Tacoma’s former long-time city manager Ray Corpuz has been named city manager of Salinas, Calif. And his appointment was the subject of some controversy centering around his record in Tacoma.
The Californian reports that in a closed-door session Saturday, the Salinas City Council voted 4-3 to hire Corpuz to run the municipal government of the city of 150,000. Corpuz has been manager in the smaller nearby city of Seaside, where he landed after being ousted from Tacoma in 2003.
That was the year when former Police Chief David Brame fatally wounded his estranged wife Crystal, then killed himself, touching off a municipal building meltdown. Corpuz took the blame for Brame’s mismanagement of the Police Department and for not doing enough to investigate and intervene following reports of Brame’s domestic violence.
Those headlines followed Corpuz to Seaside and now Salinas, where his appointment divided the council and the community, according to the Californian’s coverage.
Most of the 18 speakers at a public hearing before Saturday’s vote, “advised against the hiring of Corpuz,” favoring Acting City Manager Jim Pia, a longtime city employee. But others point to Corpuz’s strong reputation for economic development that he earned in Tacoma.
“So, Mr. Corpuz isn’t very likeable – so what?” Salinas businessman Ricky Cabrera said. “This isn’t supposed to be a popularity contest. He got a lot of great things done in Tacoma and I think that’s what we should be focusing on.”
Indeed, Corpuz’s supporters point to his role in establishing a light rail system, three museums and a $120 million convention center in Tacoma during his tenure there. They also noted Corpuz’ role in cleaning up and rehabilitating the city’s severely polluted waterfront area.
The Salinas council has yet to decide a salary and benefits package for Corpuz.
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