Rick Daniels Fills Public Works Director Position with Rudy Acosta On Daniels’ Last Day On His Job As City Manager
DESERT HOT SPRINGS, CA – The city personnel shuffle continues with an outgoing city manager filling a key city hall position on his last day in office. It is a position that would normally be left to an incoming city manager to fill.
Not content to let incoming City Manager Bob Adams fill the position of public works director, however, outgoing City Manager Rick Daniels with just a day left on the job as Desert Hot Springs city manager went ahead and filled the director of public works position.
The position was left open with the resignation last week of Hal Goldenberg.
In what is considered an odd move for an outgoing city manager, Rick Daniels did not leave the position for incoming Bob Adams to fill but instead gave the position to long-time associate Rudy Acosta.
Rudy Acosta was hired by Daniels shortly after he began as city manager and served as the city’s redevelopment agency director. When the State of California eliminated Redevelopment Agencies last year, Acosta was shuffled over to supervise construction of the Health and Wellness Center. When that job was completed in January, Acosta was again shuffled to make-work assignments to keep him on the city payroll.
A public works director position is typically filled by someone with an engineering degree or at least an strong engineering background. While Acosta has a long resume in as a government employee, none is in a position involving engineering and public works. Shortly after Acosta was hired, Goldenberg was hired to replace public works director Jonathon Hoy, a licensed engineer, who was exited by Daniels.
It is not known why Hal Goldenberg resigned but he did not have an engineering credential, public works or municipal government experience prior to be handed the public works director job in Desert Hot Springs, a position with a top salary of $140,000 a year. Goldenberg previously worked in the housing construction industry.
Hal Goldenberg joins a gaggle of other employees who have already left the city.
The Jumping Ship Shuffle
The city still remains without a Director of Finance after the resignation of Terrence Beaman in June. Beaman was proceeded by former finance director Jason Simpson who quit to go to work for the city of San Bernardino and was replaced by Beeman – who was working for the city of San Bernardino. Beeman shuffled over, lasted just a couple months, then resigned as budget numbers showing a large deficit were being released. The finance director position is being filled on a temporary basis by Amy Aguar.
Rick Daniels shuffles over to a position in Needles, California as its city manager, a position that will pay him $2,000 more per year than he earned in Desert Hot Springs. He will also receive $10,000 a year increases in each of the next three years of his Needles contract. Daniels salary was lowered from $217,000 to $195,000 in a city belt tightening move in June, 2013.
Goldenberg Created Antagonism
Hal Goldenberg has suffered a few run-ins with citizens over issues of public works; most recently the unusual issuing of permits for the Skyborne Mine. Goldenberg’s rubber stamp circumvented the normal procedure of Planning Commission and City Council review. This shut out all forms of public review. Goldenberg’s move helped the housing-developer-turned-surface-mine-operator avoid sanctions from a state board that oversees mining.
With an abrasive manner that too frequently created antagonism, Goldenberg was often argumentative when confronted by members of the public struggling with the normal variety of city public works problems.
Rudy Acosta also has a history of irritating Desert Hot Springs residents. It is Acosta who bears responsibility for the creation of nefarious Traffic Tangling Triangles in the city downtown that are constantly causing bent rims, destroyed tires and towing bills for dozens of unsuspecting motorists every year.
The unusual triangles, which interrupt the gutter, also cause flooding to the downtown stores which now have to be sandbagged during rainstorms. Restoration of triangle planter landscaping damaged by the engineering nightmare is now a Public Works budget item pegged at $5,000 per occurrence.