Grand Terrace City Council eliminates Berry as city manager candidate
Stephen Wall, Staff Writer
Posted: 07/15/2009 04:31:55 PM PDT
GRAND TERRACE - After more than three hours of closed-door discussions, the City Council on Tuesday night decided that Steve Berry will remain as the acting city manager until the city concludes its recruitment for a permanent city manager.
Berry, however, will not be hired as the permanent city manager, the council said.
"The council believes it is in the best interest of the city to limit the recruitment to outside candidates only to give a fresh perspective to the organization," according to a motion approved by the council.
The motion passed 4-0, with Councilwoman Bea Cortes abstaining.
"I had difficulties with the motion," Cortes said Wednesday. "Therefore, I felt I couldn't make a decision. That's all I can say."
Other council members said they could not elaborate on the reasons for their decision because of legal issues related to employee confidentiality.
Allegations recently surfaced that Berry embezzled city funds and filed false records in connection with a window-tinting arrangement involving a county jail inmate in 2002, according to sheriff's reports.
The inmate, John Carranza, was doing landscaping work for the city as part of his work release.
Berry is suspected of having Carranza and employees from his window-tinting business tint the windows of city buildings and Berry's personal vehicle in 2002 for profit when Carranza was supposed to be performing community service.
Berry said Carranza did not profit from his work for the city and did not tint the windows of his car.
No criminal charges were filed against Berry and he was not disciplined at the time.
Former City Manager Tom Schwab said he chose not to discipline Berry, who was then assistant city manager, to avoid bringing embarrassment to the city.
Berry became acting city manager in June 2008 after Schwab was hospitalized with a brain injury.
Berry declined to comment on the council's decision to not consider him for the permanent city manager's job.
At Tuesday's meeting, he noted several accomplishments in the city over the past year, including the opening of the new senior housing complex and approval of a balanced budget.
"I've devoted the last eight years of my life to Grand Terrace," said Berry, who was hired as assistant city manager in 2001. "I look forward to the opportunity to move this city forward."
The city has received applications from nine candidates for the city manager's job, City Attorney John Harper said Tuesday. Applications are due Aug. 17. The council is expected to appoint a city manager in the fall.
The Reporter failed to add that Tom Schwab admitted that he asked the Sheriff not to give the report to the DA's Office as there was an election under way... he didn't want the scandal to bother the election or be an embarrassment. He obstructed a criminal investigation and then held this over the head of Berry for all these years. He allowed others to participate in the cover up as every person interviewed in the case should have brought the questions to the attention to the City Council Members but for some reason or under some pressure of some sort they neglected to do so... as every Council Member claims not to have been informed of the issue until it appeared in the Real News Papers the Sun and the Press.