Palo Alto names new assistant city manager | March 5, 2010 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - March 5, 2010

Palo Alto names new assistant city manager

Pamela Antil, an experienced management-level city official, chosen to fill city's number-two position, vacant for 18 months

by Gennady Sheyner

Pamela Antil has been selected by Palo Alto City Manager James Keene to serve as the city's new assistant city manager, the number-two management position in the city.

She was selected out of 153 applicants and seven finalists, who were interviewed, the city manager's office reported.

Keene said Antil's hiring is part of a broader reorganization of his office.

"Pam brings the right qualifications, great energy and exemplary 'people' skills to help us through these challenging times," Keene said in a statement announcing her hiring.

The City Council is expected to ratify Antil's appointment Monday night.

The position has been vacant since May 2008 following the resignation of former Assistant City Manager Emily Harrison, who took a job as a deputy county executive for Santa Clara County.

The assistant manager serves as the operations officer for the city and "may act on behalf of the City Manager when necessary at City Council meetings and in other high-level capacities," the announcement stated.

Antil's salary will be $195,000 a year.

"Filling the position at this time is critical to the effective operations of the City and our ability to help transition our organization through challenging times while fulfilling Council priorities," Keene wrote in his report to the council.

Antil has more than 20 years of management experience and has worked on implementing "green" initiatives and energy savings in Novi, Mich., where she has served as assistant city manager since 2006. Before that, she served as assistant city manager at Ann Arbor, Mich., and at Rancho Palos Verdes in Southern California.

She received a master's degree in public administration from California State University, Long Beach, and has served on numerous committees for the International City/County Management Association.

"My husband and I are very excited to be able to raise our girls in Palo Alto and be fully engaged in the community through my work within the city organization and our family's involvement in the schools and civic groups," Antil said in a statement.

Keene touted Antil's prior experiences as an assistant city manager and said he is "looking forward to Pam helping with the city's day-to-day operations."

Kelly Morariu, assistant to the city manager, said Antil's hiring is one component of a broader restructuring of Keene's office.

Susan Barnes, Keene's assistant for economic development, will retire in June after 11 years with the city.

The duties of promoting economic development will be assumed by Deputy City Manager Steve Emslie, who will oversee the new Office of Economic Development. Last year, the city manager's office hired Debra van Duynhoven to serve as its sustainability coordinator, replacing three part-time environmental coordinators who have other jobs with the city.

Keene is also planning to appoint Greg Betts the director of the Department of Community Services. Betts, who has served as a manager in the department for 26 years, currently fills the director position on an interim basis.

The council is scheduled to ratify Betts' appointment and Antil's contract at its meeting Monday night (March 8).

Staff Writer Gennady Sheyner can be e-mailed at


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 4, 2010 at 10:05 am

This sounds like musical chairs and the winners get a pay rise and a new job title.

We are supposed to be finding ways of cutting spending and this sounds like the opposite to me. When I say "we" I mean Palo Alto, but it sounds like City government will always find ways round making cuts.

Stop spending at the top. Stop spending across the board. Start finding ways to save money and use the savings to increase infrastructure.

Posted by Elizabeth, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 4, 2010 at 11:04 am

Everyone I know who is finding work these days is finding they have to take huge pay cuts.

Is this a pay cut for this new addition because that's a really high salary for "public service" and certainly does not look like the wise use of a budget that is already too big and delivering too little?

Let's start by repairing and resurfacing roads so we have a smoothly road to ride to a better future!

Posted by Just Asking, a resident of Green Acres
on Mar 4, 2010 at 11:14 am

I'm just wondering what Jim Keene will do with him time now. This new hire, Pamela Antil is presumably a replacement for Emily Harrison who was the previous Assistant City Manager.

Jim Keene now has an Assistant City Manager, a Deputy City Manager Steve Emslie, an Assistant to the City Manager Kelly Marriou and an Assistant to the City Manager for Sustainability!! All these employees of the City have handsome six figure salaries plus benefits and a pension!! Plus offices on the same floor as the City Manager.

Can we afford Jim Keene and his entourage?

Posted by JA3+, a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 4, 2010 at 11:17 am

As I understand, it's the public employee pension obligation which will long impact the City's finances; it's a quite significant burden, yes?

Posted by Red Meat, a resident of another community
on Mar 4, 2010 at 11:19 am

There must not be much of a "fiscal crisis" in Keene's office.

