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Former MV city manager helps deliver city of Bell from scandal

Original post made on Aug 18, 2011

Mountain View's widely respected former city manager Kevin Duggan has found a new calling after retirement, and it includes helping to turn things around in the scandal-ridden city of Bell.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, August 18, 2011, 12:01 PM

Comments (21)

Posted by Observer, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Aug 18, 2011 at 12:13 pm

Retire on the public dime and then go back to work. I'd respect him more if he either stayed retired or turned down his State retirement until he was actually retired. Otherwise, this is just pure double-dipping. As far as working on cleaning up the city of Bell, does anyone find it a little odd that Duggan, one of the highest paid city managers around, might not be the best choice for sending a message about over-paid public employees?

Posted by Steve, a resident of Sylvan Park
on Aug 18, 2011 at 1:35 pm

Excellent choice for Bell. Duggan has vast experience with overpaid and underworked city staff. Maybe Bell needs a new city attorney too, we have a recently retired one with equally questionable values.

Posted by outraged, a resident of Blossom Valley
on Aug 18, 2011 at 2:16 pm

Double dipper!!!

Posted by Hardin, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 18, 2011 at 3:21 pm


Double dipping refers to retiring from a government agency, gaining the retirement benefits thereof and then resume working for that same government agency, either as a direct employee or as a consultant in the same line of business.

In this case, Mr. Duggan is doing neither of these things. His work for the International City / County Managers Association has a peripheral relationship to the City of Mountain at best, nor is he drawing any money from the City for his efforts. Also, most of what he is doing is high level coordination utilizing his established network and business contacts, to assist in a very well publicized case in the City of Bell. Little of what he is doing is direct involvement. We would all do well to stay as active and involved after retirement.

In summary, you guys are way out in left field on this one. Under your definition of double dipping, Mr. Duggan wouldn't be able to legally serve Slurpies at the local 7-11.

Posted by Honor Spitz, a resident of another community
on Aug 18, 2011 at 3:46 pm

Kevin Duggan set a new standard of excellence in the world of city management, and I hope that that will not be forgotten. Mountain View came to life and hummed along as never before under his reign.

Posted by @Hardin, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Aug 18, 2011 at 4:27 pm

You hit the nail on the head. Of course, there will be no convincing the sour-grapes, naysaying crowd like @Observer and @outraged.

Duggan performed his job honorably and at the top of his profession for years. His expertise is badly needed in Bell and elsewhere. They're lucky they have the opportunity to benefit from his expertise.

Posted by Doug Pearson, a resident of Blossom Valley
on Aug 18, 2011 at 8:17 pm

I'm with Hardin and Honor Spitz. Duggan did a fine job as City Manager of Mountain View, his new job is nothing at all like double dipping, and he has done Bell a lot of good by helping them find the right people to be their city manager.

Posted by Observer, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Aug 18, 2011 at 8:38 pm

Hardin, you missed my point. Duggan announced he was retiring. He can only retire at his early age because of the generous package he arranged for himself, presumably so he could retire. Or did he do it so he could retire early, at a much earlier age than most Americans, and then go out and earn even more money while collecting his same salary? There's a difference, and you haven't either noticed it or addressed it. Public employees should be forced to work to age 65 or 67 like every other American expecting a paycheck every month for retirement. Instead they all collude to build retirement packages to allow them to retire at 50 or 55, and then go out and get another job based on their experience at a still prime working age, and all the while they are covered by the taxpayers. I've got no problem with someone retiring like that early on a plan that's not on the taxpayer's back to the extent that Duggan has. What I've got a problem with is the built feeling of entitlement that upper-level public employees have when it comes to retirement at an early age. Retirement for them is a way to boost their income once they've maxed out their pay scale at the public level. The same old strategy is to announce your earlier-than-the-average-American retirement and then wax and wane melancholic about all you've got planned by way of not working in retirement, and then when the paint hasn't even dried in the old parking spot named for the new guy, announce your "new" retirement plans. I'm willing to bet you I could find a great many people who could have gone down to Bell, CA to straighten out that city. All that is really required is someone with common sense and a broom. Next thing you know we will be sending Mountain View's last sorry excuse of an ex-Superintendant down there to straighten out the LA schools!. This is nothing more than an old boys club. Or are you so naive to believe that such clubs don't exist? Wake up and smell the coffee.

