Buckingham chosen as City Manager of Morro Bay

On Monday, when the Bishop City Council agreed to pay David Buckingham $38,000 to avoid litigation over the City Administrator’s job, Buckingham was accepting another job as City Manager of Morro Bay. He was one of 50 applicants for the position and the number one choice.

morrobayAs we have reported, sources confirmed that Buckingham signed a contract offered by the Bishop City Council to take the job as City Administrator here. Reports said the Council later withdrew their offer with no public explanation. Buckingham claimed damages.  The City Council agreed to pay him $38,000 to avoid litigation.

The Morro Bay City Council voted unanimously for Buckingham to fill their City Manager job effective September 29th. A press release from that City says Buckingham passed a comprehensive vetting process, including interviews by citizens and the City Council. The release says Buckingham’s final job for the military in his 25-year career was Director of Environmental Services at the Pentagon.

Buckingham’s command in Italy drew attention in Morro Bay as it did in Bishop. While the command included many tasks similar to a city manager, there was some controversy over his treatment of a military police officer. In the San Luis Obispo Tribune, Buckingham is quoted as saying that he lost his temper and used profanity during a fourth of July incident in which an officer failed to follow orders to open a gate that was blocking traffic at the crowded celebration.

Credible sources in Bishop said that the Bishop City Council had this same information before offering Buckingham a contract as City Administrator. The Tribune quoted Buckingham on the Italy situation as saying, “It was not poor management because of the actions that I had to take to hold a few people accountable.”

The Interim City Manager of Morro Bay was also quoted as saying he spoke with two three-star generals who endorsed Buckingham “100 percent.”

Buckingham will make more money in Morro Bay than he would have in Bishop. His salary is $160,000 plus benefits. His contract is expected to be ratified August 26th – around the same time Jim Tatum will go to work in Bishop as the new City Administrator.

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23 Responses to Buckingham chosen as City Manager of Morro Bay

  1. Puzzled local native August 18, 2014 at 12:10 pm #

    I’m glad that Bennett is willing to tackle this news breaking story after KIBS initially reported it as the top news story on their local news Monday the eleventh at 7:00 am !!!! Then mysteriously that was not broadcast on the noon news !!!! And nothing in the Inyo Register ? Are you kidding me ? This is a huge scandal at Us Taxpayers expense !!! Knew something was up when the City Council kept dragging their feet !!!! I hope The Sierra Wave and maybe a Grand Jury should investigate this scandal !!!

  2. WHY? August 15, 2014 at 4:17 pm #


    Do the math.

  3. Disappointed August 14, 2014 at 10:42 pm #

    What is also interesting to note is that out of 50 applicants for a similar position in the upscale community of Morro Bay, the Colonel finished first in the selection process. In light of the availability of the information concerning the Colonel’s background, I find it hard to believe that Morro Bay would not have conducted a thorough examination of the actual facts, as opposed to simply reading an article in the Army Times and accepting it as gospel,.

    Having some personal knowledge of the military myself, I’ll add that no environment or organization is free from the corrupting effects of politics. As we have seen here in our own little microcosm, the influences of powerful people are often subject to their own agendas, opinions, and likes/dislikes. Rubbing a superior officer in the wrong way might not always be smart, but it doesn’t make you wrong. My firm belief is that the incident in Italy had nothing to do with the City Council changing their mind, but rather pressure from “vocal-locals” pushed some, or all of the Council to disregard their previous decision based on qualifications and instead choose a decision based on popularity.

    While all the facts surrounding these circumstances may never be known due to the cloak of “non-disclosure” clauses and requirements about disparaging remarks, what is not subject to debate is that the combined actions of 5 elected officials resulted in a loss of $38,000 of taxpayer’s money. Every”one” makes mistakes, but when 5 people do it collectively, something just doesn’t smell right.

    In reading the settlement agreement, I see nothing that would prevent a media inquiry into whether or not any or all of the City Council were contacted in any way by local citizens urging the hiring of Mr. Tatum during the protracted time frame of the Closed Session discussions about the position of City Administrator. Even more interesting would be to know if any of those conversations or correspondences took place between the time that the Colonel was presented with a contract and the meeting where some (or all) of the Council changed their collective minds.

    But, these are just the ramblings of someone who is wondering what the heck is going on with the Bishop City Council these days. I truly miss Smiley Connolly, John Young, Frank Crom and others like them who said what they meant and meant what they said, both publicly and behind closed doors. While I don’t know anything about the 3 new candidates seeking election in November, I know that a change for the better is needed.

