Bob Deis, who resigned as Sonoma County’s top administrator in 2009 because he could not work with a fractured Board of Supervisors, has quit another job.
Deis announced Wednesday that he will resign as city manager in Stockton in March, two years before his five-year contract ends.
His 20-month tenure has been rocky, marked by painful cuts imposed on city employees, fights with city unions and a near-complete turnover of city department heads, according to a report published Wednesday in The Stockton Record.
Deis said the reasons for his departure are personal, but he did say his work had been affecting his home life, and that his family’s privacy had been threatened.
“I think any time when the work comes home and impacts people that live in a home, it’s difficult,” he said. “I just decided in talking with my wife and talking with people in the community that it was time.”
Eight days earlier, a divided Stockton City Council rejected Deis’ proposal to raise the salary of Police Chief Blair Ulring to offset other cuts and protect his retirement.
Ulring also resigned Wednesday.
Stockton Mayor Ann Johnston told The Record she was disappointed that Deis would not be staying longer.
Johnston said she believed the severity of Stockton’s troubles had taken their toll on Deis.
“It becomes overwhelming,” she said. “It’s more than one man, even five, can handle.”
Johnston said Deis had also been targeted for harassment at home, citing the purchase by the Stockton Police Officers Association of the house next door to Deis.
“He’s had a really difficult time in a difficult time,” she said.
Deis said Stockton’s financial problems are worse than anyone could have anticipated, but that’s not why he’s leaving.
“Throughout my career, I have had the opportunity to take on a lot of challenges,” he said. “It has never slowed me down.”
Deis believed the Stockton Police Officer’s Association was trying to intimidate him by purchasing the home next door and starting a noisy remodeling project, Stockton Record columnist Michael Fitzgerald reported. The city has taken the SPOA to court to force them to sell the house.
The union’s tactic jangled his wife and made Deis second-guess coming to Stockton, Fitzgerald wrote. Deis told him:
“The hardest is when my wife asks me, ‘Why are you doing this? What are you getting out of it?’”
He added, “As the wife goes, so goes my happiness, up or down.”
The Aug. 9 vote to reject Ulring’s contract was the first time the council had turned down one of Deis’ recommendations. But Deis said the council’s decision was not the reason for his resignation, The Record reported.
“It’s not the reason why I’m retiring,” he said. “I think it would be inaccurate and unfair to point to a specific item and say that’s the reason why I’m retiring.”
Asked whether it was a reason, Deis said, “I’m not going to second-guess individual decisions made by councilmembers.”
Deis will remain through mid-March while the city finds a replacement. He told The Record he has not decided yet whether he will continue to work in government service.
– Ted Appel
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