Claremont Insider: Oliver, We Hardly Knew Ye

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Oliver, We Hardly Knew Ye

The karma trolley just rolled into the station. Earlier this week, former Claremont Assistant to the City Manager Oliver Chi agreed to resign as Rosemead's city manager, the Pasadena Star News reports.

You might recall that Chi, who seemed to hitch his wagon (apologies for all the conveyance metaphors) to the falling Glenn Southard star, left our humble town not too long after Southard fled to the Indio. Chi went to Rosemead as an assistant city manager and was given the top job there in August, 2007 at the tender age of 27.

Chi, who was the youngest city manager in the area, always struck us as the Eddie Haskell type, oozing a saccharine eagerness to please. He may not have intended it, but it often came off as insincerity. Is he kidding me? one would think, as Chi cozied up to whichever local power brokers graced an event.

The Pasadena Star article said that Chi may have agreed to resign after his ally on the Rosemead council, former Mayor John Tran, lost his re-election bid. Don't weep too much for Chi, however. He was earning $196,000 a year, including benefits, and Rosemead gave him $350,000 severance package, quite enough to tide the young man over until he lands another city management gig.

Boy, at that rate, you could live pretty well. Kind of like a fireman: on a couple years, off a couple, just working long enough to earn a healthy severance, then getting yourself dismissed. Of course, that assumes cities would continue to hire you. But, heck, there are an awful lot of towns in California and the U.S. who'd love to throw cash around once the economy picks up. Or even before - thanks, American Recovery and Reinvestment Act!

Part of Chi's resignation agreement includes a no-sniping clause, which precludes the parties from speaking disparagingly of each other. The article did note that one of the possible complaints about Chi was his expansion of Rosemead's city staff (hmmm, why are we not surprised?). You might recall that Matt Hawkesworth, Claremont's former director of finance, left town to join Chi in Rosemead, a move that in hindsight may not look so smart.

Fortunately for Hawkesworth and the rest of Rosemead's staff, Chi's resignation agreement also included a 90-day moratorium on staff layoffs, with exceptions for thing like dismissals due to Rosemead's financial condition or the elimination of positions, the Star article said.

The Star also reported that the Rosemead council has hired former El Segundo city manager Jeffrey Stewart as interim city manager.