A few days ago at a neighborhood backyard (and socially distanced) meeting, some neighbors referred to the City Manager as Blair “The” King. For me, that summed up what is wrong with our city governance.
On Tuesday the City Council voted as part of the Consent Agenda to increase Mr. King’s base salary by 2.75% to $256,624/yr plus an extra $5,000/yr to his supplemental retirement account. That amounts to a 4.75% pay hike during a time that our City has experienced the largest financial hit ever from the loss of several millions in revenue from TOT, sales tax and other income due to the pandemic. No one on City Council discussed any analysis as to why Mr. King deserved such a large raise. There was no list of the year’s accomplishments or any justification of any kind. This raise was preceded by pay hikes of 4.5% and 10.71% for the previous two years.
So who proposed this 4.75% pay raise? King’s contract amendment was written by another unelected official, Johanna Canlas, a junior San Diego attorney who works part time as Coronado City Attorney. Less than two years ago, Blair King amended Canlas’ contract with Coronado, increasing her retainer from $144,000/yr to $180,000/yr, a 25% hike. Council passed it on the Consent Agenda, no discussion. Well, I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine.
During the discussion of the location of the controversial golf course sewage plant, a councilmember requested that the story poles be left up for longer than one week, say two weeks. This would allow the community to more readily determine the aesthetic impact of the project. The city engineer agreed. “The” King, however, responded that story poles are not legally required, and then asked Canlas to back him up. Instead of addressing concerns and working towards solutions for the best interests of the community, “The” King does all he can to ram through his agenda.
When I asked why the Golf Course Advisory Committee (the driving force for the sewage plant) was uniquely exempt from Coronado’s Conflict of Interest code, “The” King said it is because he appoints the committee and is only answerable to him, not the City Council. This is how he justifies violating Coronado’s residency requirement for all members of Coronado’s committees and commissions, as with the appointment of Ron Roberts. So while all City staff and committee members are subject to the Conflict of Interest code, the Golf Course committee members are exempt? The councilmembers sheepishly accepted this explanation, and moved on.
The City Manager form of government in Coronado is dysfunctional. A small autocrat has set up shop in our city, and our subservient councilmembers, our sole elected officials, have not taken their civic and fiduciary responsibilities seriously.