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Rohnert Park to hire another interim city manager

John Dunn


A retired city manager from San Luis Obispo is likely to be named Rohnert Park’s interim city manager tonight, stepping into what has become somewhat of a revolving door position at the head of a city with severe budget problems.

Should the Rohnert Park council approve his contract at its regular meeting tonight, John Dunn — who also ran city governments in Monterey and Sunnyvale — will be hired as a consultant for one year, Mayor Pam Stafford said.

“The economy and the budget issues are the biggest things we have to deal with as far as I’m concerned,” she said. “He understands the issues that we have and he seems to have the right temperament to deal with them.”

Dunn, who retired in 2000 as San Luis Obispo’s top government official, would be paid $15,900 a month, plus $2,000 a month for housing and a car allowance, according to a copy of the consultant agreement. The housing allowance, of $1,500, would be included only if Dunn lived in Rohnert Park.

His contract would contain a guarantee of six months salary, the agreement said.

Dunn could not be reached for comment.

“He’s a terrific guy. He’ll be, I think, an outstanding interim manager,” said John Ashbaugh, a San Luis Obispo councilman. “John’s very much a professional. He’s calm, level headed and well organized.”

Dunn is originally from Clinton, Mo., according to his biography on the website of San Luis Obispo’s Foundation for the Performing Arts Center, where he is president of the board of directors.

He was assistant city manager of Sunnyvale from 1961 to 1965. In Monterey, he served as assistant city manager from 1967 to 1978 and city manager from 1978 to 1987. He was San Luis Obispo’s chief administrative office from 1987 to 2000, when he retired.

In Rohnert Park Dunn would become the city’s fifth top administrator in five years. The position is currently filled by Darrin Jenkins, the city’s engineer and development services director. He was named acting city manager in April after the former interim city manager, Dan Schwarz, left for Larkspur.

Schwarz, who had been assistant city manager since 2006, was named interim city manager in October 2008. He stepped into the shoes of Steve Donley, who left for active duty with the Coast Guard.

Dunn would join the city at a time when it is facing a steep budget deficit, projected to be about $6 million in the fiscal year that begins in July. The city has been sawing at its $26.5 million budget — it’s cut 27 workers in the past nine months — and officials are now campaigning for a half-cent sales tax measure on the June ballot.

13 Responses to “Rohnert Park to hire another interim city manager”

  1. chuck becker says:

    I have to agree with all who voice outrage at this arrangement. First, city manager is not comparable to being CEO of a comparably sized company. A city manager doesn’t have to be successful at a whole huge range of issues that the CEO does.

    Second, this is a ridiculous ratio between salary and budget responsibility. I never defend the federal government, but I can tell you this: in the federal government, a manager with execution responsibility for a $1.5B annual budget would typically be paid $12K month. There will never be responsibility in government until those at the very comfortable top of the tower begin to take each other to task.

    If Rohnert Park continues to struggle, they will be able to look back upon this for understanding of what went wrong.

    Chuck Becker

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  2. sam zuech says:

    What is this guy on drugs? Who in their right mind would want to have any thing to do with the government in RP? He better have gotten the approval of the corrupt police union otherwise his tenure will be very short. RP is a city headed for bankruptcy so if I were him I would want to be paid in gold nuggets.
    A check from the city would probably bounce.

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  3. Tom Lynch says:

    Lisa, ironically your $24,000 per month is low if the retired John Dunn from San Luis Obispo County getting $8428.24/month or $101,141.28/year (http://www.californiapensionreform.com/database.asp) is one and the same. Add the $18K/month with the $8K above and John is getting $317K/year.

    But that is par for the course throughout California…city manager of Santa Rosa $147K/year retirement plus $200K/year salary (…could be wrong on this one ???). Also one recently retired department head at 50 from County $100K plus…went to work at another County for $200K salary plus benefits. The list is very long.

    The PD should do a story of all the retirees coming back to work for over $300K/year retirement/salary while we cancel the entire school crossing guard program in Santa Rosa for lack of $100K.

    Tom Lynch

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  4. Lisa Maldonado says:

    Sorry my bad on the amount, but 17k a month when you just cut 27 workers is outrageous. Why do top managers and administrators think they deserve these kinds of salaries but then balk at paying decent wages for rank and file workers? This is so emblematic of our country that seems to feel that CEO’s are entitled to whatever the “free market” will bear but God forbid a teacher or a bus driver or a firefighter or cop make 70K.

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  5. RP MOM 1 says:

    No wonder the city is broke. Shame on John Dunn for even accepting this kind of salary from a City that is admitting they are near bankruptcy. And you want the residents to vote yes on E? That would be a big NO on E from me!

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  6. David says:

    The salary for a temp City Manager is outrageous but, how did $15,900 + 2,000 a month somehow become $24,000 per month?

    Government (City, Count, State, Federal) continues to spend money like it grows on trees. I fully support the Police and Firemen but full salary (or 90%) when you retire at age 50 is ridiculous and unsustainable. Continuous tax increases are not the answer to government problems. If all government entities were forced to operate like normal businesses, salary cuts ACROSS the board would be in order.

    Announcing this deal right before you try and pass a 1/2 cent tax increase is stupid and arrogant.

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  7. Mike says:

    Don’t forget this guy already makes a handsome retirement salary (at least $100 K a year if not more) from his previous job. This is the biggest scam on earth when public employees “retire” and then start the process of collecting pensions. Some of these public “servants” finally retire with three pensions and the taxpayers are all getting the shaft.

    End the madness and revolt.

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  8. Lisa Maldonado says:

    24,000 a month is not reasonable to run a small city like RP. Talk about a waste of money! That’s more than the president of the US makes. Please! If this is the correct salary (and not a typo) then I truly don’t want to hear more bitching about police and firefighters making too much. (they risk their life) This guy does not.

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  9. Chris says:

    It seems normal? Perhaps that is part of the problem. He is not the CEO of a large company. He is a retired City Manager being brought in under contract to work for a year, god only knows what his retirement package from his previous employer is like.

    Perhaps if Sonoma County cities stopped paying city administrators so much money we wouldn’t be in this kind of position.

    This is crazy.

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  10. Karla Sofen says:

    This guy left some awfully nice and beautiful cities to come to a hole like Rohnert Park. What’s wrong with this picture?

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  11. Sandy says:

    The $2000 includes the $1500 which would only be paid if he lives in RP. Since he is coming here for a temporary job, he should not be paying for two homes. So a total of $24k in expenses plus his salary. The fact is for the size of the city he is expected to run ,and problems there, this is reasonable. Top CEOs of a company with this many employees and budget would make a lot more. Hope he can turn things around.

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  12. kate says:

    Seems like a normal salary for the job as city’s top administrator. I don’t envy the task ahead of him.

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  13. lisa maldonado says:

    Is that a typo? The city is paying him 15K a month?! That’s a misprint, right? Plus 2000 a month housing and car? If this is correct, I am flabbergasted that the city continues to bitch and moan about police and fire salaries while paying a manager this much! Please tell me this is a mistake!

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