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.