May 19, 2010

Gary Pokorny to retire as city manager later this year

In an email sent out to city employees this afternoon, Gary Pokorny announced he would be retiring later this year. Pokorny has been with the city for 10 years and was appointed city manager in 2006.  Before becoming city manager, he was the director of the Arts, Recreation and Community Services department.

UPDATE: Pokorny says that despite budget challenges ahead, he believes that "overall things are going right" in Walnut Creek. In place, he says,  is "the strongest management team I've ever worked with. The executive team is a dynamite team."

Pokorny says he just turned 68, and personally felt it was the right time to do other things. He hasn't set his exact departure date--late October or early November--and he has no big plans for what he'll do once he leaves the city, other than to go on a six-week vacation to New Zealand with his wife and friends.  

Meanwhile, here is the letter he sent to city employees:
Good Afternoon,  
For the past ten years, I have had a series of challenging and interesting jobs in the City of Walnut Creek. It has been my pleasure to come to know you and to appreciate the unique contribution each of you makes toward building a community that is such a great place to work, live, and visit. You have made coming to work each morning something special that energizes and excites me.
 It is, therefore, with very mixed feelings that I am writing to let you know that I will be retiring as City Manager of Walnut Creek late this year. I have shared this information with the City Council and they are beginning, immediately, a search and selection process for a new City  Manager.
This is my 36th year in public management in four cities in three states. I can say with sincerity and honesty that being a part of the Walnut Creek team and community is the most satisfying job I have ever had.
In solid partnership with the community we have accomplished much over the years. We should all be proud of our accomplishments.
Significant challenges lie ahead in the current difficult economic environment. We are not unique or alone in facing these challenges. But, we are special in the way we deal with such situations. Based on our past track record, I am confident that the Walnut Creek team will meet these challenges with creativity, energy, and excellent results.  
The support my family and I have had from thoughtful and caring City Council members, from hard-working, dedicated city staff members, and from hundreds of involved and supportive individuals and organizations in our community over the past decade has been gratifying. Thank you.
I trust that I will have time, between now and November, to thank each of you personally for your dedicated work and support. In the meanwhile, thanks for making me one very lucky and blessed person.
According to the September/October 2006 issue of In the Nutshell, the city's newsletter, Pokorny was appointed interim city manager by the City Council following the resignation of Mike Parness on August 3, 2006. 

Pokorney was previously city manager with El Cerrito (1989-2000), Corvallis, Oregan (1978-1988), and Sioux City, Iowa (1975-78). He has been with the city since 2000.

Pokorny is a native of Howells, Nebraska, and has bachelor’s and masters degrees from the University of Nebraska and additional graduate work in government and public administration in Ithaca, New York.


obiwan said...

Great scoop Soccer Mom. The CC Times website has nothing on this. Thanks for keeping us informed!!!

AKA Soccer Mom said...

A reader alerted me to this news. So, we have that reader to thank for sharing this news with us.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the savings from his salary can fund some of program cuts.

I'm afraid to ask but what do you folks think will his retirement checks look like?

Anonymous said...

His retirement check will look like the one he has earned ... get a life teabaggers!

Anonymous said...

He was hired to see the Council's sacred cow, the WC Behemoth Library, through to the end, after former CM Parness was fired when he told the Council it was too big, too expensive, and WC couldn't afford such a thing. He has done the Council's wishes like a good boy. The Library will open this summer, and his job is done, nevermind the 50+ city jobs sacrificed in the wake of the Library. Funny how things work. The Council will be sure to hire another one who dare not think independently...

Vote out the incumbents--all of them!

Anonymous said...

He probably won't want to drive all the way from his home in El Cerrito now to visit his 50 million dollar library. Gee whiz. What a shame. Spend 50 million, and leave with the biggest pension in the organization. Who says Mr. Pokorny doesn't know what he's doing?

Anonymous said...

Dear 7:22 pm,

What is it with you and the Teabaggers? And How do you relate concern over public employee retirement checks to these people you seem to hate so much?

It might be best if you took your own advice about getting a life if you have nothing interesting or intelligent to add to the discussion.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations Gary.

Good work!

Sorry you are leaving but you did a fine job.

a majority citizen

Anon 7:22 said...

Dear 10:13

I don't hate you and your fellow teabagger. I'm just tired of reading each and every entry here to go down the "we pay too much tax" path.

