Tuesday, July 27, 2004
Deputy City Attorney Named Compton Interim City Manager
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The Compton City Council has named Compton Deputy City Attorney Cal Saunders as the new interim city manager.
Emerging from executive session on July 20, the City Council announced that Michael Heriot, who has served as city manager for more than a year, was terminated. The vote to replace Heriot was unanimous among voting council members. Councilman Isadore Hall abstained from the vote.
Saunders’ appointment is effective immediately.
“The city wanted someone with a legal background for the transition period and for several projects the city has on the drawing board,” Mayor Eric Perrodin said.
Perrodin also noted that Saunders enjoys close ties with the city employees’ union. He served on the executive board of the Compton Management Employees’ Board until being named interim city manager last week.
Saunders will serve in the position for the next several months while the city launches a search for a permanent city manager, Perrodin said. He estimated that the new manager will not be in place until after the April election.
In the meantime, Perrodin said, Saunders will be charged with submitting a revised city budget. The vote on the budget prepared by Heriot was tabled by the council pending the state passing its budget.
Saunders is a graduate of Hastings College of Law and was admitted to practice in 1975. He began his career as an attorney in the general counsel’s office of the Federal Communications Commission in Washington, D.C.
In 1983, Saunders returned to Los Angeles and went into private practice, specializing in criminal law and workers’ compensation. He joined the City Attorney’s office in 1992.
“This is a great responsibility and I have some tough decisions to make,” Saunders said. “I have to examine the structure of the city, from top to bottom.”
Part of his examination, Saunders said, will include speaking to all department heads, employee supervisors and members of the City Council.
Heriot, though out of a job, did not walk away empty-handed. His severance package is valued at more than $160,000 due to a nine month buy-out provision in his contract.
Heriot had served as Compton City manager since July 2003, when then-city manager John Johnson was indicted along with then-Mayor Omar Bradley. At the time he took over, Compton was in debt to the tune of nearly $8 million.
He became politically unpopular with city employees and union officials after laying off nearly 100 city employees to alleviate the deficit.
Copyright 2004, Metropolitan News Company