We are starting to receive snippets of information and chisme regarding who the Santa Ana council is looking to hire as our next City Manager, since apparently the current City Manager, Raul Godinez, has in effect resigned after offering the city a separation agreement. He was a friend of former City Councilmembers Michele Martinez and Sal Tinajero and they led the charge to overpay him. It is going to cost a small fortune to settle with him now.
Mayor Pulido, at the time that Godinez was hired, was pushing to hire Kristine Ridge, who used to work for the City of Anaheim, as their Assistant City Manager.
Now it appears that Pulido is pushing for Ridge again. Ridge was supposed to be next in line to be the City Manager of Anaheim but a split City Council sent her packing.
Would she come on a split package and try for a year, in Santa Ana, like Godinez? You see if a City employee gets one year at a high salary that salary will be used to calculate their future pension benefits. So often these volatile positions are attractive because of their salary not their longevity.
Ridge is a City Manager for the City of Laguna Niguel now – we hope she and her local Sheriff’s Deputies are not sending their homeless to us!
Some around town, in Santa Ana, are wondering if she might be willing to leave her current post, as the best she could hope for is a 4-3 vote.
Some of the City Council Members appear to be concerned that Ridge is apparently very friendly with Jill Wallace (aka Jill Arthur), who used to work at Santa Ana’s City Hall as Pulido’s Assistant. There are allegations that Wallace wants to influence the situation in Santa Ana.
Wallace remains very close with Pulido andis his closest confidant. But she freaks people out some folks at City Hall, for whatever reason.
Since Ridge is a City Manager already in South Orange County, don’t be surprised if she wants a salary package in Santa Ana that compares to previous City Manager David Cavazos’ $500,000+ salary. In fact the word is that she has already made a very high salary request.
Would the Santa Ana City Council, which still appears to lack a solid majority, want to hire a new City Manager without a transparent process, when she was already passed over in Anaheim?
Remember the last time the City engaged in a rushed city manager hiring process they ended up with a hot mess, namely Cavazos.
The current City Council is split and some of them, starting with Council Member Jose Solorio, want to have the City Council consider people both from outside and inside City Hall.
Solorio supported Ridge the last time around, but he commented on our last post about this and said that Santa Ana needs to focus on a fair process to consider who the next acting or interim City Manager might be.
Solorio, and Council Members Vince Sarmiento, Roman Reyna and David Penaloza met last week in a closed session meeting and who knows what direction they gave to city staff?
Solorio also said that this all, including the City Manager’s separation agreement, will be on the upcoming January 18th City Council meeting agenda.
Inside choices to replace Godniez may include Steven Mendoza, who is the acting City Manager, while Godinez is still on “vacation.” Some Council Members are apparently pushing for Fuad Sweiss, who is the current Santa Ana Public Works Director. Sweiss is credited with getting the city’s newest emergency homeless shelter , The Link, built in a record 28 days.
Sweiss is already on the City payroll, so hiring him as the interim city manager would save the city some money. He previously worked for the city of San Francisco, so who knows what his politics might be? But now that we have a new Governor who hails from San Francisco, Gavin Newsom, Sweiss’ background in the Bay Area could be a plus. In fact we hear that Sweiss is very friendly with Newsom.
No question Pulido will be working to get support for Ridge up until the closing bell. But will he be able to get four votes on the City Council for Ridge?
To be continued…