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Central Basin Will Hire City Manager from Palos Verdes Estates to be GM

Elaine Jeng

By Brian Hews

After placing Central Basin General Manager Alex Rojas on paid administrative leave a few weeks ago “pending an investigation into Rojas’ role in the hiring of a company linked to a bribery scandal at his previous job,” the Central Basin Board, consisting of President Michael Gualtieri, VP Juan Garza, who was appointed not elected, and Directors Leticia Vasquez-Wilson and Martha Camacho Rodriguez, will move to hire a new GM, paying an additional $265,000 in salary and thousands in benefits at its next board meeting.

The new hire is Elaine Jeng, the current City Manager at Palos Verdes Estates, who was hired by the city only eight months ago.

The CB Board followed Brown Act rules but was hardly transparent in their hiring of Jeng, advertising the position for only one week and then interviewing candidates in closed session, with each candidate given only twenty minutes to interview.

The CB Board then decided on Jeng and handed her a plum agreement that included 15 days vacation, sick leave, personal days and a $400 monthly car allowance

A press release from the city of Palos Verdes Estates in 2023 stated, “Ms. Jeng has served as the City Manager of the City of Rolling Hills since 2018….Ms. Jeng holds a BS in civil and environmental engineering from UCLA and is also a certified Professional Engineer.”

Ms. Jeng stated at the time, “I am excited to embark on this new journey as the City Manager of Palos Verdes Estates; I am eager to collaborate with engaged residents, dedicated city staff, and results-oriented elected officials to advance the city’s aspirations and targets. I want to thank the City Council for entrusting me with this important role. Together, I hope we can bolster public trust, and serve the community to meet its needs.”

With the hiring, CB ratepayers will be paying two salaries, one to Rojas and the other to Jeng which, according the agenda, “is unbudgeted and will come from surplus funds.”

And with the hiring, the CB Board officially made the reason for firing Rojas trumped-up.