Madera Tribune File Photo
But 4-3 council vote is a squeaker; salary remains an issue, as does Frazier’s experience
In a contentious 4-to-3 vote the Madera City Council appointed former Madera police chief Steve Frazier as city administrator March 7. He replaces former administrator David Tooley, who resigned in December after some 25 years
The contract is reportedly an at will agreement for up to 12 months at 100 percent of Frazier’s previous salary as chief of police or approximately $14,288 a month and other benefits, or a lesser time period if a suitable replacement is found.
Council members Derek Robinson, Cece Foley Gallegos and Jose Rodriguez voted against Frazier’s appointment.
Robinson objected to Frazier’s appointment, saying what he called the larger-than-necessary salary amount being paid does nothing to reduce the city’s deficit.
“This is cronyism. This is not saving money. There are plenty of (more qualified) people on a list with the League of Cities that would be happy to come on board to help us. Retired city managers ...”
“(Frazier) was police chief,” Robinson continued, but he’s up there collecting money now (as city administrator) and he doesn’t know what he’s doing ... or what is going on. He’s being overpaid, especially for his (level of) experience,” Robinson said.
Frazier, reportedly now retired from the Madera Police Department could be collecting up to
90 percent of his highest last wage as his police pension, and possibly other benefits as well.
Business owner Khalid Chaudhry also spoke to the council and said he felt residents of Madera were being taken advantage of and still being ignored. Chaudhry objected to the use of tax dollars for more studies and yet more consultants, to study water and salary issues widely known to already be among the highest in the Central Valley.
“We residents expect good governance and only need a few good people (to change this.)” Chaudhry said. “Especially to fix the executive salaries. Now you have hired retired city manager, advisers, consultants studying other consultants. You are wasting a lot of (taxpayers) money. Would you do your personal business like that? You can simply reset these salaries. Why waste money on consultants? Please reset these salaries based on the income levels here. It only takes (a vote of) four (members of the council).” Robinson also said he felt blindsided by the self appointed ad hoc committee of Mayor Andy Medellin and council members Will Oliver, and Charles Rigby making the Frazier appointment decision themselves.
“They are biased. How do they know what kind of job he’s doing? Also changing his title from interim city manager to city manager? Why? That’s just like giving him the job. He’s already in. And why are we paying him (this much) to learn on the job? We want someone with experience,” Robinson said. “It also doesn’t take up to a year to find somebody (for this position). There are plenty of (qualified) people who would run over here to have this job.” he said.
Robinson said the lack of actual salary numbers for Frazier at the council meeting made him uncomfortable, and he felt the omission might have been intentional.
“They did it on purpose. That’s why I mention the salaries of the other city managers — who are doing a great job. Brian Haddix, city manager of Chowchilla, he makes $144,000 annually. The manager of Atwater, he makes $164,000. A lot of people would love to come here to the city (of Madera) to work,” Robinson said.
“I thought we had had at least four votes (on the council) to stop this. But Donald (Holley) changed his mind. He caved in, for what reason I don’t know. I am trying to save the taxpayers money. We are already in trouble because of CalPers (pension contributions) ... and that’s only getting worse,” he said. “And this contract with Frazier was binding.” He also mentioned it had a severance clause.
Robinson said he hoped the Mayor and ad hoc committee would be motivated to find an experienced city manager to replace Frazier as soon as possible, but he said he wasn’t optimistic about it, as he had tried to discuss his thoughts with Mayor Medellin and others on the council.
“The Three Amigos, (Medellin, Oliver and Rigby) they just ignored us.” Robinson said.