  4. Desert Tortoise August 14, 2014 at 4:50 pm #

    Frankly I commend the city of Bishop for not hiring the retired colonel. He was relieved of command mid tour. I am a former officer. The military doesn’t do that unless it has some pretty good reasons. Have a look at this Army Times article.


    It is couched in military jargon, but the items to focus on are the reference to “command climate”. Commanding officers typically have wide latitude to run their units as they see fit and good commanding generals or admirals don’t micromanage their field commanders. But, in my opinion, the seemingly mild reference to “command climate” means that this wasn’t an isolated incident but part of a pattern of poor conduct and/or poor judgment culminating in the incident cussing the MP out. In this case the misconduct was too flagrant and too public for the colonel’s commander, a Lt. General, couldn’t overlook any longer. Don’t kid yourself thinking it was an isolated incident. It was the straw that broke the camels back. No General wants to fire a colonel. They go out of their way to avoid doing so.

    Also note the reference to the colonels rebuttal of the charges against him caused Lt. Gen. Campbell to “lose confidence” in the colonels ability to lead. That looks like mild language but in the military that is harsh, career ending language. Your primary job as an officer is to lead, and if your boss publicly expresses doubts in your ability to lead, you’re done. You tuck your tail between your legs and ooze out under a closed door.

    The City Council did Bishop a favor not hiring this former colonel when they understood the full ramifications of his “retirement”.

    • Disappointed August 14, 2014 at 9:49 pm #

      Isn’t it interesting though, “Desert Tortoise”, that they did know about all of this before they made their decision and STILL sent him a contract? 😉

    • Bishop Pioneer August 14, 2014 at 11:01 pm #

      What branch of service and what rank were you DT? And more importantly did you lead men into harms way? You want to be considered an authority on military jargon so lay out your qualifications since you see fit to question the Colonel`s qualifications.

      • Desert Tortoise August 15, 2014 at 11:44 pm #

        I was a pilot in the Navy. Most of what you do isn’t flying but leading a division or department.

    • @DT August 15, 2014 at 1:10 pm #

      @DT You’re missing the point. People aren’t upset about whether or not the guy was hired. People are upset at the incompetent hiring process that led to the City having to shell $38,000!

      If you’re able to Google the candidate, they could’ve Google’d the candidate, and should have done so, if not during the initial review of applications, then clearly before sending him a contract!

      This debate is not about whether the retired colonel was qualified, its about whether or not the people in office are.

      But nice humble-brag about your military experience – totally relevant.

      • Desert Tortoise August 15, 2014 at 11:51 pm #

        I would say the candidate soft pedaled the nature of his departure from the Army and the obtuse language used by military investigators did not cue the City Council to the real nature of Mr. Buckingham’s “retirement”. Don’t blame it all on the City Council, Mr. Buckingham wasn’t entirely up front about his past.

        I would also say the city of Bishop doesn’t owe Mr. Buckingham one cent. If anything they should have told him to pack sand at the first hint he wanted compensation. That he did demand compensation tells you something about his character.

        My military background gives me insight into the nature of the language used in their written conclusions. Unless you have yourself served, the language doesn’t mean to you what it means to someone who has been in the service and is familiar with it.

        If you read the Moro Bay press on Mr. Buckingham you can see they don’t really know what they are getting and Mr. Buckingham isn’t telling them. Be glad Bishop saw him for what he really is.

    • Tourbillon August 15, 2014 at 8:49 pm #

      That you are a former naval officer DT makes me wonder how the fact of contemporary flag officers bending to whichever political breeze their fingers detect has escaped your attention.

      • Desert Tortoise August 18, 2014 at 8:16 am #

        What makes you assume I do? I’m more concerned with flag officers retiring and immediately taking a position with a large defense contractor. It makes the decisions they made in the previous few years suspect. I think you will find most political ideologies represented among the ranks of military members. I don’t see anyone I know changing their stripes but I do see some who’s politcal views are not aligned with those of the administration of the day keeping their views to themselves out of a sense of self preservation. That cuts both ways btw, it is not confined to one party.

