NEWPORT BEACH : 11-Year City Worker Pleads to Keep Job

A budget meeting turned emotional this week when an 11-year city employee urged council members not to eliminate his job.

"I've got a lot riding on this," pleaded Frank Clarke, 49, the city's purchasing manager. "I've got a personal stake in this."

Clarke, who lives in Huntington Beach, told the seven-member council that he had overseen $100 million worth of purchasing since he began working for the city and likened the training of a purchasing manager to that of an attorney, engineer or medical doctor.

He said it was not worth the savings to cut his $58,000-a-year job and replace him through reorganization and the hiring of a $31,000-a-year purchasing clerk.

"In tight economic times, you'd want a trained, dedicated individual handling those funds," he said. "That's my whole function, day and night, is to get the most value for your dollars."

According to preliminary budget plans, Newport Beach will slash 48 jobs this summer. Many jobs will be eliminated through attrition, but some employees--including Clarke--are scheduled for layoffs.

At Monday afternoon's meeting, Mayor Clarence J. Turner cut Clarke's presentation short and asked him to submit his arguments in writing.

"There's pain on both sides of this dais," Turner said. "We are all wrestling with a lot of things we wish we weren't wrestling with."

Earlier in the session--the first of several special council meetings planned this month to review the $70-million budget--Councilman Phil Sansone complained about the planned elimination of the mayor's secretary.

Sansone, who served as mayor for the two years before Turner, said he doubted that the secretaries for the city clerk, city manager and deputy city manager would pick up the slack of answering phones and, especially, coordinating the program of City Hall volunteers as planned. He accused city staff members of eliminating the secretary post because of "personal animosity" and asked that the cut be reviewed more closely.

City Manager Kevin J. Murphy denied that the layoffs were inspired by personality conflicts.

"We are removing 48 full-time positions--this is the one that's closest to the council--but it's not going to be easy to get rid of the other 47 either," Murphy said. "We think it's important to demonstrate (that) the top of the organization (will) absorb some of those cuts."

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World