Rialto Brings In Journeyman City Manager Carmany On 5-Year Contract To Serve As Top Administrator

A honeymoon of unknown duration has begun between David Carmany and the Rialto Mayor and City Council as Carmany is returning to a role in governance with a municipality in San Bernardino County where his public management career began almost four decades ago.
Rialto has burned through a half-dozen of generally experienced and established city managers in the last decade. Carmany fits the bill in terms of experience in comparison to his many predecessors.
In January 2011, Henry Garcia, who had been steadily in place as Rialto city manager for a decade, left abruptly to become city manager in Moreno Valley. Rialto Police Chief Mark Kling was tapped to fill in for Garcia. Thereafter, the city council settled on elevating Mike Story, a 27-year city employee who at that time was Rialto’s director of development services, to city manager. Story remained until the end of 2017, whereupon he was replaced by a succession of the city’s department heads who served in the interim top city managerial role. In June 2019, Rod Foster, who had been the titular assistant city manager/de facto city manager in Hesperia and Upland under Robb Quincey in both of those municipalities and then the city manager in both Colton and Laguna, signed on as city manager. In 2020, it became public knowledge that an internal audit into $200,000 in federal funds provided to Rialto that were directed to an organization led by Deborah Robertson’s daughter Milele Robertson, the Bethune Center-National Council of Negro Women, which operated rent free out of a city-owned building at 141 South Riverside Avenue in the city going back to 2011 was being conducted. At that point, Robertson faulted Foster for that exposé. Rather than hang onto his managerial post in an atmosphere in which the tension between the city’s top staff member and political leader was at a fever pitch, Foster in October 2020 resigned. He was temporarily replaced by Police Chief Kling, while the city council carried out a city manager recruitment that involved 85 applicants. In June 2021, Marcus Fuller, the assistant city manager of Palm Springs who had been Rialto’s public works director from 2012 to 2014, became city manager. Ultimately, however, that didn’t work out, and Fuller departed in January 2023. He was replaced by Arron Brown, the director of information technology in Palm Springs who had likewise acceded to deputy city manager in that city and then accompanied Fuller to Rialto as to serve as deputy city manager.
Despite the way in which he had left Rialto in the lurch more than a dozen years previously, Garcia was was brought back as an interim replacement in July 2023, supplanting Arron Brown as acting city manager. Because Garcia was at that point retired and participating in the California Public Employees Retirement System’s pension program, he was eligible to work only 960 hours per fiscal year. His time having now expired, the city council settled on Carmany, another journeyman city administrator.
After obtaining his bachelor’s degree in public affairs with a minor in public administration and a focus on urban and regional planning from USC, Carmany went to work as an assistant to City Manager Seth Armstead in Grand Terrace. In 1981 he went to work in Alhambra as the community development director, and then promoted to assistant city manager. In 1987 he was hired as city manager in Agoura Hills, a relatively small city north of Malibu and the Santa Monica Mountains. He remained there six years, and in 1983, was hired by recently incorporated Malibu to serve as city manager there. In 1997, he left Malibu to become the city manager of Pacifica in San Mateo County. In 2003, he was terminated as city manager in Pacifica, and he left the public sector to become an employee with Public Agency Retirement Services, which offers administrative services to public agencies in managing their pension systems. In 2007, he reinitiated his public agency management career as city manager with the City of Seal Beach and in 2010 became the city manager of the substantially larger City of Manhattan Beach. In 2014 he became manager of La Puente and in 2019 was hired as the city manager of West Covina.
Carmany has, as is common among city managers, been terminated or been forced into resigning more than once.
In 2003, Carmany was terminated as city manager in Pacifica “for cause,” which obviated the provision of his contract requiring that he be given severance pay. Carmany sued, which resulted in a settlement in which he was provided with $175,000.
Manhattan Beach City Council members unanimously dismissed Carmany as that city’s top administrator in November 2013, citing the need to “move in a new direction.” In doing so, Carmany was terminated without cause. The firing came within the context of a contretemps with a former Manhattan Beach employee who was alleging Carmany forced her to alter figures in staff reports, shred documents and falsify financial disclosure forms. The suit also had a sexual harassment component, with the former employee alleging that Carmany would stand over her while she was at her desk and stare down her blouse. She filed a lawsuit against the city in 2014, one which was settled two years later, with the woman receiving $1.5 million to drop the matter, with both sides paying their attorney fees and the city making no admission of further liability or wrongdoing.
When Carmany was hired by West Covina in 2019, it was done on a bare miniimum 3-to-2 vote, with then Mayor Lloyd Johnson and Councilwoman Jessica Shewmaker opposed to his hiring. He did, though, at that time have the enthusiastic support of Councilman Tony Wu, who endorsed Carmany as the kind of “common sense” public official capable of methodically working through difficulties facing public agencies.
