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Tag: Eric Anderson


Tacoma: City staffers’ emails to Anderson after firing express sadness, thanks

At 6:51 p.m. on July 12, moments after the Tacoma City Council voted to fire him, then-City Manager Eric Anderson sent out a mass-distributed email to the city’s general government staff under the subject line, “Message to Employees.”

Anderson in happier times

In it, Anderson bid city staff farewell, thanking them for their “partnership over the last six years.”

He added:

I am proud of the work we have accomplished as a city during my tenure, such as reduction in crime, improvements in the neighborhoods, and that we have made it through the current economic crisis without a reduction in services to the residents who we serve.  I have complete trust that you will lead this organization in the years ahead as it continues to strive to reach the City Council’s strategic goals.  I am truly thankful to have been able to call Tacoma my home and to be part of a coproduction community that has worked toward solutions to the many challenges our City faces.

Anderson’s email drew a wave of responses, many of them expressing regret and sorrow for his firing and thanking him for his service and leadership.

“My heart is breaking,” city auditor Scottie Nix wrote. “Eric, you are one of the brightest, honorable, and greatest leaders in government. It has been the highest honor in my life to have worked for you.”

“To say this is shocking and unbelievable would be an understatement,” emailed Tory Green, the Fire Department’s Medical Services Officer.  “I am speechless.”

The emails, obtained by The News Tribune under a broader public records request submitted more than two months ago, were released on Friday. According to the city clerk’s office, they represent only the city’s first installment, with another batch of emails expected to be released in about a month.

Some of the emails to Anderson directly questioned the city council’s wisdom.

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UPDATED: Tacoma council members’ personal evaluations shed more light on Anderson’s firing

(UPDATE 11:41 a.m. )

If anything, they offer an unvarnished look into what individual council members’ really think about the job performance of former Tacoma City Manager Eric Anderson.


The performance evaluations of Anderson written by individual Tacoma City Council members — obtained this week by The News Tribune under the state’s public records law — mostly attach names to the criticisms and praise for Anderson, and provide insight into council members’ personal opinions about his overall performance.

Several of the opinions offered in the personal reviews are far more abrasive than those that ultimately appeared in the council’s official report card for Anderson made public last month.  Some of the criticisms didn’t appear in the report at all.

The official performance review — an anonymous, collaborative document essentially authored by all nine council members — represents a toned-down amalgamation of the individual evaluations. Mayor Marilyn Strickland served as the editor who pulled together the final document for the council, which unanimously adopted it later.

Still, even the subdued evaluation presented publicly last month provided more varied and harsher criticism of Anderson than ever before during his six year run as Tacoma’s chief administrator.  (We previously wrote about the review of Anderson’s work over the past year here.) It provided the basis for the council’s 6 to 2 vote to terminate Anderson’s employment with the city.

During the council’s consideration on whether to extend Anderson’s contract, those voting to oust him largely offered generalizations and platitudes, saying Anderson had served Tacoma well, but the city is heading in a new direction.

But some of their personal criticisms seem to tell a different story.

Some opinions seemingly de-emphasized in the final evaluation were strongly worded criticisms by Jake Fey, Ryan Mello and David Boe, all of whom generally described Anderson as having an overly controlling nature that left staff members afraid to speak out and other government agencies and private businesses and developers frustrated to work with the city.

Written evaluations from Boe, Victoria Woodards and Spiro Manthou do not include their names. But Boe said today his anonymity on the review form wasn’t intentional; he and other members directly submitted the forms as part of the collaborative evaluation process, he said.

“I wrote those to inform my fellow council members, not really for public consumption,” Boe added.  “If we write them as if they are for public consumption, we might not write them with the same intensity.  So, I just answered them straight up.”

Now that the records are public, “I’m not going to say they’re not mine,” Boe said.

In her own evaluation of Anderson, Strickland largely stuck up for the city manager’s work,  at one-point even criticizing some of her fellow council members for criticizing him:

“At times, it feels as though some council members forget that Tacoma has a City Manager form of government, try to play `gotcha’ with the City Manager and sometimes get bogged down in process instead of focusing on ideal outcomes for the city,” she wrote.

The News Tribune obtained the personal evaluations under a public records request to the city. City Attorney Elizabeth Pauli initially withheld the records, citing an exemption from disclosure for “draft”  records. But Pauli later agreed to disclose the records after the TNT appealed, based on legal advice from Tim Ford, Open Government Ombudsman for the Washington Attorney General’s Office.

To read the full 70-pages of records, including members’ personal drafts and evaluations of Anderson, click  here.  Here are some examples of the more opinionated criticisms that were either toned down, revised or edited out of the final evaluation for Anderson:

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Tacoma prepares for city manager search

Tacoma is about to start its search for a new city manager.

Staff in the city personnel office are finishing up a request for bids from search firms that could go out today.

The search is expected to start in August and cost as much as $50,000, Human Resources Director Joy St. Germain told the council, which hopes to wrap it up by the end of the year.

To find managers in the past, Tacoma has turned to such national headhunters as Arcus Public and Waters-Oldani Executive Recruitment Group.

The city could have chosen to do the search for Eric Anderson’s replacement in-house, but council members and St. Germain said a national firm would do a better job.

