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Santa Rosa hires assistant city manager



Santa Rosa has hired an official from Orange County to be its new assistant city manager.

City Manager Kathy Millison announced that she had selected Jennifer Phillips to fill the the job created after deputy city manager Greg Scoles left last year to become city manager of Belmont.

Phillips currently is a special projects manager in Orange County leading an initiative to provide child care services to county employees, Millison said in a release. She has held that position for four months.

Millison called Phillips a “forward leading individual” who will bring “a spirit of enthusiasm to the executive team that I believe will prove contagious and serve to inspire others.”

Phillips’ salary will be $159,600, according to Human Resources Director Fran Elm, who said the contract had yet to be signed. Additional terms include 31 hours of unpaid furlough, three weeks of vacation, two weeks of administrative leave and $8,000 in moving expenses, Elm said.

The salary range for the job is $135,360 to $169,320 per year, about 12 percent lower than the deputy city manager post, which is being eliminated.

Prior to her position in Orange County, Phillips was the assistant city manager for Santa Monica. She abruptly resigned that post after 18 months in July of 2011, according to press accounts. Prior to that, she oversaw Orange County’s animal shelter for four years.

Millison said Phillips was hired by a city manager in Santa Monica who then retired, and the new city manager “started making changes.”

“She’s been sort of in transition for a while,” Millison said.

Pat Thompson, retired Napa city manager, had been in the post on an interim basis since October.

13 Responses to “Santa Rosa hires assistant city manager”

  1. Grey Whitmore says:

    Once again Kevin McCallum only tells part of the story.

    People, you need to question the PD just as much as you question the actions of the City of Santa Rosa and its employees.

    Here is the press release put out by City Manager Kathy Millison.

    A quote from the press release:

    “Ms. Phillips joins the City of Santa Rosa executive management team bringing more than 20 years of experience in city, county, and regional government operations and management.”

    Why does McCallum not mention this information?

    Another quote:

    “She also served as Assistant City Manager for the City of Santa Monica with direct reports from Public Works, Solid Waste, Building & Safety, and Planning & Community Development where she led organizational and operations improvements for best management practices, implemented leading environmental and sustainability programs, and coordinated local, regional, and international convention and tourism support.”

    Why is this not mentioned?

    The Press Democrat has an agenda just like the rest of business. You must question it! You must look to find the full information before passing judgment on poor fact reporting.

    The press release can be found here:


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  2. Jack says:

    To all the people who have an issue with her being described as “forward leading” – would you rather her described as backwards, regressive, stuck in the past, unwilling to accept new/modern ideas, etc, etc. Pick your battles.

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  3. Jon Bixler says:

    Thanks, bear… nailed it.

    How’s ’bout we give Ms. Phillips some time to settle in before castigating her.

    The amount of unwarranted cynicism on this forum is sometimes a bit overwhelming.

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  4. Joe says:

    With her experience wouldn’t you think she should have start at the low end of the salary range????? Also could have saved $8k by hiring someone local! Good grief, when are they going to learn! Now we can start cutting some of these top heavy positions.

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  5. Mike says:

    In the financial state Santa Rosa finds itself, one would think the city manager would find someone with a financial background or budget backgroud or business background to fill the Assistant City Manager position.

    Who is hired, someone with a social worker/animal control background who is “forward leading.” Is that a code for “progressive”?

    Reconfirms, the city government in Santa Rosa continue to muddle on, but not well.

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  6. Steveguy says:

    In this slow time, can’t the city manager’s office do the work ?

    Like the building department, there is NO work !! Do they just play video games all day ? What do they do now that hardly any work is being done and every project gets extra scrutiny.

    What do we have to do to get the attention of City Hall ? Burn it down ?

    I don’t know, but they never listen to common sense.

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  7. bear says:

    I concede that this person seems overcompensated and inexperienced for this position. Any degrees? Any other experience? Even non-management, senior staff positions can be valuable, since they do most of the heavy lifting.

    Incomplete reporting?

    Guess you could argue that the position is unecessary. But it’s there because bad things can happen – same reason we have a VP of the US. You want somebody who can step right in.

    I wouldn’t necessarily hold her brief term with Santa Monica against her. Chief Executives everywhere want “their own person” as their #2 – just like in the private sector. Change at the top means change down the line, whether or not it is deserved. Just like in the private sector.

    Why not hire locally? Because no one in their right mind who knows the rancid state of local politics and budgets would take the job.

    Yeah, you could cut the salary down to 100K, but then you’d have a manager making less than many employees. Not good. You could cut all salaries, but if you did the people involved would go somewhere with a better balance between salaries and cost of living. It’s like brain surgery – do you really want the job to go to the lowest bidder?

    Or we could outsource the job to India?

    Let’s try not to forget that we’re in a situation of temporary revenue loss due to a (hopefully) temporary downturn in the economy. The current crisis didn’t exist a few years ago, before tax cutting and corporate fraud.

    Where are those darn jobs for everyone that were supposed to be created?

    Guess you don’t want to know that Sonoma County has had child care for employees for something like 20 years. It’s right there in the County Center. Employees pay for it. Cuts down on traffic and absences due to childcare issues. And by all accounts makes for happier kids.

    What would you propose instead?

    Of course, we could go back to the days when one salary supported a family, but that would require higher salaries, especially in expensive Sonoma County. You really can’t have it both ways.

    Can’t we all just take a deep breath and ride out the bad economy?

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  8. Reality Check says:

    Well, it’s early, too early, to pass judgment, but one has to wonder. Her signature achievement was the addition of another benefit for public employees.

    Doesn’t that look a little out of step with the temper of the times, not mention the city budget? One would think we’d look for someone with a record as budget cutter, expert at efficiency, etc.

    And last there’s the line, she’s “a forward leading individual,” which is almost always a giveaway. Hope I’m wrong.

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  9. Steele says:

    This is why the City is broke. It’s own leadership can’t contain themselves from the orgy of overspending.

    The city Manager should be fired.

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  10. Just a thought says:

    Currently the new Asst. Manager is a “Child Care Services Provider”, before that she “oversaw an animal shelter”, her one stint as a manager over a municipal government lasted 18 months because she didn’t like “changes”.

    The City of Santa Rosa has had an atmosphere of nothing but “change” over the last several years.

    I’m wondering if her credentials mean that city management views the workers as “children” and/or “animals”.

    Just a thought

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  11. Dave Madigan says:

    How can the City afford such a nice compensation package when the City can’t afford to keep all the Fire Stations open at the same time?

    Perhaps this would be the perfect time to limit all new City salaraies to $100,000 and that’s it.

    The taxpayers have to endure cuts to city services. Shouldn’t the City start cutting these sort of pay packages?

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  12. The Hammer says:

    Wouldn’t it be nice to hire locally.

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  13. Hussein says:

    Why not someone local.
    Does “forward leading” =another progressive nut?

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