Posted by Marco, a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 4, 2010 at 11:40 am

I don't understand why Jim Keene didn't just promote Steve Emslie to that position. Not (only) for financial reasons as others have mentioned, but because Steve is a seasoned, well known, approachable manager in Palo Alto for many years, most recently as Planning and Community Development Department Director. Steve knows the city, and knows how the process works in Palo Alto. He wouldn't have needed the learning curve that the new person will certainly require.

It is surprising that Keene, who has handled the reins superbly since coming to Palo Alto, kept the hunt for an Assistant City Manager under wraps and out of the public eye while, at the same time, he so widely publicized the search for a new Police Chief.

Posted by cityworker, a resident of another community
on Mar 4, 2010 at 11:43 am

This is exactly why morale is so low among City Employees. There is so much mismanagement and other things that the public doesn't know about. There are most likely going to be cuts and layoffs this year to the lower-level SEIU workers while top management gets raises and Keene pads his inner circle even thicker.

Posted by Alice Schaffer Smith, a resident of Green Acres
on Mar 4, 2010 at 12:03 pm

This needs editing: first name? he / she?

Posted by Just Asking, a resident of Green Acres
on Mar 4, 2010 at 12:12 pm

Marco says: "I don't understand why Jim Keene didn't just promote Steve Emslie to that position?" The answer to your question is obvious. Jim Keene has a need to look important, you do that by ever increasing the size of your staff. He is now at the top of a very expensive pyramid of assistants, so he can sit in his office and just delegate.

But I agree, Steve Emslie is very competent, well known and liked by the residents of Palo Alto. Don't feel sorry for Steve, I'm sure the City will reward him well for his likability.

The City did not keep the fact that they were looking for an Assistant City Manager a secret. There have been some previous press releases about it i.e. the search firm hired to find the appropriate candidate etc.

Posted by Carol Gilbert, a resident of University South
on Mar 4, 2010 at 12:59 pm

OMG, I am ready to scream, "Stop the insanity!"

Not only should we not add this position, but we should be looking at the ones we can subtract. We need worker bees not more at the top.

This is NOT a way to save money now or in the future!

What is so complicated about all this?

Posted by dott31, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Mar 4, 2010 at 1:29 pm

Forgive me, Alice SS, but I'm trying to figure out what you believe needs editing and what the gender issue refers to. Please clarify.

Posted by de magnetized, a resident of another community
on Mar 4, 2010 at 4:24 pm

Well congratulations to her. Possibly she'll be able to find the informational needle in the disconbublated P.A. financial haystack, and locate the budget department's missing $4.8million. dollars.
Good luck!

Posted by Madandtired, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 4, 2010 at 8:41 pm

What on earth are they thinking? It's like one big 3 ring circuse. This is our money they are throwing around for their own selfish self centered, edoidic, ideas
What can we do?

Posted by Frank, a resident of Southgate
on Mar 4, 2010 at 8:42 pm

All the winers should go get an education, build a resume, and maybe do something more than post on this website, and maybe, you also could earn an executive salary. Oh but wait, you would rather bash on executives from the comfort of your glass house. Like it or not, top professionals make money, like it or not..That is their reward for all their hard work. Don't complain because you can't compete. Did it ever cross your mind that maybe top earners have student loans to pay back...because they applied for them and were not handed free educations like all the minorities in the state. I guess a successful white woman is fair game on this site.

Posted by Eric, a resident of Meadow Park
on Mar 4, 2010 at 10:24 pm

Why is it that Palo Alto has almost double the number of staff than Mountain View when both cities have roughly the same size population?

Posted by William, a resident of Walter Hays School
on Mar 4, 2010 at 11:53 pm

Any reasonable observer of Jim Keene in action would soon recognize greatness when they saw it. 'Great', however, does not mean miracle worker. Our City has some tough, embedded problems; the biggest among them is bloated labor and benefits expense obligations plus over $500 million of aging infrastructure.

The good news is that our City debt is so low, Palo Alto continues to be among, I believe, just 3 cities in California meriting the highest AAA bond rating possible. And Palo Alto has a diversified list of sources of income, albeit most of the sources are experiencing down years from their peaks. You can feel we are working our way out of the income malaise, but the challenges remain daunting.

My suggestion: give Jim Keene time (3 to 5 years) to work his management team into shape so it can successfully tackle the tough challenges ahead and lead us to better times.

