The Hemet City Council wasted no time in hiring an interim city manager to replace Alex Meyerhoff who resigned last month by hiring former San Bernardino City Manager Allen Parker at a special meeting last week.
Parker, 76, served as San Bernardino’s city manager from February 2013 until Dec. 31, 2017, when he resigned under pressure.
Now he is Hemet’s newest city manager, after signing the hiring agreement papers Thursday, Aug. 31. He will serve as interim city manager for the next six months at the same salary as Meyerhoff. Parker takes Interim City Manager Scott Brown’s position, allowing him to return to his regular duties as the city’s police chief.
Despite criticism from several audience members at the special council meeting who spoke during the public comment session, the full council voted approval of Parker’s hiring, praising him for his accomplishments as San Bernardino’s city manager by helping forward the city’s Chapter 9 bankruptcy recovery plan and guiding it through the December 2015 terrorist attack.
Parker, in a short employment acceptance speech, told the council, “I am very pleased to be here. I see Hemet has an excellent future ahead. I come with open eyes. I look to work together with team and staff on these strategic plans I am looking forward to it, and I fully intend to give it my all.“
In an earlier interview, Parker said his emphasis will be working with the council to create a viable strategic plan for the next two to five years.
“I will be very interested in completing the strategic plan and hiring a financial assistant,” he said.
Once the official hiring announcement was made by council, three Hemet residents during public comment criticized the council’s decision on hiring Parker and for not doing enough research to find the right candidate for the job.
Resident Pat Gregory told the council she had researched Parker on the internet and questioned his qualifications for the job. Citing some financial issues Parker faced in the past, she said she believes the council’s decision to hire Parker “was just bad; it may be the most dangerous decision this council has ever made.”
Another resident, John W., suggested the meeting called to appoint Parker was “just too quick.” He said more research should have been done to find just the right city manager, and “perhaps a younger person?” The special meeting was called only two days earlier.
“I think you need to take the time to find just the proper person; get a man that has a lot more qualifications,” he said.
Marie McDonald said she hoped the new city manager would have more communication with Hemet residents, so they would know “what you are doing and how you are doing it.”
Councilman Russ Brown said he “respectfully chose to disagree” with the speakers.
“I think the candidate is extremely well qualified and experienced,” Brown said. “We have heard nothing but favorable comments from all the references that were checked including the secondary references.”
He said he looked forward to working with Parker and the staff.
“I too am excited about this choice and find it unfortunate that you guys (referencing the earlier speakers) haven’t had time to have done the research you would like to have done, but I will guarantee you will like it by his performance,” Councilwoman Karlee Meyer said. “You know I wouldn’t vote for someone who would do anything different from that.”
“We did not take this decision lightly; we were looking for strong leadership skills, someone who would move this city forward in a very positive direction,” Councilwoman Bonnie Wright said. “We needed to get someone in place as soon as possible, because of the lack of direction that has taken place in the last month needed to be corrected.”
She welcomed Parker and said she thought the staff “will be grateful with you in that position.”
“Mr. Parker had the qualities that we, as a council, were looking for based on what we were hearing from the public and what we’re hearing from staff,” Mayor Pro Tem Michael Perciful said.
He said he hoped Parker would get Hemet going into a positive direction.
“I think Mr. Parker is exactly what this city needs at this time,” Hemet Mayor Linda Krupa said. “I think his leadership skills, his consensus building, his strength are exactly what this city needs. We need to go forward. We need to forget about the past at this point, although keep it in mind, we have a lot of things haunting us from our past that we need to deal with, but we need to deal with all of this in a straightforward upright manner.”
In the news release citing their decision to hire Parker, the city council said, “Mr. Parker is well-qualified, having served as a city manager, village manager or tribal administrator for more than three decades. His experience includes successful downtown revitalization efforts in Seal Beach, Half Moon Bay and Oak Park, Illinois. He was an original founder of the California Redevelopment Association, serving on its board of directors for eight years. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in business administration from Chapman University and a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Kansas.”
The release said Parker will serve as interim city manager for a period of six months with a three-month evaluation by the city council to determine whether to hire him as the city’s permanent city manager.
“The council sees this as an opportunity to get to know his management style, productivity and interaction with the community. We are very fortunate to have an opportunity to evaluate each other to make sure it’s a good fit,” Krupa said.
Parker, who lives in Beaumont with his wife Sara, has four adult children and three grandchildren. His wife is a well-known artist and muralist and one of her murals hangs in the Bank of Hemet.
Parker said when the notice went out that Hemet was looking to hire a new city manager he had already put his application in for the position of assistant city manager before Meyerhoff resigned. He was interviewed for the city manager position last week by each of the council members.
In reference to his forced resignation at San Bernardino, he simply said, “The mayor didn’t like me.”