Lead Story West Edition

Compton seeks new city manager after Haley is fired

COMPTON — The search for a new city manager for the city of Compton is in full swing.

The city has been looking for someone to fill the executive level position since the Compton City Council voted to oust the last person that held the job — Roger Haley III — during a closed-door session at the July 27 City Council meeting.

City Councilwoman Janna Zurita said in an email that the City Council wants to move as quickly as possible in finding a new city manager.

“This is a top priority for the city,” she said.

The City Council voted 3-2 to fire Haley from the post he had held for nine months. Haley was hired last October to take the place of interim City Manager Johnny Ford, who held the job for over a year after Harold Duffey, who was fired from the job in September 2014.

Zurita would not say why the council decided to axe Haley, but after the closed-door session July 27, Compton City Attorney Craig Cornwell told the public the closed session involved three issues — a performance evaluation of the city manager, the issue of disciple/dismissal/release and the appointment of a city manager.

Cornwell stated “no reportable action” was taken in the matter on the performance evaluation subject. The lawyer then said there was a motion to release Haley. He said Zurita and councilmembers Tana McCoy and Emma Sharif voted to fire Haley and Councilman Isaac Galvan and Mayor Aja Brown voted not to fire Haley.

During the same meeting the City Council fired Haley, the governmental body announced to the public that it had hired Jerry Groomes effective immediately to take the city manager role on an interim basis.

Groomes, who has 40 years of city government experience including 18 years as a city manager of East Palo and Carson, will have a hand in choosing Compton’s next city manager, Zurita said. The council member said Groomes, who served as interim city manager in Bell last year, and the City Council have developed some criteria for the search of a new city manager.

“Mr. Groomes is one of the most experienced and respected city administrators in California,” Zurita said. “By bringing him on board, we believe we are making an important statement to our residents that we plan on bringing a higher degree of accountability and transparency to Compton city government.”

Zurita said the council must find an experienced city executive committed to improving the lives of all Compton’s residents.

“Our new city manager will help us focus on public safety — to ensure our residents feel safe; economic development to get more and better-paying jobs into our city; as well as the quality of life issues that Compton residents have told us are important to them,” she said. “Our streets need to be clean and well paved; our parks must be safe and well maintained.”

Zurita said public safety is the first thing the new city manager will need to address.

“Although crime in Compton has been going down in the past couple of years, the recent increase in violent crime must be addressed directly and quickly,” Compton’s District 1 representative said.

The city manager in Compton is responsible for the day-to-day administration of the city, including implementation of City Council ordinances and policies, oversight of 13 departments and the budget.

To the question of whether Compton’s revolving door of city managers will affect the applicant pool, Zurita said the right person for the position will recognize that Compton is making progress.

“We have started to make progress on several fronts — economic development, improving the quality of the lives of our residents and trying to make Compton safer,” she said. “But we’ve got serious challenges in front of us.”