  5. Bishop Poineer August 14, 2014 at 3:59 pm #

    Nice job council! You’re voted in by the public to make wise and responsible decisions for the good of the city and it’s citizens. Except for Glidewell who was appointed after losing in the last election. News flash you folks blew it! Nice that mayor Ellis and Glidewell believe they have earned another 4 years and are running again. If either one comes in third they could be appointed to fill Stottlemeyers seat in January. How lucky the ENTIRE county will be to have such a wise and fiscally responsible guy as assessor! The county needs more financial experts like stottlemeyer to help the supervisors. Maybe he can raise property taxes county wide to help cover his part of this screw up.

    And yes Mark, I would also like to know why the Colonel would have been “trouble”.

  6. Mark August 14, 2014 at 6:51 am #

    Bishop dodged a bullet on this one… Thank your lucky stars the City did not hire this guy. He would have been trouble…

    • Disappointed August 14, 2014 at 10:35 am #

      Actually, Mark, we didn’t “dodge a bullet”, we missed the “mark” (no pun intended!). This man was very qualified for the job, which is why he was chosen to begin with. It’s too bad that politics had to get in the way. 🙁

      • Dee Younger August 14, 2014 at 12:21 pm #

        Disappointed, I’m also curious what info you know that could better inform us. I would love to know how this got screwed up.

    • Dee Younger August 14, 2014 at 12:15 pm #

      Mark, I’m curious about the Colonel. Could you please elaborate on what would make him trouble. You must know something the rest of us are unaware of.

      • Trouble August 15, 2014 at 6:56 am #

        Can I remind you Dee that you criticized and told me” I didn’t know what I was talking about ” when this story was first released. Just because this stuff happens in most small towns, it doesn’t make it right and people should to be able to say so.

        • Dee Younger August 15, 2014 at 10:49 am #

          Trouble, I detected a slight implication in your original post about Jim Tatum. That was what I was responding to. What my question now is how this process got screwed up. I and I’m sure you and many people like myself would like an answer. I’ve defended the City Council many times in the past and will probably do so in the future. There is too much influence by a group of people whose voices represent the past and not the future The courthouse decision was influenced by the same group of people.

  7. Philip Anaya August 13, 2014 at 8:29 pm #

    Dear Mr Buckingham ,
    Now that you have that California Job and you are not going to be financially impaired with the loss of the Bishop job maybe it’s time to count your blessings and not financially impair the constituants of the City of Bishop. This is a beautiful place to visit and you would always be able to hold your head up high visiting here , knowing that this would be the correct thing to do. This simple act would reflect the wisdom and goodness that resides with you . Talk it over with the wife and let us know . You could even post an announcement or comment right here on the Sierra Wave . Thank You

    • upthecreek August 13, 2014 at 9:12 pm #

      I would be shocked if that ever happened.
      remember most of these public servants care about one thing and one thing only
      The size of their salary and benefits package.
      not to mention their pensions

    • Pedro August 13, 2014 at 9:49 pm #

      Maybe the Council should reduce their salary by $19,000 and offer to split the difference with Buckingham. Then Council could also count their blessings and hold their head high, doing the right thing and not financially impair their constituents.

      Heck, maybe Tatum should pitch in too. How about Tatum $12,000, council $12,000, and Buckingham forgives $14,000 ? I think Buckingham should take the settlement, even if he just turns around and donates it locally. Council needs to learn they are playing with real money, and 38k is a cheap lesson if it prevents Bishop from falling further into Mammoth’s footsteps.

    • Disappointed August 13, 2014 at 11:00 pm #

      Really!?! This gentleman was wronged by our city. Maybe you should take up the financial loss to the city with our council members. THEY are the people this should be directed at, Mr. Anaya.

      Bishop’s loss is Morro Bay’s gain. Sounds like we truly missed the boat.

      • Philip Anaya August 14, 2014 at 10:20 am #

        Mr. Buckingham and family obviously had expenses that accompanied this debacle . Those expenses needed to be comped . Now that he is headed out west , once again maybe some of those expenses and upset will be covered with his new job. Asking the Mr. Buckingham to make a magnanimous offer and decision to lessen the finanacial impact on tax payers is much less than his life long service to the Country in the Armed Forces. I do not know him, but trust that he is a dedicated public servant . He certainly deserves better treatment than what occurred . I don’t think that he is an angry, vindictive individual. I hope that his future goes well for both himself and the City of Morro Bay . I’d like to see viral headlines of how fate, he and Morro bay have redeemed the situation. When it comes to government, especially local government, we are all in this together. So many times decisions go south , things don’t work out , things are not happy ever after , but in this case it seems that the one remaining negative to the “best of the situation” is the $38,000 plus that the Tax Payers will have to pay .


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