Posted by Joe Smith, a resident of North Whisman
on Aug 19, 2011 at 6:46 am

The City Of Mountain View is a great city and Duggan gets ALOT of the credit. I believe for every 6000 residents there is 1 city employee whereas Palo Alto has one city employee for every 2600. Mountain View is a better run city than Palo Alto and that doesn't happen without competent management.

I realize in this economy alot of people are focused on state employee compensations. Fine but don't forget the really over sized compensation the CEOs at high tech firms get from boards they have loaded with their cronies.

Posted by Hardin, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 19, 2011 at 7:16 am

@Observer and et al who are disatisfied with Mountain View government performance...

What are you smoking?!?!

A job in the public sector may have differences with those in the private sector, but at the end of the day, its just a job, not indentured servitude.

Irrespective of the misgivings I have about public employee compensation, health benefits, and public union contracts, this does not negate the fact that there are many high performing people in government that do their job extremely well. Mountain View is fortunate to have a high concentration of these types of folks. If we were measure Mr. Duggan's performance on the job, like we would any leader in a private corporation, it would be based on the results they achieved, of which Mr. Duggan has many.

Or to put it more plainly, there is a world of difference in classifying Mr. Duggan as a "double dipper" and poor administrator, as compared to the previous administration that ran the City of Bell.

It's my belief that those who cannot make this distinction, have allowed their bias and ideology to cloud their judgement.

Posted by Observer, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Aug 19, 2011 at 8:09 am

Again, top level public employees have engineered their retirement packages so they can retire in their 50s and go out into the world and make even more money with a generous taxpayer-funded security blanket wrapped around them! More often than not, they go into even more public-funded public service following such retirement. And oh BTW I've got nothing against them deferring their taxpayer funded retirements while they seek bigger and more profitable professional challenges. If such a policy were enacted, you can bet that many would feel just great working into their mid-60s whereby cities, schools and fire and police departments could still benefit greatly and from their years of experience and much less cost. And what private CEOs do is another matter completely. You can boycott banks and Walmart if you've got a problem with their CEO compensation. Duggan pretends to dance to a different tune while he keeps singing to tell us he just wants to retire. I'm tire of that song and dance. As far as your indentured servitude comment, take a look at the retirement plans, rules and regulations regarding the bulk of public servants, teachers for instance, who can't even dream about retiring at an early age with the generous benefits that guys like Duggan or City Attorneys or Superintendents or Police and Fire chiefs have swindled the taxpayer for. Again, its the old boys club, still mostly white boys, but with age of the club somewhere in the 50s, with membership fees paid by the taxpayer!

Posted by Steve, a resident of Sylvan Park
on Aug 19, 2011 at 8:12 am

We're all very proud of Mountain View Government performance! City Hall is doing really well for itself. Under Duggan's direction, city staff has created an extremely powerful empire.
Unfortunately they've forgotten they're here to serve the citizens, not themselves. Let's hope our new city manager will remember the little people.

Posted by ann, a resident of another community
on Aug 19, 2011 at 9:01 am are so right on....keep spreading the word.....

Posted by Hardin, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 19, 2011 at 9:23 am

Methinks there is a section of the population who feels Mountain View City government is substandard.

As a mental exercise, lets assume for a moment this to be the case. I would challenge those folks to point out a city of similar size, climate, education, demographics and industrial/commercial base in this country that does it better...

To be sure, Mountain View has its issues that require improvement, but its certainly in the upper percentile when it comes to well running cities.

If you are unable to identify another city, let me suggest that you've been spoiled by the level of performance you have been receiving from this city, and have little idea what "bad" governance actually looks and feels like.

