HERCULES -- Hercules has picked a new city manager in David Biggs, a veteran of high-level administrative posts in the South Bay, Southern California and Australia, and more recently, a survivor of what he described as political "dysfunctionality" in two Southern California cities.
The City Council on Tuesday will consider a three-year contract with Biggs that would pay him $220,000 a year plus benefits, with options for a fourth and fifth year. If Biggs serves the full five years, he would be entitled to an additional 10 percent retention bonus for each of the last two years, or a total of $44,000. The contract also calls for a one-time relocation allowance of up to $15,000.
Assuming the council approves the contract, Biggs would start in his new post June 30.
Biggs' municipal career started in Santa Ana's redevelopment agency in 1980, followed by four years as Downtown Development Project Manager for Long Beach and three years with the industrial development agency of the Australian state of South Australia.
From 1990 to 1995, Biggs served in Morgan Hill, first as economic development director, then as city manager. From 1995 to 2005, he was economic development director in Huntington Beach, and from 2005 to 2010, he served as assistant city manager of Redondo Beach.
In October 2010, Biggs became city manager of Tustin in Orange County.
Less than five months later, he was out again.
"Shortly after I started, there was an election and a shift in the council composition," Biggs said in a telephone interview last week. "That was the key factor."
He said he could not elaborate further under the terms of his separation agreement with Tustin, which included a severance package with nine months salary.
The Tustin City Council voted 3-2 on March 1, 2011, to terminate Biggs on the grounds that the relationship between him and the council was "not satisfactory," according to the meeting minutes.
In August 2011, Biggs was hired as city manager of Carson on a three-year contract. He was fired in June 2013 by a Carson City Council "well known for bizarre antics," according to the Torrance-based Daily Breeze, becoming "the latest apparent victim of an infamously fractious panel of elected officials."
As Biggs described it, "An incumbent council member lost a re-election bid, and when a directly-elected mayor found himself in the majority, he decided he wanted another city manager."
In September 2013, the Daily Breeze, citing high-ranking officials, reported that Biggs had refused to fire upper-echelon managers who would not carry out the will of the council.
"His removal from Tustin and Carson shows that he was willing to be fired before taking a step back for corruption," Hercules Councilman Dan Romero said in an email.
Hercules Mayor Myrna de Vera said Biggs had ranked highest among 49 candidates and that he has the integrity, vision for excellence and experience that Hercules needs in a city manager.
"At first glance, his 'rough spells' at the cities of Tustin and Carson caused me some concern," de Vera said in an email, "but upon closer look at the facts, I learned to respect him even more. David Biggs lost his position at those two cities because he chose not to compromise his ethics."
Other council members were similarly effusive. Vice Mayor Sherry McCoy hailed Biggs' experience, temperament and high ethical standards.
"Hercules has turned the corner and has an exciting future," McCoy said in an email, in an apparent reference to Hercules' own problems involving financial irregularities that brought the city to the brink of bankruptcy.
Councilman Bill Kelly said he is "very pleased with our decision and ... confident that David will be a great asset to Hercules"
Biggs said he looks forward to working on the development of the Hercules waterfront, including the planned Hercules Intermodal Transit Center and the private Bayfront transit village project.
Contact Tom Lochner at 510-262-2760. Follow him at Twitter.com/tomlochner.