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Change Ahead In Little Moraga As Key Administrative Positions Open In Wake Of Resignations

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It pretty much boils down to who you’re talking with at the time. Some Moraga Town Watchers maintain the relatively recent departure of several key town officials is indicative of underlying pressures at the leadership level, while others chalk the departures up to an historic tendency by city officials moving on from Moraga in favor of positions elsewhere.

We’ll say we have noted a little “tension” of late, understandable perhaps as those entrusted with running the town deal with a couple of heavyweight revenue-drainers – the now-filled-in sink hole and Canyon Bridge, open and carrying traffic again but currently confined to one lane.

We can flatly say that a lot of townspeople were unhappy with the time it took to repair those two key components of town infrastructure, with many pointing to the recently announced departures of Town Manager (and former chief of police) Bob Priebe; Administrative Services Director Amy Cunningham, and Planning Director Ellen Clark’s resignations as somehow related to the pressures surrounding those positions.

Parks and Recreation Director Jay Ingram’s position, currently occupied on an interim basis by Mike Vickers, sometimes gets folded into conversations about the town’s leaders heading for the hills in the face of a mounting community dissatisfaction, but some insiders say “not so fast.”

Moraga has historically been an “incubator” for people working in municipal government positions, they maintain, with candidates taking jobs as “first-time department heads in a smaller community” before getting noticed, usually by neighboring communities, and leaving for “greener pastures.”

And the latest recent “wave” of departures is not without precedent, with former Town Manager Jill Keimach moving on to the same post in Alameda and Stephanie Hom coming to Moraga to serve as Finance and Administrative Services director before returning to Oakland upon the election of Libby Schaaf.

The Town’s most recent departures will almost certainly have an immediate, short-term impact, with all of the recent resignations effective the first half of December.

But even with that tight of a re-hiring deadline looming, officials this site was able to reach for comment apparently remain optimistic – if anonymous.

“The Town will get through this,” one said. “… as we have in the past.”

7 COMMENTS

  1. Unfortunate. The “we’ll get through this” isn’t particularly confidence inspiring, given the circumstances of late.

  2. Interesting that the same “vocal minority” that hysterically complain about town salaries and incompetence, and tax Town staff with endless requests for information to to try to prove their conspiracy theories, then blame departures on “mysterious” tensions. It’s unfortunate that this group has turned Moraga into a toxic work environment for Town staff. Shocker that talented people decide to take their talents elsewhere.

  3. @Danielle – Territorialist! Yes, there have been some rumblings over on this side of Glorietta – and we don’t think we have another sink hole percolating. Folks over here have waged pitched battles over everything from speed bumps to dog parks. Must be something in the water. We’re certain Chuck had something to do with it.

  4. didn’t they just give themselves large raises ~6-9 months ago? isn’t this textbook definition of pension spiking, i.e. these departures planned in advance?

  5. If the Moraga Town Council proactively got ahead of these stories by transparently issuing timely press releases instead of consistently withholding or providing incomplete information, speculation on reasons for these resignations and other events would be circumvented.

    Absent an official explanation, it seems quite reasonable to consider the resignations in a positive light: that after attaining the Town’s highest pay grade, valuable experience and/or a Director title, talented and/or motivated employees would seek a more interesting position, in a juridiction with greater resources and higher remuneration than little Moraga, California could ever provide. That’s how people move up in their profession, by getting experience and then new and better jobs with new employers. It could be as simple as that–nothing mysterious.

    This positive staff turnover explanation does not mitigate the accountability of Moraga Town Council members for the apparent governance chaos, negative sentiment and financial mismanagement. The last person to count on to fix these serious problems in the role of 2017-2018 Mayor is the incumbent Town Councilman of nearly 12 years who has presided over the long-term creation of the Town of Moraga’s financial distress.

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