City manager gets compensation, and criticism from council

Barbara Diamond

Critics raked City Manager Ken Frank over the coals Tuesday, but a

City Council majority gave him a vote of confidence -- and a pay



The council voted 4-1 to bring Frank’s salary nearer to parity

with city managers of comparable communities and to tailor a benefit

package to suit his needs. State law required changes in compensation

to be decided in a public hearing.


Mayor Wayne Baglin opposed the increase and the inclusion of Frank

in discussions conducted by a council sub-committee appointed to

examine his contract and compensation.

“He has worked for the city for 23 years and that long in a job

leads to performance obsolescence,” Baglin said.

But councilman Steven Dicterow made it clear that it’s no secret

that Baglin thinks its past time for Frank to move on.

“Wayne’s comments are a thinly veiled statement that he wants to


get rid of (Frank),” Dicterow said. “We are trying reward Ken for 23

years of loyalty. He has had other opportunities.”

Baglin said Thursday that Frank had told the council recently that

he was applying for a job in another community. That may have

triggered the council action, but it was not discussed at the


Dicterow and Councilwoman Cheryl Kinsman were appointed by the

council to review Frank’s compensation. They researched the


compensation paid other Orange County city managers and came to the

conclusion that Frank was underpaid for the work he does.

“He is the lowest paid by a substantial amount of any comparable

city manager,” Kinsman said.

The subcommittee recommended a catch-up adjustment of 6.4%, which

still leaves Frank’s salary approximately $1,000 below the salary

paid city managers of cities they deemed comparable.

Laguna Beach Taxpayers Assn. President Gary Alstot said he agreed

with the mayor.

“I didn’t see anything about measuring performance (in the

subcommittee recommendations) or how other cities measure

performance,” Alstot said.

By law, the council must evaluate the city manager’s performance

in closed session, but that doesn’t apply to the public.

Frank could have used a flack jacket Tuesday.

“The perception is that this man is a Machiavellian puppet

master,” said Roger von Butow.

Kimberly Leeds said that Frank did not keep the council fully


“My mother has run for council nine times,” said Clay Leeds, son

of Beth Leeds.

“She has never won, but in every race I heard candidates say they

would get rid of Ken Frank when they got in office. He’s still here.”

“His institutional memory is extremely important,” said

Councilwoman Toni Iseman. “He pulls from his memory things we need to

know -- just watch us swivel our heads and look to him for answers

during a discussion. I think in a month he probably saves us his


Councilman Paul Freeman said that Frank has earned his respect as

well as the respect of fellow city managers.

“In my real job, I interact with other city managers.” Freeman

said. “We are lucky to have him. His work ethic hasn’t changed and I

don’t think his performance has deteriorated. In fact, I think it has

improved while I have been on the council.”

“If the community doesn’t like the way the city is going, there is

this thing called an election.”

Bottom line: A bigger paycheck for Frank and changes to his

contract that will provide him with severance pay at the rate of two

weeks salary for every full year he is employed, through Oct. 1,

2007, none after that; and annual cost-of-living adjustments equal to

those negotiated by the Municipal Employees Assn.