No matter what it is, a civic engaged high school student a retiring city employee at age 68, local teachers etc. it is always about money in these discussions.

In contrast just have a look at the 11:04 entry, this is what I find a normal and appropriate reaction.

I know that the economic times are tough for all the communities around here. But I also know that our tax burden has never been lower in history than it is today.

I'm just not willing to sacrifice my community to the battle cry of lower taxes. Particularly because the goal of people like Grover Norquist clearly is to use this mantra to dismantle our government.

Norquist is the author of "Leave Us Alone: Getting the Government's Hands Off Our Money, Our Guns, Our Lives" who famously said: "I don't want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub."

Jojo Potato said...

Mr. Pokorny was one of the city managers who recently warned of the burden of pensions on local governments as reported 5/9 in Daniel Borenstein's column in the CC times. Interesting reading, quote:

"To understand the effect, consider pension costs for current police officers in Pokorny's own city, which has above-average retirement payments. In 1999-2000, he says, for every $100 the city paid a cop in salary, it contributed $12 toward the officer's pension. The current number is $39. And by 2014-15, it's expected to reach $48.

In addition, there is an "employee share," $9 for every $100 of income. However, many cities have agreed to pay most of that as well. In Walnut Creek's case, the city picks up the entire tab. Thus, Pokorny says, the city is on a course to pay four years from now $57 into police pensions for every $100 of salary."

I highly recommend interested parties read the whole article.

Anonymous said...

While we may not have agreed on everything, Gary Pokorny was approachable and cared about this City. He works for the elected City Council and had to follow their directives after making his opinions known. Its a reality of WC politics and of other cities, you get what you voted for on the council and the options for voters have unfortunately been very limited.

Anonymous said...

He will not be missed, even though the thought of Lori Tinfoe as the new city manager is even a scarier thought.

Anonymous said...

Ya well it really doesn't help that one can get elected with 14% of the vote. (*cough* Cindy) The at-large nature of the council no longer fits. The alternating 2 top / 3 top vote getters sucks.

Anonymous said...

Anon 2:44 said "Ya well it really doesn't help that one can get elected with 14% of the vote."

That is a blatant lie.

Cindy Silva got over 11,000 votes out of 43,000 registered voters. And, the turnout wasn't anywhere close to 100%. Sue Rainey got over 13,000 votes.

Interested viewers can check this on the County Board of Elections website, from which these nembers are copied:

21.95% 8,748
15.79% 6,294
34.14% 13,610
28.12% 11,209
City of Walnut Creek Treasurer

socrates said...

Hey 4:29 "Cindy Silva got over 11,000 votes out of 43,000 registered voters. And, the turnout wasn't anywhere close to 100%."

Pay attention now

That total percentage is not out of registered voters as you try to state, its actual votes so silva got 28% (11,209 out of 39,861 votes cast) of the actual votes cast. Which while different from 2:44's number is still pretty weak.

So what does the turnout have to do with your numbers? Oh nothing just blatant lipstick on a pig.

Anonymous said...

Where are Bronson and Henik now a days? Will they run again in 2010? Would they have a chance?

Anonymous said...

I would hope that both Bronson and Henik will run again, and that voters would use more intelligence this time...

Anonymous said...

Jake Bronson and his wife retired up near Grass Valley. Sol Henik is now living in Martinez.

HELP! Somebody please find some respectable and sensible thinking competition for Rainey and Silva in November.

Fresh ideas are sorely needed in this fair city.

Anonymous said...

WC gets what it votes for. The Status Quo.

If the whiners want to change it, then Change It.


Anonymous said...

11:05 am,

"Fresh ideas are sorely needed in this fair city."

As 6:50 sort of suggested, "bring it on".

It's one thing to complain and another to propose solutions in public and receive the acclamation of the public by being elected.

There are people that are very qualified by experience and intelligence to present themselves for election to the Walnut Creek City Council. It will be interesting to see what transpires.

Anonymous said...

The City of Walnut Creek lost some of its very best employees so that Gary Pokorny could have this Library built. During the whole debate, Pokorny was making over $250,000.00 per year. Although he claims pensions are breaking municipalities, he did not hesitate to keep his.

You be the judge.

By the way, Voters repeatedly voted against measures to fund this library...

Joan said...

So much helpful data for me!