The Crow's Nest
The Port Hueneme showdown: city manager vs. police chief
By The Spotter 11/08/2012
“It’s him or me.” Who hasn’t heard this difficult choice in life? You gotta pick one or the other. And in this case, the Port Hueneme City Council picked her — Police Chief Kathleen Sheehan.
Tongues have been wagging since the October surprise resignation of City Manager Dave Norman. As city managers go, Norman appeared to be sent from Central Casting. He was calm, competent and served at the desire of his Council in the city by the sea. In 2010, the council brought in a new police chief — Sheehan, who hailed from LAPD. They could not have been more opposite. While Sheehan was “out there” at every political and public event you could wave a flag at, Norman kept to the background. Sheehan was a masterful politician and a tour de force. A bit over the top at times, she was, nonetheless, the face of the city throughout much of western Ventura County. (Not that the City Council members are shrinking violets. For being in a small city, the Port Hueneme City Council has a lot of visibility.)
Behind the scenes, however, insiders tell the Spotter a different story. Norman was not the nice, serene fellow he appeared to be in public. Agency heads complained that he had an iron fist in private meetings and had a “take it or leave it” approach to management.
Most suffered in silence. Not Sheehan. She started looking for another job and then … surprise, surprise … word of her job search made it into the local media. The Council thought highly of Sheehan and wanted her to stay. In private meetings, she told the Council, “It’s him or me. If he stays, I go.”
And so the Council negotiated a quiet resignation from Norman with pay through the end of the year.
It pays to be popular. And now there are five cities in Ventura County without a city manager.