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JOE JANIS AND TRICIA MADING, San Clemente
City managers are constantly on the move these days. According to the International City Management Association, the two most common reasons that managers give for leaving a city are a change in the makeup of the elected body that appointed them and political pressure. These reasons played a significant role in our manager’s departure.
City Manager James Makshanoff received an outstanding evaluation from our last council but found himself under extreme political pressure during the past year. A group of residents and one councilmember constantly questioned his past actions (actions that occurred while he was under the direction of a previous council).
A few activists attacked his character and his abilities at every council meeting. Social media was also used to discredit him.
Complaints about him became quite petty. At the Dec. 3 council meeting, Mayor Pro Tem Laura Ferguson publicly criticized him for allegedly attending an unpermitted event at one of our beaches.
She stated that a city permit is needed for any event (drawing) more than 20 people, and 31 people attended the event. She reminded him that he is not above the law; as it turned out, James was not at the gathering. No retraction of the allegation was offered.
Our group, Protect Our Neighborhoods, met with James many times during the formation of the Sober Living and Vacation Rental Ordinance. We found him to be approachable, honest and ethical in all of our meetings.
He and his staff were instrumental in writing the Short Term Lodging Ordinance. Consequentially, one of his main critics has been an ex-vacation rental owner who is a supporter of Ferguson. Coincidentally, she was the only councilmember who recently voted to allow a vacation rental to operate in one of our residential neighborhoods.
The average time a city manager stays with a city is four years. Political groups will continue to play major roles in our elections, and with the use of social media, they will create havoc for any elected member or manager who doesn’t agree with their views.
It’s a difficult job. We thank James for his service.