Seal Beach can't agree on hiring agency to help find interim director of community development

The Seal Beach City Council couldn't agree this week on whether to hire an agency to help assess candidates for the interim role of community development director to fill in for Jim Basham, who is on paid administrative leave.

On a 2-2 vote Monday, new council members Schelly Sustarsic and Thomas Moore opposed a staff recommendation to employ Newport Beach-based AndersonPenna Partners for $133,300 to help vet candidates for the job.

Council woman Ellery Deaton was absent.

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Basham is the second city employee to be placed on paid administrative leave in the past few months. In October, Police Chief Joe Stilinovich was placed on leave, pending results of a confidential personnel investigation. Findings of that investigation have not been released.

Assistant City Manager Patrick Gallegos said Tuesday that he didn't have a timeline for the investigation of Basham, which he declined to elaborate on. Basham was hired in 2013 at a monthly salary of $13,282, including benefits.

"I see us paying twice as much for the same position," said Moore, referring to the search for an interim hire and possibly a permanent one. "From a fiscal and responsible employment standpoint, I first ask staff to resolve the current situation and then search for a long-term solution."

City staff said they recommended Anderson Penna Partners because it has a successful record of working with Seal Beach on past projects. The agency recently recommended Steve Myrter from Signal Hill to become Seal Beach's newest public works director.

Mayor Sandra Massa-Lavitt urged the council to reach a reasonable solution and approve the hire, since not doing so would "grossly underserve the community."

Resident Robert Goldberg urged the council to terminate Basham, claiming that he has repeatedly failed to provide the public with critical information, like the recent problems with the West End Pump Station.  

The next Seal Beach Council meeting is scheduled for Feb. 27.

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