Upland Bringing Back Deputy City Manager Post

(July 30) In 1998, the city of Upland did away with the position of assistant city manager, essentially putting then-assistant city manager Mike Matlock out of work. The city council at that time reasoned that the assistant city manager’s position and its expense were not justified, given the competence and reliability of the city manager.
In 2005, however, then-mayor John Pomierski was seeking to solidify his hold on the reins of power and he moved to oust the two strongest personalities at City Hall, city manager Mike Milhiser and police chief Marty Thouvenell. He then installed Robb Quincey, an individual amenable to his direction, as city manager. The difficulty was that Quincey, despite having bachelor’s and master’s degrees and a doctorate in public administration, was not long on municipal managerial experience. His only time in that role had been in the slightly more than four years he had put in as Hesperia city manager. In Hesperia, Quincey enjoyed the title of city manager but it was assistant city manager Rod Foster, who had far more municipal management experience than Quincey, who actually ran the City of Progress. Within two weeks of his arrival in Upland, Quincey convinced Pomierski to lure Foster away from Hesperia to serve as city manager in Upland.
Under Pomierski and Quincey, a whole host of questionable and illegal acts took place, including bribery, the tweaking of city policy and the planning and approval processes for illicit purposes, improperly instituted salary and benefit adjustments to the city manager,together with fraudulently reported and unauthorized expenditures of city money. Along the way, Pomierski and Quincey corrupted and involved multiple high ranking city department heads in their depredations, including the community/planning division head, who assisted Pomierski in shaking down individuals with project proposals and permit applications before the city and the city clerk who processed documentation for Quincey outside normal channels.
Just as Pomierski relied upon Quincey to keep city operations in sync with his corrupt activities, Quincey relied upon Foster to keep City Hall’s legitimate operations running on a day-to-day basis. After Foster departed Upland to take the position of city manager in Colton, Pomierski and Quincey’s span of control over both the normal and illicit elements of Upland’s municipal government became compromised and events soon overtook both of them. The FBI raided City Hall in June 2010, leading first to Quincey’s suspension, then to Pomierski’s resignation, then Pomierski’s indictment and conviction and then Quincey’s indictment and conviction.
Quincey was replaced by then-finance director Stephen Dunn, who stayed as city manager until June 2014. He was succeeded by Martin Lomeli, who served in an interim capacity. Rod Butler is now the city manager.
Neither Dunn nor Lomeli had an assistant city manager. Until now, neither did Butler.
As of August 19, Jeannette Vagnozzi, the current assistant to the city manager of La Verne, will be Upland’s deputy city manager. She will take on much of the function of Stephanie Mendenhall, Upland’s former administrative services director, who retired July 16. Of note is that Vagnozzi, will receive roughly $100,000 per year less than Mendenhall. Vagnozzi will be provided with $130,628 in annual salary and benefits. By 2010, Mendenhall was one of the highest paid city clerks in the state of California, receiving a base salary and add-ons of $175,606, plus benefits of $55,624 for a total annual compensation package of $231,230. When Dunn became city manager, he contemplated terminating her as one of the key functionaries in the Pomierski/Quincey regime, but elected not to. Instead he increased her duties, making her the city’s administrative services director and risk manager. Mendenhall later added human resources director to her titles. Vagnozzi will function in all of those capacities as well as Butler’s chief designee.
Vagnozzi said she was cognizant of what had occurred in the past with regard to the assistant city manager’s position but that “You can’t compare the current operation with the past or how it was organized in the past.”
She said that despite the resolve of the 1998 council to do away with the assistant city manager’s position, there now exists a need for augmenting the city’s administrative echelon beyond its relatively thin ranks of the past several years. “If you look at any similarly sized cities in this area, you will see they have a deputy city manager or assistant city manager or administrative assistant to the city manager,” she said. “The position of city manager requires a significant amount of support. Upland just had its administrative services director retire. That position basically translates to a deputy city manager position. With this reorganization, I will have authority over human resources, risk management, the city clerk’s office, financial operations and any other projects Rod Butler would bring me in on. Sometimes those positions are filled by multiple people but in a lean staffing model such as in Upland they will be consolidated.”
Vagnozzi said she was not prepared to pass judgment on how things had been run in the past. “I can’t really comment on anything done before,” she said. “I was not part of the operations at that time.”
She said she preferred looking forward rather than back. “Upland is where I grew up,” she said. “I am exited to be coming back to Upland to be part of the team that will be part of the solutions for the challenges Upland has faced.”

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