Modesto city manager decision could come tonight

The view from Modesto Mayor Jim Ridenour's office on the 6th floor of 10th Street Place.
The view from Modesto Mayor Jim Ridenour's office on the 6th floor of 10th Street Place. Modesto Bee

The Modesto City Council could hire a city manager this evening. It also is scheduled to discuss the creation of a committee to draw up a districting plan for city elections.

Mayor Jim Ridenour said Monday that he hopes the council will vote on hiring a city manager during a closed session before the 5:30 p.m. open meeting. City leaders are considering two finalists, but Ridenour said he couldn't guarantee the council will make the decision.

Former City Manager George Britton retired in January after announcing his intent to retire more than a year ago. Jim Niskanen is the acting city manager.

The search for a new manager hit a snag in January when four of the top six candidates withdrew their applications. Council members evaluated other candidates and they are close to a decision.

Also, the City Council could approve bylaws and appointments for a nine- member commission that will come up with proposed boundaries for electing council members by district.

In February, city voters approved Measure N to elect City Council members by district starting in November 2009. The measure calls for the council to create a nine-member commission to draw up a districting plan, including district boundaries.

Niskanen said he expects that the council will work on the commission's bylaws this evening and approve appointments to the panel next week.

Measure N strongly recommended that the commission be composed of a retired Stanislaus County judge as chairman, one member from a local taxpayers association, a member of a nonpartisan political organization, a member from a civil rights organization, a former civil grand jury member, and other community members.

Mayor Jim Ridenour included a list of recommended appointees in a report for tonight's meeting. Listed as the possible chairman is retired Superior Court Judge Hugh Rose III. Other appointees could include Georgianna McDonald of the Stanislaus Taxpayers Association; Patricia Beyer of the League of Women Voters of Stanislaus County; Joan Clendenin, a former civil grand jury member; and community members Philip Anselmo Jr., Paul Schaefer, Maria Alvarez, Helen White and Francisco "Frank" Alvarez.

Niskanen said he didn't know the status of a civil rights organization appointee.

The tentative list will allow the council to consider the mayor's recommendations and eight others who applied: Henri Pollard, Don Jordan, Ted Rupert, Bruce Ramsey, William Mensing, Marsha Kidd, Noe Paramo and Dionicio Daniel Cruz.

Niskanen said the city could continue to take applications through Friday.

The commission will work on the districting plan for much of this year. The proposed plan will go through a hearing process in the first half of next year before it goes to the council no later than May 12, 2009.

The City Council will meet at 5:30 p.m. today in the council chamber at Tenth Street Place, 1010 10th St., Modesto.

Bee staff writer Ken Carlson can be reached at kcarlson@modbee.com or 578-2321.