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Hawaiian Gardens Council Renews City Administrator’s Contract

By Jerry Bernstein

The Hawaiian Gardens city council unanimously renewed their contract with City Administrator Ernesto Marquez for three years. The contract opens the door to a future revision of the position of City Administrator to City Manager.
The contract, becomes effective on July 25 and adjusts the annual base salary from $169,941 to $168,000, increases vacation and leave from 18-21 hours per month to 20 and 80 hours per fiscal year to 100. The city also agrees to pay 100 percent tuition and cost fees if the City Admistrator decides to complete a Graduate Degree program in Public Administration.
City Attorney Omar Sandoval said although the present contract stipulates Marquez is entitled to the benefits afforded other city employees; the new agreement stipulates he will also be subject to benefit decreases in the event they decrease to other city employees.
He said the contract may be terminated or canceled at any time by the City or by the Administrator, for any reason or for no reason at all, and may be terminated completely without cause. It also stipulates the Administrator shall not be removed from office during or within a period of 90 days following a municipal election. He said the purpose is to allow newly elected council members to observe the actions and ability of the Administrator’s performance. If he is terminated within the 90-day period he/she shall be paid for that period and the remaining 90 days from the election regardless of whatever time remains on the term of employment.
The contract calls for the city to pay directly to the Public Employees Retirement System all payments needed to satisfy the administrator’s contribution to CalPERS. The council also renewed the city’s contract with Howard & Associates to provide human resources and labor negotiation services. The city’s current contract expires June 30. At the same time it named Howard Caldwell acting city administrator when the city administrator is absent. Caldwell receives a flat fee retainer of $4,600 per month. In the event he is asked to serve as acting administrator, he will receive additional compensation of $400 per day covering the City Administrator’s office.
AFFCME Union Representative Pete Schinaufer told the council he was disappointed in the council’s naming Howard Caldwell to be acting city administrator when the city administrator is out of town. In the past the council would name department heads to fill the temporary position, giving them experience that would benefit their current position.
One union member commented to the LCCN after the council meeting Caldwell would receive $400 per day compared to the department heads that were paid their regular salaries.
In other business the council approved the painting of red curbs at the intersections of 221st Street and Arline Avenue, 223rd Street and Horst Avenue, and the Northeast corner of 228 Street. and Arline Avenue.
The council also approved a one-year agreement for Helicopter patrol services by and between the city and the Lakewood-Sky Knight Patrol. Councilmember Barry Bruce said right now a deputy in the field could call the helicopter to a site. He would like him to receive approval from a superior instead of call direct. The council agreed with the city administrator saying he would follow trough on the suggestion.

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