With the suspension of Rosemary Hoerning as city manager, Steven Parker is the new honcho in Upland, and he is not going to allow things to get away from him like she did. Indeed, if that happens, Parker is prepared to leave on his own terms rather than be forced out on the city council’s terms, as has happened with Hoerning.
Parker, who has been elevated to the position of acting city manager, is no pushover. He landed the assistant city manager position in Upland in April of last year on the strength of the four month’s experience he had as the accounting manager with the City of West Covina, the year and seven months he spent as the assistant city manager with the City of Stanton, where for four years and five months before that he was Stanton’s director of administrative services. Prior to that, he spent six months as a department manager on loan to the City of San Bernardino while working for the preeminent municipal government consulting firm in California, Urban Futures. For three-and-a-half years before that he was the finance director with the Yorba Linda Water District. In addition to that, Parker had more than ten-and-a-half years experience as supervisor, manager and senior manager with the accounting firms of Mayer Hoffman McCann and Conrad & Associates. That experience convinced Hoerning that Parker had what it takes to serve as her right-hand man.
Parker knows that Hoerning was doing a first class job running the City of Gracious Living. He had been right beside her in the trenches as a senior member of her management team. She was felled by small-minded people in the city who either did not have the sharps to recognize the exemplary way in which she and Parker were making the machinery at Upland City Hall hum or who were so envious of their achievements that they felt compelled to cheapen them imposing on Hoerning a humiliating suspension she does not deserve.
Hoerning had the good sense to right Upland’s listing financial ship, and Parker admires her for that. A numbers cruncher extraordinaire, Parker recognizes that Upland’s top-flight public employees deserve all they are getting and more in the way of salaries, benefits and future promised pensions. It is Upland’s tightfisted and ungrateful citizens who have historically turned down the option of imposing further taxes upon themselves to defray the cost of the top-drawer service all of Upland’s residents are benefiting from. It is those small-minded people who are preventing the city from being able to maintain its fiscal integrity, Parker implicitly understands. Hoerning, with Parker’s assistance, found the solution to Upland’s dilemma: pension obligation bonds. Together they have the city on a course to issue $130 million worth of those bonds, projecting that debt onto the backs of the current generation’s children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, who will be better able to afford the opportunity to pay off the debt present-day Uplanders are accruing so they can benefit by the excellent service of the dedicated employees at City Hall.
Late last month, the Upland City Council in its questionable wisdom began the process of removing Hoerning as city manager, in so doing having Parker take on the duties she had formerly shouldered in overseeing city operations. Parker has gamely stepped into the role of acting city manager, yet he believes the council made a mistake in getting rid of someone as dedicated and competent as Hoerning. If the council is committed to that mistake and cannot be dissuaded from it, Parker would like to see Hoerning restored as city engineer, the position she was elevated from to take on the city manager’s post in 2019. That will be possible only if, after the insult that has been heaped upon her, Hoerning is yet willing to remain with the city.
As far as Parker is concerned, Hoerning and virtually everyone at City Hall have been the victims of a disinformation campaign perpetrated by wrongheaded city residents along with unscrupulous and unethical journalists. This agitation is aimed at tearing down the city and destroying the good names and reputations of the city’s municipal workforce. The Sentinel, Parker knows, has been a central element in this scurrilous promulgation of fake news.
A case in point is the Sentinel’s April 2 edition, which carried an article about Hoerning’s promotion of Community Development Director Robert Dalquest. The Sentinel erroneously reported that the community development director position in Upland had eight pay grades or steps. The Sentinel inaccurately reported that Hoerning’s action skipped Dalquest six of those steps to the seventh step. The Sentinel inaccurately reported that when Dalquest was hired by the city, he began, as do most city employees, at the lowest pay grade, or step, within the job category of community services director. The Sentinel, in error, reported that in conferring the raise upon Dalquest, Hoerning upped his pay by $32,876. All of that was a pack of insidious lies, according to Parker, designed to prejudice the city’s residents against Hoerning, the best city manager Upland ever had, and Dalquest, an urban planner universally recognized as someone at the very pinnacle of his profession.
Everyone in Upland knows, according to Parker, that there are thirteen steps, not eight, in the pay scale for Upland development services director, and that when Dalquest began with the city in December 2018, he was remunerated at a point on the pay scale midway between step four and step five. Thus, when Hoerning boosted Dalquest’s pay status, she did so only by two-and-one-half steps, a raise of $8,447.56, not the $32,876 reported in the Sentinel on April 2.
The way Parker sees it, the Sentinel is chock full of horseshit, which fortunately, is recognized by the majority of those who read it for what it is. Nevertheless, Parker, who is way smarter than all five of the members of the city council, recognizes that two of the council members are so stupid they actually take what appears in the Sentinel at face value. Saddled with this situation, Parker is facing an existential crisis and is not certain he wants to remain in the role of assistant city manager in Upland if and when the city council decides on who is to replace Hoerning, let alone subject himself to serving as acting city manager answerable to the full council until the arrival of a new city manager to relieve him of that burden.
If Parker cannot persuade the city council to keep Hoerning as city manager or as city engineer, he is ready to quit, which will leave Upland in a real fix.
The holder of this perspective refused to identify herself.