Labor negotiations slow search for new city clerk

DOWNEY - One of these days, the city will have a new city clerk.The question is when? The city's human resources director, Irma Youssefieh, says it all depends on the results of the current labor negotiations between the city and the Public Safety Auxiliary Association which have been taking place behind closed doors. The association's membership consists of non-sworn safety support personnel, code enforcement specialists, dispatchers, records clerks, forensics specialists, parking control personnel, community services officer, communications operator, etc. The point at issue is the matter of pensions. Alternative formulations of a two-tiered retirement/pension structure - one applicable to current employees and another to new hires - have reached an impasse, Youssefieh said, and they'll be scheduling mediation. In the meantime, negotiations with the rest of the employee bargaining units all have reached satisfactory conclusions, she said. This means no more sleep-depriving hours of negotiations with the Downey City Employees' Association Maintenance Unit, the Downey Employees' Association Miscellaneous Unit, the Firemen's Association, the Downey Fire Management Association, the Police Management Association, the Downey Police Officers Management Association, and the Executive Management, Middle Management and Confidential/Exempt Unit Association. Many elements have of course factored into these negotiations. The major ones are past contract issue precedents, and current as well as estimated future economic conditions. The city obviously wants to go forward protecting its conservative fiscal position, while the unions want to obtain the best benefits package guesstimated government resources will allow. Meanwhile, Joyce Doyle continues bravely on as interim city clerk. It will be recalled that she was enjoined to again serve the city with the sudden firing early in the year of Kathleen Midstokke. Doyle had worked for the city for over 20 years, the last few years as deputy city clerk, and when she retired, she was looking forward to happy retirement including trekking the High Sierras. She expected her recall not to last long, but as weeks have turned into months, and not knowing what to expect, she says she has come to accept the turn of events and actually rediscovered the joys and satisfactions the job brings. She said she really enjoys the research, the paperwork, etc., that goes with the work of the office. "I find the job [of city clerk] very interesting. I find it a challenge, in fact," she said the other day. "I like working with the City Council. And I like the fact that I've reconnected with old friends, that the city folk have welcomed me back." To assist her, the city has in the meantime obtained the services of Adria Jimenez, just prior to coming to Downey the city clerk of the city of Los Alamitos, as a fulltime consultant. At this point, according to Youssefieh, Jimenez is going over operational issues and studying how they can be made more efficient and thus achieve administrative efficiencies, assisting Doyle with agenda matters, transcribing, preparing council minutes and those of the Community Development Commission, and otherwise helping Doyle run the busy city clerk office. Her contractual pay is $65/hour. Born and raised in, and still a resident of, Whittier, Jimenez is a graduate of Whittier High School, and obtained her bachelor's in public administration from the University of La Verne (with departmental and university honors). She plans on returning to school to obtain her master's. She has worked in the public sector for about 15 years. Jimenez spent the majority of her career in the city of Santa Fe Springs, where she held the position of secretary to the city manager and deputy city clerk for eight years. Here, she said, is where she first learned the intricacies of clerking and credits the city council and city manager for supporting her professional growth and giving her the opportunity to learn. Jimenez has also earned her Certified Municipal Clerk certification from the International Institute of Municipal Clerks, and is working towards becoming a Master Municipal Clerk. She says she is very excited for the opportunity to work in Downey. She is training to participate in a mini-triathlon in February 2012. She has two daughters, Alycia and Desiree.

********** Published: September 22, 2011 - Volume 10 - Issue 23