Seal Beach in the red

Councilman Gary Miller

An unexpected city deficit and the city manager’s job performance were among the issues that dominated the Monday, June 14 Seal Beach City Council meeting.

Seal Beach is looking at a $600,000 shortfall this year, Councilman Gary Miller said at the Monday, June 14 City Council meeting.

He spoke during the Council Comments segment of the meeting, when each council member an opportunity to speak briefly about city business.

Miller asked for staff to prepare a presentation on the city budget for the next council meeting. Miller said he had learned Seal Beach was looking at a $600,000 shortfall and that information contradicted what he’d been told previously. Miller was also concerned because the city would begin paying the cost of building the new fire station next year. Miller has long questioned whether the fire station on North Gate Road (previously known as Beverly Manor Road) needed to be replaced. Other council members have disagreed with him.

On Monday, June 21, Jill Ingram, the assistant to the city manager, said staff was working on a presentation that would go into the details of the deficit. Ingram said the presentation would be made to the Monday, July 12 City Council meeting.

City manager

Miller then turned to the subject of City Manager David Carmany, who was facing a job performance review in closed session that night. Carmany survived the review and is currently on vacation. He is scheduled to return on June 28.

The closed session of the City Council began before the 7 p.m. public meeting, but had to be continued to after the regular meeting. (The regular meeting lasted approximately four hours.)  Miller defended his request to review Carmany’s performance—and had sharp words for the council members who had opposed the job review.

Miller had asked for the job performance review to be put on the agenda for the June 14 meeting at a previous council meeting.

Council members Gordon Shanks, Michael Levitt and Mayor David Sloan had all opposed the performance review. Councilman Charles Antos supported it.

However, under the Rules of Conduct for the council, if a council member asks for an agenda item that item is supposed to be put on the agenda within two meetings.

Miller pointed out that if he had information concerning Carmany’s job performance, he could not simply speak to other council members about the matter outside of a council meeting. That would violate the Brown Act. He also pointed out that he could not raise issues about Carmany’s job performance in open council because personnel matters have to be discussed in closed session.

At the previous meeting, Mayor Sloan had said it was cruel to keep putting Carmany through job performance reviews. The June 14 review was the third since December 2009. Sloan said he thought Carmany had done a fantastic job.

On June 14, Miller held up documents that he said he believed indicated that Carmany had not done a fantastic job. The documents were apparently related to the two previous performance reviews. Miller said the city had not cleared his name after an investigation into complaints filed against him by Carmany in 2009. Those complaints, by all accounts, had been found to be without merit.

“I think it’s cruel to make false allegations against a council member,” Miller said.

At the previous council meeting, Levitt had suggested the council consider changing the rules of conduct so council members would have to get a three-vote majority approval to have an item placed on the agenda. Miller said he would fight against such a rule.

Miller wasn’t the only one concerned about Carmany’s performance. Patty Campbell, a College Park East resident who has also questioned the need to replace the North Gate Road fire station, commented on a recent article in the Orange County Register that compared salaries and other compensation for city managers. Campbell, a former council member, has been a long time critic of Carmany.

Miller then said there needs to be an outside investigation of how council members get items on the agenda.

Campbell said Carmany had given himself pay raises without the council’s knowledge. She asked all five council members, “When are you going to start minding the store?”

Robert Goldberg, a Bridgeport resident and Seal Beach activist who watches budget issues closely, said he thought Campbell’s remarks were “not fair.” He said a previous council had decided that the city manager should be paid more than the chief of police. He said he believed Carmany’s pay raises were driven by his contract. Goldberg did raise a point that one pay raise might have been based on incorrect information. Goldberg told the Sun Newspapers he believed that was an honest mistake and he would look into it further when Carmany had returned from his vacation.