The Berkeley City Council unanimously confirmed the appointment of interim City Manager Christine Daniel as the new city manager at its meeting Tuesday night.
Daniel has served as interim city manager since November, when the council approved an employment contract with her following former City Manager Phil Kamlarz’s retirement.
Councilmembers expressed their overwhelming support for Daniel, along with heads of the city’s various departments who stood in the back of the council chambers during the appointment to show their support for her confirmation.
“We were lucky to find her, folks,” Mayor Tom Bates said at the meeting.
Councilmember Linda Maio praised Daniel’s “unique capabilities and qualities in taking over at the helm at a very difficult time for the city.”
Daniel served as deputy city manager from November 2007 up to her appointment last November. Prior to that position, she served as the city’s deputy city attorney for eight years then worked for the city of Fremont before coming back to Berkeley.
Although he wholeheartedly supported the confirmation, Councilmember Kriss Worthington raised concerns over a portion of the city manager’s contract that he said community members have previously found fault with.
According to Worthington, the current contract — which was approved when the council confirmed Daniel in November and will be continued in her new capacity — allows for a city manager who is fired to receive a year’s pay upon their dismissal for almost any reason. No such language existed in any previous city manager’s contract, according to Worthington.
“If someone was to be fired for totally messing up their jobs … then that person could still receive a severance package,” Worthington said at the meeting. “I think there’s overwhelming majority sentiment that that kind of policy is inappropriate.”
According to the agenda item, the annual salary for the city manager is $225,000.
Councilmembers Linda Maio and Laurie Capitelli said that issues with the contract could be addressed by the council’s evaluation committee, for which Maio is the chairperson. Worthington said he was satisfied with this solution, and reiterated his support for Daniel’s appointment.
“I don’t think any of these concerns should be seen as any comment on the qualities of the acting city manager,” Worthington said. “(She) has continued the exemplary service that we saw from the previous city manager.”