Details Emerging On Grounds For Colton City Manager Compton’s Suspension

(July 3)  Colton City Manager Stephen Compton’s suspension by the city council last month came about as a result of his having exceeded his authority by micromanaging the operations in the public works department.
Specifically, Compton is alleged to have bypassed the public works director in approving payments relating to six public works contracts in an amount totaling $81,851 without conferring with the public works department beforehand.
Compton, a former assistant city manager in Ridgecrest and the one-time finance director for Omnitrans, in March 2013 was lured from his then-position as the accounting manager for the city of Fountain Valley to serve as Colton city manager.
He had 32 years in various municipal government assignments before coming to Colton. While he was considered to be the top staffer and had the power to suspend city employees on his own authority and hire and fire department heads serving below him with the consent of the city council, his authority did not extend to department operations. Though he was permitted to dictate operational policy as arrived at by the city council to the city’s department heads, he was limited to delegating the actual operational authority to those below him.
Compton was placed on paid administrative leave on June 5 pending the outcome of an investigation into his actions, the nature of which were not specified. There has been continuous speculation about the grounds for his suspension in the weeks since. The city attorney’s office, however, has yet to complete its review and provide a conclusion to the city council.
At the July 1 city council meeting, differences among the council members surfaced with regard to whether the actions at the center of the matter pertaining to Compton should be considered public or remain confidential at this time.
Councilman Frank Gonzales asserted that the items pertained to the expenditure of city funds that had already been made, thus falling into the public domain. Most of his council colleagues differed, seemingly because that spending involved a matter relating to a potential personnel matter, which is considered confidential.
The parameters of the discussion, however, revealed that the expenditures related to the public works department and most or all were for consulting services which had not been signed off on by the public works director.
Of the  $81,851 in unauthorized spending Compton is alleged to have been engaged in, the Sentinel has identified four recipients of $75,000 of that total.
Beginning in August 2013, Compton retained for $25,000 the services of Imperial Beach-based Government Staffing Services to perform a long term financial modeling project. In October 2013 Compton retained on the city’s behalf the services of Fullerton-based Revenue & Cost Specialists, Ltd. at a cost of $12,000 for a development impact report. In March 2014 Compton retained the services of Lancaster-based Passantino Anderson Communications LLC at a cost of $25,000 for work on the Colton and Grand Terrace Wastewater Project. Compton also retained in March the Carlsbad-based firm of BW Research Partnership at a cost of $13,000 to work on the Colton and Grand Terrace Wastewater Project.

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