“These firms specialize in hiring people, and they know who’s out there, and they know who will be a good fit for the city,” Mayor Marilyn Strickland said, “and so I think it’s important for us to make sure that we  cast a wide net and have an opportunity to get the best person here.” Read more »


Ex-city manager Eric Anderson will walk away with year’s salary

Eric Anderson will receive $261,107 for being dismissed from his job as Tacoma city manager.

The city council declined to renew Anderson’s contract. But even though his contract ran out Friday, the city still owes him severance pay equal to a year’s salary: $235,373.

That’s in addition to the vacation time Anderson accumulated — about 26 days, or $23,924 — and two days of holiday pay or $1,811.

Those are the terms of his contract, which originally called for one-and-a-half years worth of severance pay. That was decreased to coincide with a 17 percent pay raise for Anderson — a

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Tacoma: City Council ends Anderson’s employment; Arellano named interim city manager

Saying it’s time for new leadership to take Tacoma into a new era, the City Council on Tuesday voted against renewing the contract of City Manager Eric Anderson, effectively ending his six-year tenure come Friday.


Then, after voting 6 to 2 against bringing Anderson back, the council unanimously appointed Deputy City Manager Rey Arellano as interim city manager. Arellano, a retired Navy officer hired by Anderson in 2006, takes over as the city’s chief administrator effective Saturday.

“Making a decision like this is never easy,” Mayor Marilyn Strickland said, before casting her vote against extending Anderson’s contract.

Joining Strickland to vote down the resolution to renew an 18-month employment extension for Anderson were Council Members David Boe, Marty Campbell, Jake Fey, Ryan Mello and Victoria Woodards.

Members Joe Lonergan and Lauren Walker voted in favor of extending Anderson’s employment. Councilman Spiro Manthou, now recovering after recent heart surgery, was absent.

Anderson, 65, did not attend Tuesday’s meeting. Earlier Tuesday, he informed his senior staff that his future employment was in jeopardy. As the council talked through it’s decision Tuesday, a few city staff members cried.

In a prepared statement issued Tuesday night, Anderson called his six years as Tacoma’s chief administrator “a privilege.”

“I am proud of the work we have accomplished as a city during my tenure, such as the reduction in crime, improvements in the neighborhoods, and that we have made it through the current economic crisis without a reduction in services to the residents who we serve,” the statement said.

“I am comfortable that I leave the City in a good financial position and I look forward to my future endeavors.”

The city will conduct a nationwide search for Anderson’s replacement; details of the search have yet to be formalized, city spokesman Rob McNair-Huff said.

In the meantime, Arellano will fill in as city manager. After completing 22 years in the Navy, Arellano most recently served as deputy city manager and chief information officer in San Diego, Calif.  He made $174,304 last year, as Anderson’s deputy.

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Tacoma: City Council keeps mum about Anderson’s contract

Tacoma’s City Council is keeping mum so far today about its recent critical performance review of City Manager Eric Anderson and what actions they expect to take tonight when the council considers renewing Anderson’s employment contract.

In a brief email this morning, Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland said she is withholding comment.

“I am not making any comments about the CM’s evaluation and contract extension until tonight’s council meeting,” the mayor wrote.

Deputy Mayor Lauren Walker said Monday she doesn’t expect the contract renewal to be an issue. But several other council members haven’t returned phone calls over the past

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UPDATED Tacoma: Council’s report card gives Anderson mixed reviews, as contract extension nears

(6:40 p.m. Update at end of post)

Tacoma City Manager Eric Anderson won praise for his budgeting skills, staff recruitment and a strong understanding of how state and federal issues relate to the city, according to his latest report card from Tacoma City Council.


“The (City Manager) still remains highly capable of managing the budget during challenging economic times,” the evaluation says.

But council members also criticized Tacoma’s chief administrator for failing to develop a clear economic development plan for the city, and at times, for keeping them in the dark about significant city issues.

“There is major concern about economic development leadership by the City Manager and at the Senior Management level,” the evaluation states.

The city manager’s 2011 performance evaluation, which covers Anderson’s work from July of last year to the present, is a collaborative but anonymous document that incorporates critiques submitted from all nine of the city’s elected council members.

Commentary at times was mixed, even contradictory, providing Anderson with a range of feelings about his performance in six major categories. The council’s current evaluation provides only written feedback; a point-ranking system was dropped two years ago.

(We’ll have more details tomorrow. In the meantime, here’s the full report card.)

Required under the city’s charter, the evaluation is a precursor to city policymakers’ decision of extending Anderson’s contract, which expires this month.

The council is set to consider an 18-month extension for Anderson at Tuesday’s regular meeting, but questions linger about what might happen.

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Tacoma: Ethics complaint against city manager dismissed

Tacoma’s citizen Board of Ethics has dismissed a complaint against City Manager Eric Anderson, finding “no facts have been shown” to establish any real or apparent violation of the city’s ethics code.

The complaint against Anderson — filed by local gadfly John Hathaway — alleged a conflict-of-interest  over Anderson’s volunteer ties to a nonprofit retirement corporation and a city committee’s recent decision to contract with the same firm to handle an employee pension plan.

The city’s Deferred Compensation Committee sought to award a single-vendor contract with the International City/County Management Association Retirement Corporation to handle the city workers’

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