Martin Thouvenell

Martin Thouvenell

By Liset Márquez,
lmarquez@scng.com, @JournaLiset on Twitter
Posted: 07/28/16 – 6:17 PM PDT |

UPLAND >> Just who is the man who will fill the vacancy as the executive director of a foundering city? At least in the interim, it’s a name some may find familiar.

He is Martin Thouvenell, 64, who spent three decades working for the city in various capacities.

Becoming city manager is not an easy task in Upland.

Rod Butler’s abrupt dismissal Wednesday, which becomes effective next month, marks the fourth consecutive city manager, dating back to 2005, to leave amid controversy.

Even residents can see the writing on the wall: Upland’s council is not an ideal situation for a new city manager.

“I’m confident we can get the city back on track,” Thouvenell said by phone late Wednesday afternoon. “It’s not going to be an easy job.”

He said he is well aware of the strained public discourse between council members.

“It’s really important to have the complete cooperation of the council; I think they need to put personal differences aside,” he said. “With the right person working with them toward these goals, that will change.”

Thouvenell comes with impressive knowledge of the city, having done stints as police chief for a decade, then another six years serving simultaneously as the top cop, the fire chief and director of the parks and recreation department.

And for one year, he managed the city and the police department.

“I’ve lived here my whole life in Upland…,” Thouvenell said. “I’m upset by the turn of events that have happened in the last few years.”

Mostly recently, Thouvenell was part of a 10-member fiscal task force convened in late 2013 to identify the top 10 ideas — out of 47 — that would help generate up to $7 million in savings to the city’s general fund. Thouvenell has been a harsh critic of the city for taking little action on the recommendations made in 2015.

“We came up with some good ideas of how we can turn things around,” he said.

After he formally assumes the role Aug. 8, Thouvenell said he expects to present a financial plan in the next two months that could begin turning around Upland’s bleak future. Last year, a city consultant concluded Upland could find itself in the red by 2017 — driven mainly by increasing pension costs.

“The city is in serious trouble,” he said. “My plan is to do a deep assessment and provide a number of options.”

Among his possible recommendations, even if they aren’t popular with the council or residents, is the serious need to raise revenues, either through a tax increase or other new sources.

He is unapologetic as he discusses the different factions on the council, which he believes is the root cause of keeping the council from moving forward as a cohesive group.

He’s not here to make friends, and that fact hasn’t escaped the council.

“He’s a strong leader and there won’t be a learning curve,” said Councilman Gino Filippi in an email.

To read expanded article, click here.