The website RialtoNow exclusively reported on the abrupt resignation of city manager Rod Foster. Foster will leave his position after only 16 months on the job. There is speculation his departure is due to a presumed toxic relationship with the current mayor and council, however, Foster has attributed his leaving on personal reasons. The mayor and council must now grapple with the hiring of a city manager and replacing every department head after their departure as well.
“As a former long-term, top city executive, I’ve seen this many times and it doesn’t happen overnight,” said Mike Taylor, a current candidate for city council. “It takes years to manifest itself as a cultural behavior of city leadership.”
According to RialtoNow tension was brewing when Foster became aware of possible conflict of interest issues with CDBG funds given to the mayors daughters organization.
City Manager Rod Foster said the special audit, which will be conducted by the Riverside accounting firm Teaman, Ramirez & Smith, will examine federal grant funding received by all community-based organizations and nonprofits, not just Bethune Center.
Tensions continued as Rod Foster worked to try and deal with the $150 million in unfunded liabilities that Rialto is obligated to pay, as well as balance a budget that was on the brink of bankruptcy. Constant battling with the Mayor and trying to right the financial ship of the city, while reports continue to surface that Mayor Robertson has been fighting Foster for trying to make things right. Another part to the frustration of the City Manager is the backlash the audits findings caused.
According to those close to city hall the audit of the Bethune Center-NCNW has been a source of concern for the City Manager. Supporters from that community have made it hard for him to do his job and that coupled with the barriers from elected officials his health has begun to deteriorate.
Meanwhile, eight department heads have left, with all departments currently being run by interim staff.
“The fact that most key executive positions are filled by interim employees are symptomatic of city leadership and could be construed as either attempting to gain political control or it is hard to recruit due to the city’s reputation,” said Taylor.
Foster’s last day as city manager is October 23 with the top order of business for the incoming council, will be to find a suitable candidate for city manager.
Mayor Deborah Robertson faces Ed Palmer and Lupe Camacho on the November 3 ballot. While Taylor seeks his first term as council member.