YEAR IN REVIEW: Leadership changes at City Hall
"Change" is the word of 2012 when describing leadership at City Hall.
Starting with the city manager's position right down to police chief, city planner and director of Public Works, it was change all the way. Even the City Council has a new look following November's election.
And while change was a common theme this year, many of the faces remain the same.
In January, former City Manager Steve Kimbrough, a 17-year veteran with the city, was ousted because of a new state law affecting his retirement status while at the same time working part-time for the city.
Choosing not to bring new blood to the job, the council instead placed two hats on Public Works Director John Brewer, leaving him in that position while mantling him with the city manager position as well.
That duel responsibility will last through January, when Assistant Public Works Director Patrick Walker will become the city's new Public Works director. City staff has been searching for a new assistant Public Works director, and a candidate's name will soon go before the council.
For the same reason Kimbrough had to leave his job with the city, former Police Chief Tony Cardenas had to do the same in February. Both Kimbrough and Cardenas had moved to part-time status in 2011 in an effort to help balance the 2011-12 fiscal budget. The move backfired for both men when the California Public Employees' Retirement System law jeopardized some of their retirement benefits.
Sgt. Don Atkins took the helm at the police department, with Cardenas serving for five months as a department consultant in an effort to provide a smooth transition. Atkins was hired as the police chief in February.
In June, City Planner John Stoufer, who was also on retirement/part-time status, was approved to the status of part-time city planning consultant. He is working as a consultant at $40 per hour. The term of the contract is for one year, ending June 30.
The council also approved to continue a budget consultant contract agreement with Kimbrough at $60 per hour in June. He had been working as a consultant to the city since his retirement in January.
Councilman John Leach voted against the contract with Kimbrough, stating, "He is retired and it is time for him to go on and have fun with his life."
Corning resident Susan Price called the move "cronyism."
In November, incumbent Leach lost his bid for re-election, and Toni Parkins didn't seek another term.
That placed the election's two winners, Cardenas and Willie Smith on the City Council. They were sworn in on Dec. 4.