It's like complaining that your new 60" flat panel 3D television is just too big to fit in your current entertainment center.

Posted by Get-a-clue, a resident of Castro City
on Aug 19, 2011 at 9:51 am

Observer you need to get a clue and stop drinking the media kool-aid! While I do believe there is some truth to your "words of wisdom" it does not apply to Duggan and his 20+ years of service in the City of Mountain. While most cities are in financial ruin and cutting jobs, the city of MV is doing very well even with revenues down in the city thanks to the leadership of Duggan. His salary and retirement benefits as with all public employees are negotiable through the city council designated negotiating team or the city council themselves. You can also thank the State Legislators for the benefit package of public employees. Duggan is an employee just like the rest of the cities employees who is taking advantage of his education and years of successful experience. You also have a rigliking do the same. If you walked in a business today and was offered 150k salary and a retirement at 50, would you take it or negotiate down? I wouldn't blame you or anyone else for taking what was offered especially if you were excellent at your job. It's sounds like there is a little "Hater-aid" in that Kool-aid you're drinking!

Posted by Steve, a resident of Sylvan Park
on Aug 19, 2011 at 3:40 pm

No dispute, Mtn View has a well run government. The question is: run toward what end? Currently, city hall works for the best interests of city staff, and ignores its citizens. Thank Duggan's policies, thank city council lack of oversight.

Posted by Hardin, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 19, 2011 at 7:17 pm

"Currently, city hall works for the best interests of city staff, and ignores its citizens. Thank Duggan's policies, thank city council lack of oversight."


This statement would be all better with proof. As a resident, here is my short list of items that the City has worked to serve my interests:

1. Increasing property value.

2. Abundance of high skill/ high potential jobs in cutting edge industries.

3. Good schools.

4. Diverse population.

5. Wonderful downtown.

6. Thriving performing arts, outdoor activity venues, and trails.

7. Low crime rate.

8. Clean.

I would venture to say there are many other residents who have a similar short list to mine, so when you say City Hall is self serving, I tend to think you mean it hasn't served YOUR interests.

So let's summarize: this isn't about Mr. Duggan double dipping, nor about his performance as City Manager, who has a proven exemplary record. This isn't about the performance of City of Mountain View as compared to other cities, which also is nationally recognized as a well run city. Rather, this is about the City not pandering to your expectations, which up to this point have remained rather oblique.

Without expanding on what exactly the City hasn't done for you, and more importantly, why its relevant to the rest of us, you appear to be crying that your silver spoon isn't gold plated.

Posted by Observer, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Aug 20, 2011 at 7:41 am


Did I say Duggan didn't manage the city well? The answer is no. But he certainly managed his benefits well, and as someone above said, he is definitely taking advantage of it. Again, if the city, led by him, didn't whittle down the retirement age to the mid-50s, he might be still working here, or have moved on to a greater pre-retirement challenge either in the public or private sector. At age 65 or 67, the city would have chipped in its share for his retirement. And the cities books would be in great shape. Instead the city, via the taxpayers, gets to foot the bill for his extremely generous early retirement package while also being on the hook for yet another high priced city manager. It's amazing how people just can't fathom an alternative to what we have, particularly since these types of packages are not how this county used to WORK.

Point out all you want, Hardin, about how great little old Mountain View is to you. There are a lot of great things in the city, the state and in the country, and a great many of them going back to the beginning or our history were the results of hard work and inspiration of civic leaders and public employees and even little people nobodies who didn't need to be lavished with high salaries and over-the-top pension plans to achieve a vision or a project or an ideal. The way you talk is as if great things and great inspirations do not come without great salaries and benefits. And I'd say up through the first 215 years of the nation's history, say, until the 1990s, these types of ridiculous high level public employee packages did not even exist. Since then, well what can I say, the sense of entitlement and "me first" service has basically gotten the city, state, and nation to the point of near bankruptcy. Why not just hand Duggan a noble title and build a statue of him in Eagle Park? Maybe he will let us all picnic on his estate on the weekends as a gesture of his appreciation for us taking care of him, or rather him taking care of us for many commenters here. Why don't we just bring back the king of England to. Because somehow we are all supposed to feel that he deserves all of best for working into his 50s and doing a great job? Wow! That kind of sentiment will bankrupt this nation for sure! Past generations, the Great Generation of pre- and post-World War II, for example, never required such things yet were responsible for building much of what we consider to be the modern United States. Yet the way you put it, Mountain View is somehow eternally indebted to one little man who worked into his 50s, yet who I recall never dug a trench in this city.

