Anaheim Insider here.
The exodus of talent and experience from Unstableheim City Hall continues as Assistant City Manager Kristine Ridge departs to become City Manager of Laguna Niguel. Ridge will take the reins of the South County city in January 2018.
Anaheim city government is a financially healthy, billion dollar enterprise in a city that is home to iconic Disneyland and the world-class Anaheim Resort; one of the largest and newest convention centers in the nation; and two major league sports franchises – the Angels and the Ducks. Plus, the city manager position is open. But the comparatively civil and normal atmosphere of bedroom community Laguna Niguel is a more attractive option.
That speaks volumes about the state of things in the City of Kindness.
The City of Laguna Niguel issued a press release yesterday announcing the Laguna Niguel City Council is expected to formally appoint Ridge to the position at its meeting this Tuesday (the Anaheim City Council also meets that night):
On Tuesday, November 21, 2017, the City Council of Laguna Niguel is expected to name Kristine Ridge as City Manager. This decision will conclude a nationwide executive recruitment search conducted by Dave Morgan of Ralph Andersen and Associates that resulted in attracting over 50 qualified applicants.
The City Manager implements the policies established by the City Council and has full management responsibility for all City services and activities. Kristine is uniquely poised to assume the top leadership position among City employees due to her demonstrated success in managing complex programs, extensive understanding of fiscal management, ability to manage large projects, and commitment to transparent government and continuous improvement. Kristine Ridge is currently the Assistant City Manager of Anaheim and is responsible for coordination of many municipal initiatives and providing executive supervision over a number of City departments. She serves as liaison for all major developments and oversees strategic planning and labor relations. Kristine began her career as an auditor, steadily gaining experience with appointments as City Auditor, City Treasurer, Finance Director, Human Resources Director and Deputy City Manager for the City of Anaheim.
“Kristine’s 29-year distinguished public service career, with the last 24 years in multiple high level positions with the City of Anaheim, as well as her talent for creating solutions will make her an outstanding City Manager for Laguna Niguel,” said Mayor Fred Minagar. “We know that Kristine will continue our City’s tradition of high quality service and commitment to conservative financial policies.”
“I’m honored to be given the opportunity to serve the City of Laguna Niguel,” said Kristine. “I look forward to working with the Mayor and City Council, City Departments, and the community. Laguna Niguel is truly a gem offering an exceptional quality of life for its residents and businesses, and I am excited to be a part of securing a bright future for this vibrant and attractive community. ”
Remember, Anaheim is (supposedly) recruiting for a permanent city manager and Ridge is and should be an obvious choice given she has greater breadth of operational and management experience than anyone else in Anaheim city government. Ridge’s departure is true testament to the dysfunction and low morale in Unstableheim City Hall in the era of “The People’s Council.”
As one City Hall insider put it: “A quarter century of institutional knowledge is walking away due to an environment under this mayor and his council allies that makes it impossible for an ethical, competent professional to do their job.”
Among other things, Anaheim is grappling with a severe homelessness crisis, and is in the midst of trying to implement the ambitious Operation Home S.A.F.E. program to reclaim city parks and the Santa Ana River Trail for their intended public recreation uses. In addition to her other duties, Ridge has been in charge of Anaheim’s homelessness initiatives.
It’s no exaggeration to say Ridge’s departure leaves a gaping hole in City Hall leadership. No other senior staffer comes close to her breadth of operational experience.
To recap, Anaheim City Hall is led by an:
- Interim City Manager
- Acting Police Chief
- Acting City Attorney
- Acting City Clerk
- Interim Deputy Planning Director
- Acting Human Resources Director
Now the city is losing its second-in-command and only top staffer without the qualifier “Interim” or “Acting” in front of his/her title.
Laguna Niguel has chosen wisely. Unstableheim becomes more unstable. The “People’s Council” is still trying to figure out what the people want.