Jessica Binnquist becomes city manager amid some opposition

Photo by David Muñoz.

Location

Alhambra , CA United States

The Alhambra City Council voted 4-0 to appoint Jessica Binnquist as city manager on Monday, citing her capabilities as a city administrator as the reason.

A few members of Grassroots Alhambra, a local advocacy group, spoke in opposition to Binnquist’s appointment, citing her managing of federal funding as reason why she shouldn’t get the job. One member, Eric Sunada, said that Binnquist advocated for using $8 million in income from the Department of Housing and Urban Development on a wasteful parking structure, when that money was meant for Alhambra’s low income residents.

City Council members defended Binnquist, saying that any policy position she took was at the direction of the City Council, and that the City of Alhambra had never been found to have misused HUD funds. They praised her capability as a city administrator.

*Eric Sunada is a member of the Alhambra Source’s advisory board.

3 thoughts on “Jessica Binnquist becomes city manager amid some opposition”

  1. Here’s a related article about Alhambra but reported on this outlet out of Pasadena. https://coloradoboulevard.net/are-alhambras-contracts-with-chamber-of-commerce-appropriate/. Alhambra Source should write something on this, too.

  2. A starting annual salary of almost $240K sounds excessive for a small city like Alhambra, especially for an administrator who currently only holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Azusa Pacific. But then again, maybe having previously worked for the City of San Marino has something to do with it?

  3. Grassroots Alhambra

    You’re burying the lede. Whether it’s a parking structure, cash to a car dealership, lighting for a soccer field, or street improvements, using block grant funding of this scale for such purposes is a failure. A one-time windfall of $8M presents unique opportunities that when leveraged with state programs essentially doubles its value toward projects that truly make a difference to help the target population.

    As the manager of the block grant program, Ms. Binnquist has a responsibility to provide complete and objective information, pros and cons, alternatives, and long-term consequences pertaining to various options to both council and the public. Staff reports show no such work being done. If council directed Ms. Binnquist to stifle such information and studies, that’s a serious violation of the public trust that carries legal ramifications. So which is it: did Ms. Binnquist take it upon herself to improperly plan for this funding? Or, is she simply a “yes”-person who would blindly follow direction from a misguided city council at the expense of those to which this funding belongs? Either way, such cases usually result in disciplinary action instead of promotion as the city’s CEO.

    It must be also corrected for the record that the City of Alhambra was found to have violated federal rules for such grant funds in the past. In 2012, federal auditors had the following findings: 1) the city did not maintain the required exhibits and documentation to enable auditors to determine whether funds were spent on eligible activities; and 2) code enforcement activities that were not benefiting the lower income areas were nevertheless being funded by this block grant source.

    This comment is in response to remarks made by city council. It touches on only one aspect of our opposition to Ms. Binnquist’s appointment. There’s much more.

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