Posted by Deborah, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 5, 2010 at 9:29 am

The City of Palo Alto has been complaining about rising costs and how they need to cut costs. It appears they are not listening to what they are saying. By hiring an individual, qualified or not, with a six figure salary is ridiculous. The people that are affected by this are the staff who have to take a cut in pay by not working on certain days. Is this fair? I feel that everyone who is employed by the City of Palo Alto who makes six figures take a 10% pay cut. That way everyone would benefit.

Posted by Red Meat, a resident of another community
on Mar 5, 2010 at 9:50 am

Time to subtract not add positiions. There is a big recession going on.

If the City Manager is in need of an ego boost, just put a big star next to his name on his office door instead of inflating the number of his office staff complement.

Posted by neighbor, a resident of another community
on Mar 5, 2010 at 10:33 am

Not one letter of support and hope that the city's mess will finally get straightened out.

What I don't understand is why Ms. Antil and the other 152 applicants would want to work for Palo Alto. The salary isn't enough to compensate for the "tsuris." She's signing up to help straighten out the $$$ situation in Palo Alto, and endure constant complaints and personal attacks from a selfish and cantankerous few in the city.

What an opportunity.

Posted by George, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 5, 2010 at 11:15 am

We need an expert in COST CUTTING. Green initiatives? Does that mean spending lots of Green Dollars upfront to "save" money on energy in the future. Will she be running an ROI on those investments?

When will our city leaders wake up??????????????

This is NOT helping.

Posted by opus, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 5, 2010 at 3:56 pm

finally the recession is over! finally we can now afford to hire more management employees to continue our recovery! finally we won't have to hear the city manager bemoan that there is no light at the end of the tunnel! finally city council can concentrate on important issues like...well whatever they are they can concentrate on them. finally the public and media can focus on something other than employee pay as $200,000 per year is a drop in the bucket! finally we have six managers working in the city managers office to assure every detail of our recovery is documented. finally....

Posted by Joe, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 5, 2010 at 5:34 pm

> Palo Alto continues to be among, I believe, just
> 3 cities in California meriting the highest AAA
> bond rating possible

There are many inputs into a bond rating. Most Bond Rating Agencies will tell you that the most important factor is the ability of the property owners to pay back the bond, over its lifetime. This means more about the people, and the local economy than it does about the jurisdiction's management.

And then .. if the Bond Rating Agency has had anything to do with Mortgage Backed Securities and/or AIG .. then maybe its AAA rating doesn't mean that much ..

Posted by Longtime resident, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 6, 2010 at 8:39 am

Executives have have important jobs and have to make difficult and unpopular decisions at times for what they feel is the best thing to do in a situation. They may be right and they may be wrong in their views and decisions, but that's true for every human being walking on this planet. Just because people have degrees and maybe worked hard to get where they are doesn't mean they can clean up financially when times are very difficult. Will some of the low paid city workers be either laid off or have their hours cut? How will that affect their lives -- and doesn't that mean city services would be cut because their is less staff. Are the executives doing their part in helping to get the city back on its feet?

Posted by cc, a resident of Southgate
on Mar 6, 2010 at 11:30 am

Ms. Antil sounds very qualified. This has opened the door for Mr. Keene to be asked to leave. Is there a recall process? The City Council appoints the City Manager, so I doubt it...
Keene will be laughing all the way to the bank while the fifedom perishes.
Assumably, Ms. Antil was hired under the new retirement formula imposed on the rest of the City lackeys (2% @ 60), but somehow I doubt they have changed that for the "Platinum Club" level employees.
"The King is in his counting house out his money; The Queen is in the parlour, eating bread and honey..."

Posted by John, a resident of Meadow Park
on Mar 7, 2010 at 3:33 pm

$195,000 plus benefits to fill a "position" that's been vacant for 2 years? Are the gods crazy? People wake up, we are being fleeced! If you get 153 qualified applicants for a job in the private sector, lower the salary. Not so for the tax takers ... No wonder the tax takers kept the process secret!

Posted by neighbor, a resident of another community
on Mar 8, 2010 at 10:46 am

195k is NOT ENOUGH salary for having to deal with some of the characters in PA while trying to re-work the city's financial situation.

Posted by SuperD, a resident of Community Center
on Mar 8, 2010 at 4:50 pm

If you consider the wages that we will pay the combined James Keene and Pamela Antil team, it's pretty staggering. Seems like maybe we have too many chiefs and not enough indians up in city hall. Sorry if that's not PC to say - it's just a sayin'...

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