09:59 PM PDT on Wednesday, June 15, 2011

By ALICIA ROBINSON and JIM MILLER
The Press-Enterprise
Published: 6/15/2011 04:18 PM

“Brad, and not Brad” is the only way to describe what Riverside City Council members and residents say they’ll be looking for in a replacement for City Manager Brad Hudson, who will leave his post in mid-August.

After six years in Riverside, Hudson has accepted a job as Sacramento County’s top executive. The surprise announcement Tuesday put an exclamation point on Hudson’s sometimes turbulent Riverside career.

City officials have not yet named an interim city manager, but Mayor Ron Loveridge said it will be an internal pick who likely will be named after next Tuesday’s council meeting. Council members also will discuss the search process and what they’re looking for in a city manager.

On Wednesday, officials and residents said the city needs an experienced, aggressive leader who can keep up the momentum of the Renaissance, a $1.57 billion public works initiative Hudson spearheaded. The Renaissance is 90 percent done but still has major projects under way, such as a convention center expansion and railroad underpasses.

“We’ve built a lot of things in the city. Now we’ve got to operate them and get the return on all our investments,” said Tom Evans, a former interim city manager.

Several people said they want a city manager who can build consensus and work with the community. Hudson is adept at gaining support for his ideas on the council, but he has angered some residents for forging ahead before getting public input and for disregarding criticism.

Hudson was improving at public outreach, Councilman Mike Gardner said, but “I’d like to see the city do more outreach and early discussion with people who are affected by proposed projects or concepts.”

Others said the next city manager should support historic preservation, increase transparency, understand the city’s components such as parks and transportation, and show sound fiscal management. The long list of criteria hints at what a challenge the job will be.

“There’s a reason that city managers typically don’t last longer than three to five years,” Gardner said. “Either you make your bosses mad and they replace you, or you make the citizenry mad to some extent and they complain about you.”

‘MY WORK IS DONE’

In an interview Wednesday in Sacramento, Hudson said he leaves Riverside having accomplished his goals.

He cited the Renaissance, improving the technology of city government, and city efforts to become an environmental leader.

“I think my work is pretty much done there,” Hudson said. “I’m proud of everything we accomplished. The mayor and council were wonderful.”

Hudson also said that he improved transparency at City Hall and increased the diversity of the city workforce.

But critics at times said they were unhappy with Hudson’s record on both.

Riverside has about 2,400 employees, compared with 11,000 in Sacramento County. Riverside’s budget is about $1 billion compared with $3.5 billion in Sacramento County.

Hudson’s base pay at his Sacramento job will be $258,200, a bit less than the $294,525 he was earning in Riverside. He also had two years left on his contract here.

In Riverside, his total annual compensation, which included retirement, medical and other benefits was nearly $424,000. Sacramento County officials could not immediately say what his compensation will be.

Hudson’s new bosses, the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors, chose him unanimously after interviewing five candidates. They weren’t concerned by recent allegations here that officials steered contracts to Hudson’s friends, or questions about his role in the controversy surrounding former Police Chief Russ Leach’s DUI incident.

Supervisors dismissed the claims as unfounded, Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Roberta MacGlashan said.

“There were no surprises. And we felt the explanations were completely satisfactory,” she said.

Hudson’s explanation was that “employees whose own conduct has come under scrutiny will retaliate.”

“We can’t be afraid to hold employees accountable for fear that they may come out with these kinds of allegations,” he said.

Riverside council members emphatically denied that Hudson was in any way pushed out.

Several said they had not anticipated the announcement of Hudson’s departure.

“We had absolutely no idea. I think it caught all of us a little by surprise,” Councilman Chris Mac Arthur said.

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