they approve the budget. The actual budget, and the actual negotiations with unions and such is done by the city manager. The situation is more like that Rick is the captain, while the council is more like the admiral's staff back at headquarters. They get to direct things, and approve things, but are not ALLOWED to do the day to day management of activities, especially under Rick Daniels.

It is obvious that Rick has been planning his escape for months now, with all the smoke screens of his 'abuse' and 'bullying' complaints, his stint in rehab, and the golden parachutes he has handed out to former henchmen. He hasn't really cared about dealing with a reasonable budget, because he has known that he will not be here to face the consequences. If he can't get fired with a big settlement, then he will just pick up his marbles and go find a new game...

Posted by: Charlie E at Jul 14, 2013 2:01:26 AM

Chris, I've read Michael Busch's report. Give me that page number where he says the city is "on the brink of bankruptcy." You may not be aware that it's the City Council that sets the budget, not the City Manager. The City Manager then has to somehow spend less than the budget while meeting every goal set by the council.

Posted by: Ron's Log at Jul 13, 2013 7:31:39 PM

Ron I guess you haven't been listening to city financial consultant Michael Bush. Thius city is on the brink of bankruptcy due to this city manager. Not a point of arguement a point of fact. I choose to listen Michael Bush the expert that was hired by the city.

Posted by: Chris at Jul 13, 2013 7:24:14 PM

It's really not hard at all to imagine a better candidate for the job than Rick Daniels. Name anyone. The city is now kept hostage under the control of three people with a a proven lack of leadership who choose to be that Greek Chorus observing the inevitable doom. Likely they laugh at this tragedy of their own making. As the city sinks due to bad decisions, Rick Daniels simply moves on to another poor rural community to take advantage of an opportunity to avoid the consequences of his actions. That's one hell of a smart move with better results than being fired after the city council election coming in November.

Posted by: Steve Tobaski at Jul 13, 2013 6:42:07 PM

Nick has been listening to Adam Sanchez, which will almost always lead you wrong. The "Captain" in a city is the City Council. The City Manager is "first mate" or whoever it is who takes the orders of the captain and sees they are carried out. (Navy veterans help me out here.) There are some who think the role of the City Council is to be the Greek Chorus, crying out woe and doom, while merely observing.

Posted by: Ron's Log at Jul 13, 2013 10:56:36 AM

I cannot believe this,he is going to leave just in time to see the city sink into bankruptcy,i thought that the captain goes down with the ship
but alas the today the captain gets into the lifeboat first,where did i see that before.......

Posted by: nick at Jul 13, 2013 10:50:22 AM

While it's hard to imagine a better candidate for the job than Rick Daniels, those other two might be Supermen (or women?).

Posted by: Ron's Log at Jul 13, 2013 10:02:46 AM

Geez, he will probably get it which will be a huge loss for DHS.

Posted by: Doug at Jul 13, 2013 8:08:22 AM

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