You are keen to point out what this city has, and what other cities do not. Who cares? Palo Alto and Los Altos trump Mountain View, while Mountain View trumps Sunnyvale, but not Cupertino. How does that justify Duggan's and other top leaderships pay and retirement benefits? Are you saying that without him, we would have been nothing? I just don't buy it.

If you think this is all a non-issue than explain to me why there are efforts underway to reform public pensions? The City of Bell is just an example of the system in its extreme. Like it or not, deny it all you want, Mountain View ranks very high in compensation packages for City, Police, and Fire leadership compared to other cities. It's the children in our schools that will be paying for the retirements of the likes of Duggan.

Posted by Hardin, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 20, 2011 at 11:00 am

So you admit that the City is well run. You also admit that Mr. Duggan was a good city manager. It appears that what you take exception to is the compensation he was provided for his services.

That's like gobbling down the foie gras and then recanting you don't think its worth more than bologna.

In our capitalistic society, price is determined by what the seller is willing to pay. Given what Kevin Duggan has accomplished for this City, and comparing the wealth generated during his term, vs. what he got in compensation, I say we got a steal.

Posted by Hardin, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 20, 2011 at 11:07 am

"Since then, well what can I say, the sense of entitlement and "me first" service has basically gotten the city, state, and nation to the point of near bankruptcy. Why not just hand Duggan a noble title and build a statue of him in Eagle Park?"


Your bitterness is misplaced. Mr. Duggan is not singularly responsible for the City's retirement age, benefit package, or salaries. This is even more so as you seem to expand your rant to state and federal policies as well.

And in the case of Mr. Duggan, I don't see any "gaming" of the system. He has abided by the rules in place, and avoided double-dipping.

You seem cling to the expectation that public employees are somehow charities. They're not. People go to work to get paid, that's true in private and public sectors. To expect anyone to pursue working for less than what they are worth is presumptuous as best.

I share your concerns about the sustainability of public finances under the given pay structure, health benefits, and risk of double-dipping. The counterweight to "fair and competitive" compensation must be balanced with what we as a City can afford. But that's not what this article was about, and you've incorrectly attributed that issue to Mr. Duggan, using such large brush strokes and generalities, that you are painting entire city blocks in a stroke.

Posted by Steve, a resident of Sylvan Park
on Aug 23, 2011 at 3:34 pm

I stand by my comments regarding city staff serving its own best interests ahead of Mountain View citizens. It's a two part statement. 20+ years of my occasional business with city hall has been entirely unsatisfying, being met with snotty attitudes and excuses about why they're unable to do whatever needs doing. So yes, they are certainly not serving MY interests. Unfortunately, my 'interests' are no different or more demanding than any other citizen's. As for city staff serving their own ends, one quick example, out of many: City zeal for inreased density. Who benefits? Developers! Employers! City staff! (larger population=increased demand for services=more city employees=bigger management empires)Current citizens? Not really...increased congestion, traffic, noise. Lower quality of life. Lower property values.

Also, Mr. Hardin, let's only give credit where it is due. It's wonderful that your property value has remained high. Nicer areas escaped much of the slowdown. Alas, the working class areas didn't. Are you claiming the city is responsible for the disparity?! Also unconvinced of the relationship between city hall and jobs, other than giving Google sweetheart deals...definitaly no connection to the schools or our wonderfully diverse population. Perhaps one with crime, but I wouldn't bring that up right now. Mountain View is still a nice place to live, but more despite our leadership than because of it.

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