Scott K. Pomrehn a good fit at City Hall

On his third anniversary with the city this April, Scott K. Pomrehn got an 'Outstanding' rating as assistant deputy city manager in eight of 10 performance categories, inclusive, from his boss, city manager Gerald Caton.Pomrehn joined the Downey city staff as assistant to the city manager on April 15, 2006 and, two years later, was given his new title and obviously an expanded role, along with a merit increase. He was rewarded with another one following his third performance evaluation last April. By Caton's, and by extension the city's, standards, Pomrehn had demonstrated exemplary expertise in the areas of planning/organization, quality/accuracy of work, participation, interpersonal skills, leadership behavior, reliability, initiative, skills and knowledge. Pomrehn could only achieve a "Meets/Exceeds Requirements' rating on the two criteria of follow-up and decision making, but perhaps this was just Caton's subtle way of saying nobody's perfect. Pomrehn has gone to Washington, D.C. with city council members on lobbying missions to fund projects, especially the Columbia Memorial Space Center, which has become a pet project of his; liaised and attended meetings with community service groups and subcommittees; coordinated on interdepartmental projects (including budget preparation, state-of-the-city, city goal sessions, various other Power Point presentations, etc.); and is otherwise responsible for and done a host of other activities on behalf of the city manager. But when you come right down to it, he says, his energies are focused on three core areas for which he has primary oversight-public information, Neighborhood Watch (which now numbers forty-four cells "and counting," says coordinator Juddy Ceniceros), and the aforementioned Columbia Memorial Space Center, which is due to open on Oct. 23. In Caton's evaluation, Pomrehn's handling of the 'Boil Water Order' brouhaha a while back was particularly commendable. Pomrehn says the press conference he uploaded to the Internet elicited some 4,000 hits and defused a potential crisis of confidence in the city (Caton: "Scott did a great job"). Caton also commended Pomrehn for "doing a nice job implementing the Council webcast system." As it turns out, Pomrehn, growing up in the early '70s (he was born in Long Beach on Oct. 6, 1966) was already computer-savvy even as a kid, having fooled around with the whole array of video games (Atari, etc.) and such, and was early on able to "diagnose, repair, and update" all the computers that demanded his attention. Indeed, having chosen public service as a career, he sees his role as helping people. As he goes about his duties, he says a chief motivation is customer service. A potential blockbuster development he's closely monitoring is the Tesla electric car project. Right now he is the bridge between the city and IRG on this one. He says he's getting nothing but positive vibes from the current negotiations. Needless to say, the project's implications for Downey are huge. It is apparent that Pomrehn is comfortable with issues and situations such as these. He has studied, seen and experienced them, in varying manifestations, in his prior employments. While still pursuing his master's in public administration at CSU-Long Beach, he started working as an intern in the small city of San Marino; not long after he moved up to a paid administrative assistant position, performing a "wide range of administrative and management-related tasks including budgeting, program oversight, and emergency preparedness activities." Definitely a high point in his stint with San Marino was his putting together of the city's budget, for which he got for the city its first "Award of Financial Reporting Achievement" presented by the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada. He then worked for the public works department of the city of Lakewood where as a senior management analyst, he did budgeting, contract administration, program and policy oversight and analysis, plus oversight of personnel, safety, and technology programs. It was also while with Lakewood that he experienced representing his department before the City Council, commissions, and other government agencies and boards. He therefore came to Downey prepared and capable of undertaking a host of local government tasks. As Caton commented in his evaluation report, "Scott is very knowledgeable about many aspects of local government." He's added crisis management to his range of interests. Raised in Westminster, Pomrehn developed a love of the ocean and excelled in swimming and water polo. His dad had a boat berthed at Balboa Island (yes, they usually passed by John Wayne's yacht), and he recalls "lots of summers" spent in Santa Catalina. Of course he was in Westminster High's swim and water polo teams: he is enshrined in its Sports Hall of Fame. In fact, after high school (while enrolled at CSU-Long Beach, where he majored in criminal justice) he was to coach Westminster High's swim and water polo programs for the better part of three years. For Pomrehn, it was a labor of love. His retired dad, Dr. Hugo Pomrehn, is a noted nuclear engineer who began his career in the headquarters of Admiral Hyman Rickover's nuclear Navy program; he was to serve four years in its Naval Reactors Group. Through the years Dr. Pomrehn was to work in a number of local and foreign assignments representing various private and government agencies, including Bechtel Corporation and the Tennessee Valley Authority. From1992 to 1994, on the nomination by President George H. W. Bush, he served as undersecretary of energy under energy secretary Admiral James Watkins (whose department employed some 17,000 federal and contractor personnel, with an annual budget of $20 billion). It was during one of his visits to his dad in Washington, D. C. that Pomrehn witnessed "the most wonderful July 4th celebration ever" while he was out in the mall. Pomrehn's parents were both graduates of USC and "thus I have been going to USC football and basketball games through the years," he says. His kindergarten teacher mom passed away in June last year. Part of his routine nowadays is a twice-a-week hike up in the San Gabriel mountains, Monrovia Canyon, along Mt. Wilson Trail, "in the local foothills, above Los Angeles." He cannot enjoy this activity today, of course, because of the conflagration that has affected the area. "But I still love the beach," he says, where he can enjoy body surfing and fishing. It was a remark made by his high school Spanish teacher, though, that to this day finds resonance with him still. On the first day of class, his teacher said: "I'm not here to teach you Spanish. I'm here to teach you how to learn." "My approach to life and career has grown from that remark," says Pomrehn. "To it I attribute my success in my studies and my attitude towards every task and every project before me. If I show initiative or am resourceful, which I probably consider my main strength, it's because of my Spanish teacher." As a dad himself, Pomrehn enjoys talking about his 17-year old daughter, Randi, who is a senior at Monrovia High and who has been riding horses since age three. Son Ryan, 20, attends Glendale Community College and is studying to be a pilot, while son Robbie, 14, is a freshman also at Monrovia High and very much into video games (like father, like son). Pomrehn's wife is a landscape architect. As most everyone is aware, there will be a lot of changes happening soon at City Hall, what with the imminent retirements of key administrative personnel. Soon there will be a changing of the guard. Pomrehn is probably the least worried person among city staff. He knows he's ready to learn whatever there is to learn, and meet any challenge that may come his way.

********** Published: September 4, 2009 - Volume 8 - Issue 20