Just days after City Manager Jill Ingram placed Community Development Director Jim Basham on paid administrative leave, the City Council split on a proposal to hire a consultant to provide the city with an interim substitute. New council members Schelly Sustarsic and Tom Moore voted against the proposal. District One Councilwoman Ellery Deaton was absent, resulting in a tie vote. So the council voted 3-1 to continue the matter. Moore cast the dissenting vote.
However, bringing the matter back means the city will vote again on whether to hire the consultant. Deaton is expected to vote to hire.
On Jan. 30 a man told the council that his wife had resigned because Basham was disrespectful to her. A Feb. 2 Sun guest column alleged that there had been at least three complaints with the city about Basham’s treatment of employees.
City residents last month complained about how the city apparently failed to prepare for January storms when Basham was still doing double duty as interim director of Public Works. The West End Pump station was not working during the January rains. Basham knew there was a problem with one of the pumps since Dec. 22.
Basham was replaced as Public Works director on Jan. 30 by Steve Myrter, former Public Works director for Signal Hill. Basham’s pay while on administrative leave will not include the temporary pay raise of about $1,400 a month he received starting in August 2015 for running two departments. That temporary increase was not part of Basham’s contract and ended when Myter took over the Public Works Department.
Anderson Penna Partners, a consulting firm Seal Beach has used in the past, submitted a proposal to provide Seal Beach with an interim director of Community Development on Feb. 7. The proposal included providing the city with a code enforcement officer.
The proposal would have paid Anderson Penna $150 an hour to have Scott Barber, a retired former Riverside city manager, to work at City Hall three days a week. If approved, the agreement could cost Seal Beach $133,000 a year.
According to Moore, Seal Beach was paying twice as much for the same position. “From a fiscally responsible viewpoint, I suggest we ask staff to first resolve the current situation and then start searching for long-term employees,” Moore said.
Sustarsic said she wasn’t clear on where the money to pay for an interim development director was coming from. Mayor Sandra Massa-Lavitt, however, expressed concern about the workloads of the senior planner and assistant planner. She said the city needed an experienced development director.
Basham is the second Seal Beach department head placed on paid leave since Chief Joe Stilinovich was placed on leave about five months ago. While many citizens have consistently expressed support for Stilinovich, Basham has no known community support. Robert Goldberg, a frequent Basham critic, urged the council to send a message to the city manager that she will have to go without a department head for now. Sharman Snow said the community knew what Basham did wrong, while the community was still waiting to know what “Chief Joe” did. Anderson Penna’s proposed interim Community Development Director is Scott Barber, who was Riverside’s city manager from August 2011 to his retirement in December 2014.