Duffy Leaving Grand Terrace To Take Oakland Public Works Post

Grand Terrace City Manager G. Harold Duffy is leaving the post he has held for six years on July 20 to take on the position of the City of Oakland’s public works director.
Duffy quietly announced on June 22, 2021 his resignation, effective July 20.
This week the city scheduled a special meeting of the city council for next Monday, July 12, at which it is to adjourn into a closed session and, outside the scrutiny of the public, arrive at a consensus on the appointment of an interim city manager. It is anticipated that the city council will announce its selection after coming out of that closed session.
The next day, July 13, at its regularly scheduled meeting, the city council is scheduled to vote on employing, at a cost of up to $29,000, an executive search firm to recruit a new city manager.
The three executive search firms the city will consider for the assignment are Bob Murray and Associates, Peckham and McKenney, and Ralph Anderson and Associates.
The firms were chosen by Duffy, who noted their “extensive statewide experience recruiting chief executives for local governments” and that “During the past year alone, the firms have successfully recruited over 50 city managers.” All three firms, Duffy said, are “qualified to assist the city in a deliberate and thoughtful process to find the ideal city manager for the City of Grand Terrace.”
Duffy has been Grand Terrace’s city manager since June 2015, at which time he replaced interim City Manager Carol Jacobs, who held that post in the preceding five months following the 13-month tenure of another interim city manager, Kenneth Henderson, who had replaced the city’s previous manager, Betsy Adams, who had resigned in 2013.
That year, the final one in the economic downturn now commonly referred to as the Great Recession, Grand Terrace, the smallest city in San Bernardino County geographically and the third smallest county city in terms of population, was subjected to severe financial hardship, forcing Adams to have the city council as it was then composed declare a fiscal emergency, often seen as a precursor to a public agency seeking bankruptcy protection.
With Duffy at the helm, Grand Terrace avoided bankruptcy, but financial challenges continued to dog the city, which in 2010 and 2011 floated some $11 million in bonds through its redevelopment agency in a rush to beat the clock against then-Governor Jerry Brown’s and the California Legislature’s action to close out redevelopment agencies throughout the state. In the eleven years since, the city found itself in the position of making $1.5 million in interest payments for bonds it could not utilize.
Even before Duffy was in place, the city was slashing employees, and that trend continued after he arrived.
By 2020, the city had already been reduced to 12 employees. When the coronavirus pandemic hit, Duffy and Assistant City Manager Cynthia Fortune, projecting that the 3.5 square mile city was facing an estimated $545,210 shortfall for Fiscal Year 2019-20 and a projected $1,116,387 deficit for Fiscal Year 2020-21, called for cutting the city staff in half, with one of the remaining employees being reduced to part-time, at 20 hours. The city council went along with that strategy. The city eliminated a management analyst, dispensed with two maintenance workers, laid off the city’s executive assistant, terminated an office specialist and left a vacant secretary position unfilled.
The city cut the hours of one of its two code enforcement officers by half. In addition, the city reclassified the city’s public works director position, held by Allen French, to that of senior engineer, reducing French’s income for the remainder of 2019-21 by $3,935 and by $23,610 in 2020-21.
Duffy had an essentially positive relationship with a majority of the city council during his five years in Grand Terrace, though at times there was some discontent with his management decisions by certain council members, and some vocalization of opposition to the city’s policies by residents on occasion. Momentum to remove him as city manager never reached a tipping point.
Prior to his hiring in Grand Terrace, Duffy had been city manager in Compton for two-and-a-half years, the city administrator with the City of Oroville, a manager in the planning and public works division in Yolo County for four years, a division manager in the City of Sacramento’s sanitation department for six years and an administrative analyst with the City of Riverside for eight years.
Among the city’s options for replacing Duffy are hiring Fortune to take on the temporary management assignment as well as forging a short-term pact with Fred Wilson, a former city administrator with the City of San Bernardino and former city manager of Huntington Beach. Wilson is an employee of Ralph Anderson and Associates, one of the executive recruitment firms the council is to consider hiring on Tuesday.
-Mark Gutglueck

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