On Tuesday night, the Santa Rosa City Council is expected to discuss the hiring of an interim city manager to succeed Jeff Kolin who’s skipping out in mid-January to become top official in Beverly Hills.
Even picking an interim chief in Santa Rosa is loaded with politics and could hint at where the city is headed after Kolin.

Two of the leading candidates are Greg Scoles, the assistant deputy manager and second-in-command, and former Advanced Planning Director Wayne Goldberg, a 26-year veteran of the city, who resigned in August not long after Kolin recommended the elimination of his position.

Scoles has the endorsement of Kolin and many administrators at city hall while Goldberg reportedly has the support of the progressives on the City Council and in the community. 

Goldberg is a likeable guy, but out in the community he’s viewed as either a careful planner who protected the community’s quality of life or the creator of a byzantine planning process that sent mixed signals and discouraged economic development. Four years ago, Goldberg resisted pressure to resign as head of community development, a move driven largely by complaints from the business/building community. At that point, Kolin reassigned Goldberg to head of the newly created “advanced planning.” He remains something of a political lightening rod and has no experience as a city manager. 

Scoles, a former city manager in Ashland, is also respected. But he has more of a reputation as a behind-the-scenes guy who takes on difficult, complex assignments such as labor negotiations and water contracts.

If the City Council is looking to stay the course, Scoles would be the guy. If the council is looking to make a statement, Goldberg would certainly be it. But what would that statement be? To Kolin, it would be less of a statement than a slap in the face.

Interesting note: When Goldberg handed in his resignation in July, he didn’t give it to Kolin. He gave it to Scoles.

– Paul Gullixson