Elk Grove To Part Ways With Planning Department Contractor; Phil Carter Throws Shade on City Manager, Staff



March 22, 2017 |

In a major break with its past, last night the Elk Grove City Council voted unanimously to end ties with Michael Baker International (MBI), a successor of Pacific Municipal Consultants (PMC), an original contractor with the City dating to its July 1, 2000, incorporation.

Following a staff recommendation, the City will now hire five full-time employees to staff the planning department at a projected lower cost that was being paid to MBI. The City's contract with MBI expires on May 25, and it is expected contracted employees will be replaced as planners are hired.  

Appearing before the Council was Phil Carter, the founder and President and founder of the former PMC and current Vice President at MBI who made a last-ditch effort to salvage the contract. In his lengthy presentation, Carter seemingly insulted Elk Grove's executive staff as he tried to justify the continuation of the contract.

In that presentation, Carter started by pointing out that PMC's ties with the City are deep going back to the unsuccessful city hood bid in 1993 and that his organization ultimately helped win the 2000 incorporation victory.

"Let me begin by saying thank you, it was a pleasure to work for the City of Elk Grove," Carter said as he started his presentation. "I say that as I am not working here anymore, but it was a pleasure to work for the incorporation committee beginning in 1993."

Carter went on to say that while he was not there to sway the council, rather the policy direction that was established in 2008, when only one of the current Council Members, Pat Hume, was on the council. He argued that the Council should reassess the policy.

Also, Carter attacked the planning department staff report which referenced the so-called Sinclair Report. That report, commissioned after the 2006 election of Hume and former Council Member and Mayor Gary Davis suggested that among other things, the City start moving away from contracting various city departments, such as planning.

Carter argued that of the Sinclair Reports 54 recommendation, several were subjective based on perceptions and that conditions have changed.

"I was surprised the staff report it is still identified so prominently in your report today but not attached to the agenda," he said.

Addressing the staff report's discussion of how having a contracted planning department hurt the development of institutional knowledge, Carter pushed back. He complained that when the City's put out a request for bids soliciting a proposal from competiting interests, it demoralized his staff members assigned to the planning department.

"Our staff members were told indirectly that you are going to be fired, you are going to find someone else," he said.

In one of his first jabs at Elk Grove City Manager Laura Gill, Carter them cynically suggested for the City to see how it affects employee morale, they should tell staff members that their jobs are being put out to bid.

"My suggestion is if you want to see what kind of impact that had, pick any department in the City, go out to RFP [request for proposal] and just tell your staff we are going to look at options they can apply, do it with all your department heads," Carter said.

Acknowledging he was "facetious," Carter said two of his members "got nervous" and quit their jobs with MBI because of the City's actions.

As he tried dissecting the staff reports discussion of creating deeper institutional knowledge in the planning department, Carter directly attacked Gill regarding the turnover of Assistant City Managers over the last nine years.

"I believe the City has had three different Assistant City Managers since the Sinclair report and a number of other positions have changed," he said. "So the City, like a contractor, has turnover, so institutional knowledge needs to reside with City Council members and certain members of your staff."

Along with targeting Gill, an embittered Carter finished his presentation by taking a shot at Development Services Director, Darren Wilson, the author of the staff report recommending dismissal of MBI.

"What I would recommend, at some point, you look at a report that documents how your staff spends their time," Carter said. "That is something you should do with your own departments to determine that they are spending time the way you think they should, that is efficient, and is accomplishing the results you expect."

Zeroing in on Wilson, Carter said Gill should conduct an "operational review" of the planning department like those performed "on private sector service providers, you too should review how your staff performs."

Carter ended his presentation by taking credit for the City's financial health during The Great Recession. Citing an unspecified story from the Sacramento Bee, Carter noted that Elk Grove and Rancho Cordova were the only cities in the region unscathed by the economic downturn.

"It wasn't a coincidence that those were the two agencies that have private sector service providers in an area that is very heavily impacted by the economy," he concluded.






 

   













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1 comment

CityPlanner said...

It will be very hard for Elk Grove to be effective without Michael Baker. Just plain ignorance by the Planning Director and City Manager as institutional knowledge will be lost. Don't expect a smooth transition as it will take a few years to just get up to speed. Glad Phil made City staff look foolish.

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