DOWNEY - In anticipation of the departure on Dec. 31, 2011 of Gerald Caton after a 22-year tenure as Downey city manager, the City Council on Tuesday authorized an amendment to his contract and a Memorandum of Agreement with assistant city manager Gilbert Livas to ensure a smooth and proper transition of power at the city's top administrative post.Mayor Anne Bayer complimented the two city administrators, Caton for his many stellar accomplishments over the years, highlighted by his steering of the city's purchase of the 160-acre former NASA site from the federal government and producing a harvest of productive venues and properties (the Downey Landing Retail Center, Downey Studios, Columbia Memorial Space Center, etc.), and Livas for his accumulated local government expertise gained from a series of high-profile employments in both private and public sectors, serving since 2007 as the city's community development director prior to his recent elevation to assistant city manager upon Lee Powell's retirement. Bayer explained the justification for the council's actions: "The council made a point to include succession planning as a top priority in last year's goals workshop. Succession planning is an important tool to reduce the risk of losing institutional knowledge, maintain business continuity, and keeping staff morale high through the managerial transfer of power." Thanking the City Council for the development, Caton said: "It has been my pleasure to serve as Downey's city manager for one-third of the city's history. Having a succession plan in place is very positive for our elected officials and employees. I know Gilbert will be an exceptional city manager for Downey." Livas, who will become the community's seventh city manager, remarked: "I am extremely honored to have the trust of all of the members of the City Council. I look forward to working with Mr. Caton for the remainder of his tenure and to providing leadership to our outstanding city management team." Livas, who was a partner in a redevelopment consulting firm and worked for the cities of Bell Gardens and Anaheim, holds a bachelor of arts degree from UCLA and a master's in public administration from CSU-Long Beach. He was recently offered positions as city manager in two neighboring cities, Caton said. When Caton retires at the end of next year, he will have served a total of 37 years in local government. It is believed that the agreed-upon amendment, involving Caton's release of certain severance benefits under the existing Employment Agreement with the City while the latter funds his family's health benefits for a 6-year period after he leaves office Dec. 31, 2011, may even potentially save the city about $365,000.
********** Published: March 26, 2010 - Volume 8 - Issue 49