Carmany’s time in West Covina, which has had nearly as unstable of a relationship with city managers as Rialto has had with its top administrators, was star-crossed from the outset. When he came into the city manager position, West Covina was wrestling with an $8.7 million deficit, which had in turn created unrest within the professional ranks at City Hall over deferred raises and benefit increases. Over time, Carmany was able to balance, or come close to balancing, the city’s finances. Nevertheless, in the arena of personnel management and maintaining civil working relations with his political masters, Carmany was severely challenged.
By his second year in West Covina, Carmany’s relationship with Wu grew testy. This was despite Carmany’s efforts at supporting retrenchment with regard to some of the city’s long-term employees.
At the time Carmany became city manager, some members of the city council, including Wu, had designs on forcing West Covina Fire Chief Larry Whithorn, who had started as a firefighter/paramedic with the department in 1991 and was promoted to fire chief in 2014, into retirement. Indeed, before Carmany arrived, the city was moving in that direction. After Whithorn took an extended leave medical leave in 2017 and then took further leave in 2018 to look after his ailing father, an effort to force him to retire ensued. Whithorn resisted and in the midst of the fire chief controversy, with the West Covina Firefighters Association issuing a vote of no confidence against Whithorn and Whithorn seeking to demote union members or changing their schedules and duties in reaction to their picketing City Hall, the situation deteriorated. Some of the department’s firefighters, who stood a chance at promotion with Whithorn’s departure, became further embroiled in the bureaucratic fisticuffs. Then-City Manager Chris Freeland and Human Resources Director Edward Macias, at the bidding of Wu and Planning Commissioner Glenn Kennedy, were pressuring Whithorn to retire throughout 2018. In March 2019, Freeland, Macias and Finance Director Marcie Medina abruptly resigned. The city’s effort to depict Whithorn as distracted and an “absentee” fire chief was in full swing when Carmany arrived shortly thereafter. Carmany took up where Freeland and Macias had left off, carrying out what he recognized as the city council’s imperative to get rid of Whithorn. He proffered Whithorn a resignation letter, which the fire chief refused to sign. When Whithorn did not go quietly into the good night, Carmany terminated him.
Whithorn responded with a lawsuit in which he alleged a hostile work environment, age discrimination, harassment, defamation and both constructive and unlawful termination.
Wu, despite having been a prime mover in the effort to get rid of Whithorn, and at least one other member of the city council blamed Carmany for his hamfisted approach in firing Whithorn, believing he should have used greater skill and politesse in cashiering him and not giving the fire chief the basis upon which to file suit.
The deterioration of the relationship between Wu and Carmany gave rise to a deeply untoward circumstance, one that was not handled very gracefully.
In the Spring of 2022, Carmany went to the West Covina Police Department, alleging that during a meeting, Wu physically threatened him. The police department, declaring a conflict of interest, passed the complaint along to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. That matter was still being investigated when, on May 5, 2023, a Los Angeles County jury found in favor of Whithorn in his suit against the city.
If, up until that point, Carmany had majority support on the city council to remain as city manager, his credibility and ability to function as the city’s top administrator was irretrievably compromised. The council met in closed session on May 16, 2023, taking no action but making clear that Carmany had to go, or else. On May 18, he resigned as city manager. The city council unanimously accepted his resignation and conferred upon him an as yet undisclosed severance payment. Both he and Wu, biting their tongues, offered amicable statements regarding Carmany’s departure.
“I have been privileged to work with David Carmany,” Wu said, before praising him for having “turned our city from almost bankrupt in 2018 to today [being] financially healthy. No matter what happened, he is always my friend and I want to thank him for his service and wish him all the best.”
Carmany said, “I have decided to resign as City Manager effective immediately. It has been my honor to serve the community of West Covina.”
The Rialto City Council voted to hire Carmany at its Tuesday evening, January 23 meeting, effective the next day.
Rialto announced yesterday, Thursday January 25, that they are pleased to bring Carmany aboard.
Mayor Robertson referenced his “impressive track record, leadership skills, and commitment to community engagement,” which she said will “make him the perfect fit for our city. We are confident that under David’s leadership, Rialto will continue to thrive and prosper.”
In proof thereof, the city signed Carmany to a five-year contract, which is to provide him with a $354,994 annual salary, together with pay add-ons and perquisites of $43,936, benefits of $74,227 plus an $89,454.48 contribution toward his pension for a total annual compensation of $562,611.48. That is a substantial increase over what he was making in West Covina, where he was being paid 218,780.24 in salary, $30,283 in pay add-ons and perquisites, $24,685.15 in benefits and a $55,130.15 contribution toward his pension for a total annual compensation of $328,878.54.
“I want to thank the mayor and city council for their confidence in me and look forward to proactively engaging with the community, getting to know my team and collaborating with the council to develop progressive and innovative initiatives,” Carmany said.

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