Claremont Insider: Desert Update

Friday, January 29, 2010

Desert Update

Well, it turns out that the Indio City Council did decide to offer some of its employees, including our friend Glenn Southard, golden handshakes as a way of reducing its payroll. As expected, Southard, having designed the very package he desired, took it.

The Desert Sun reports that Southard has announced his decision to retire from Indio, leaving the desert town with a $5 million budget deficit. Southard gets high marks from many in Indio for all the things he accomplished in his five years there. The Sun article lists those good works, some of which included revamping of the city's water system, repaving Indio's roads, and revitalizing of the city's downtown area.

As ever with Southard, there is always a price to pay, and the Desert Sun article also noted Southard's downside:

In recent months, however, Southard's leadership has drawn sharp criticism from council members and valley residents:

In October, Southard asked council members to withdraw consideration of a change to his contract that would have given him more than 10 weeks of vacation a year. He said the issue and swirling questions “became a distraction.”

The city jeopardized $1.5 million in federal funding — earmarked for a major road project and for improving community housing conditions — when two different agencies questioned how the money was spent or the city's actions leading up to it.

City Hall revoked most of its credit cards and drafted new oversight requirements after a Jan. 3 Desert Sun report showed the city's 62 cardholders had charged more than $805,000 since January 2008. That included nationwide travel, frequent meals out and tickets to three national sporting events.

So, Southard sails off into the municipal managment sunset, taking with him a $300,000-plus yearly CalPERS pension, to which he'll indicates he'd like to add consultant fees, hoping that Indio will bring him to let him help with some of the city's unfinished projects.

All this just goes to show the truth in the old saying: when the going gets tough, Glenn gets going.