Sacramento’s new City Manager, John Shirey, will take the reins of his new position on Thursday. Shirey was previously the Executive Director of the California Redevelopment Association. Those following Mayor Kevin Johnson’s push for a strong-mayor initiative may be interested in knowing that Shirey’s new contract stipulates that he is allowed to walk away from his job if the mayor somehow manages to get voters (not to mention the council) to approve the strong mayor proposal. It’s a bit of an escape clause, if you will; however, the clause should come as no surprise to those familiar with Shirey’s past statements about the strong-mayor form of governance, as he once said that “The manager’s position becomes untenable. He constantly has to broker between the mayor and the council in order to survive. The manager becomes a politician. […] If you really want to go that way, you really ought to change the city manager’s title because the manager really becomes the chief of staff.” In addition, he was the city manager of Cincinnati during its transition to a strong mayor system. An extra little tidbit to throw into the mix: Mayor Johnson was the only councilmember to vote against Shirey’s appointment to CM.
Now that Shirey has taken on a new role, his shoes needed to be filled for the CRA. It has been announced that retired Contra Costa County Redevelopment Chief Jim Kennedy will serve as the interim executive director through mid-2012. Back in March, Kennedy hung up his spurs, but he’s being called up from the bench and in his words, will “bridge the transition to the post-litigation realm when the shape of redevelopment will be better known.” You’ll recall the CRA and the League of CA Cities are in the middle of a legal battle against the state over the ransom payments that agencies have to pay in order to survive under new legislation. Kennedy is a 35-year veteran of Contra Costa County and once he returns to retirement, he plans to teach, work for a nonprofit, or write a nonfiction book on transit-oriented development.