Originally sent on Aug. 3 from Ken Pulskamp, President, City Managers Department

To All City Managers and Assistant City Managers:

As you are well aware, the issues that evolve as a result of the City of Bell salary scandal will continue to require strong and assertive leadership on the part of everyone in our profession.

There is no reason to reiterate the absurdity and absolute disgust of this situation.  At this point, we are focused on moving forward and ensuring that as a profession we take a hold of this crisis and participate in meaningful reforms that will regain the public’s trust and make our profession stronger in the future.  To that end, I wanted to provide you with the framework from which we are working to accomplish that.

1) Working with Chris McKenzie to create reform measures that would be included in draft legislation. This draft legislation would be used to work with Legislators and serve as the framework for the regulatory response.

2) Continue to work on and finalize the draft City Manager Compensation Guidelines (attached hereto for reference).  These guidelines will be finalized and taken to the League’s Board of Directors for adoption at their September meeting.

3) Continue to offer our assistance to the State Attorney General (AG), LA County District Attorney (DA), and State Controller on their investigations into the Bell matter.  We have already sent letters to both the AG and DA and made contact offering such assistance. The letter to the State Controller was also sent.

4) Work with ICMA to conduct an immediate salary survey limited to 2009 taxable income as reported on W-2s  (only W-2s from the employing public agency) .  The intent is to gather this information very quickly and make it available on the League website.  There is an immediate need for consistent and comparable data.  Using W-2 reported “Medicare Wages” (Box 5) will provide consistency and comparability.

The survey will have a August 13 date for submission of information from all cities and counties.

During the next couple of months, a more comprehensive total compensation survey will be considered.  Given that each local agency’s contract and compensation situation is somewhat unique, it will take time and effort to develop a useful total compensation
survey.  Ultimately, this survey would be posted on the League website, likely updated on a calendar year basis.

A task force of approximately 15 people comprised of various city managers from throughout the State and representatives from ICMA, CCMF, the Assistant groups, and county associations/representatives has been assembled to work diligently and deliberatively over the next few weeks.  The task force, chaired by Kevin O’Rourke, will be working hand-in-hand with the League of California Cities and will focus on the tasks listed above as well as anything else that evolves.  As mentioned, we are working closely with the county managers as the reform is intended to apply broadly.

As city managers we need to act both thoughtfully and assertively to address this issue and ensure the public understands the situation in Bell is not indicative of who we are as dedicated professionals and public servants.  Chris McKenzie and myself will serve as the main contacts on this issue going forward as representatives of the department and League. 

It is strongly recommended that city managers utilize us as a clearinghouse of information so that we have a unified approach/message.  Having random and disparate positions from varying city managers across the State does not help in attempting to respond and to create measures that can be adopted quickly and with the support of Legislators and ultimately our communities.

Thank you for your support and attention to this matter. I know this issue has had an impact on all of our communities.  I am confident that with a unified, transparent, and thoughtful approach we will emerge positioned to continue providing the needed leadership and
service to our communities.


Ken Pulskamp
President, City Managers Department