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Official Who Quit May Get Deal With City

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A former assistant city manager for human services who resigned after a year of grappling with dissatisfied City Council members has apparently landed a lucrative city contract to analyze U.S. Census data.

Less than a week after Assistant City Manager Callie Struggs left her job, City Manager Philip Hawkey revealed that he may hire her as a consultant at more than $20,000 over an unspecified period.

Under the proposed contract, Struggs will help the city develop “a better understanding of the constituencies that need to be served,” Hawkey said Tuesday. “We need someone to help us target, focus, prioritize.” Hawkey added that, because of Struggs’ work developing community profiles, she is suited for the job.

“Any other candidate would require start-up time,” Hawkey said.

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City Councilman Chris Holden, who objected to rehiring Struggs, charged Tuesday that Hawkey had “cut a deal” to get rid of an employee who had developed a reputation as being abrasive and abrupt, while “giving him an opportunity to go out and hire somebody else.”

Struggs, who left her job Friday, had complained that Hawkey and the City Council had not given her sufficient direction in developing the city’s human services program. But council members charged that she had failed to show vision and leadership.

The new contract, which Hawkey expects to approve this week, “sends a terrible signal,” Holden said.

“If you’re talking about putting census numbers together, I think we’re spending an awful lot of money for something an intern could do,” Holden said. Struggs could not be reached for comment.

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Because the contract involves less than $25,000, Hawkey does not need council approval. Hawkey said he had not seen the contract, which is being drawn up by his staff, but said that it will pay between $20,000 and $25,000.

“It’s not exactly a gigantic contract,” Hawkey said. “It’s a modest amount to do a very important analysis.”

Other council members defended the plan to hire Struggs. “If the work she’s doing is legitimate work that needs to be done, I don’t know why anyone would have a problem with it,” Councilman Rick Cole said. He said the choice of Struggs seemed logical because of her background in community analysis.

Mayor Jess Hughston said he was not opposed to hiring Struggs. “But I want to know if the subject matter of the job fits within the purview of her expertise,” he said.

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