Ken Hampian has received the City Staff of the Year Award from PublicCEO for his work as interim CAO of Bell, California. The small city was marred by scandal in 2010 when its CAO Robert Rizzo and seven other city officials were arrested for felony charges including misappropriation of public funds and falsifying official records. By 2011 Bell was struggling, and trust between the city’s management team and the local population was strained. Hampian’s work as interim CAO marked a turning point for Bell, laying the groundwork for reform and restoring the public’s faith in their local government.
Getting the city back on track was an onerous task, one that most qualified city managers were hesitant to take on. Without guidance the city continued to flounder. Then, in July of 2011, the International City/County Management Association (ICMA), California City Management Foundation (CCMF) and the League of California Cities (LCC) joined forces to conduct a concerted recruiting effort to help Bell find the leadership it so sorely needed. The individual who accepted the challenge was Ken Hampian.
Hampian, the retired City Manager of San Luis Obispo, agreed to take the job of interim CAO, pro bono, for one month to help the city to get back on track and find a longer term CAO. In that time, he found his successor, coordinated an extended team of pro bono assistants to utilize their wide-ranging skills, and helped the new city council set goals for local recovery. “The past leadership of (Bell) obviously did great harm to the community and the city government,” Hampian said, “but harm was also done to the City Management profession and to public servants in general. This was an opportunity to show Bell what honest, ethical, professional service can do for a community.”
In acknowledgment of his contribution to the profession of city management, CCMF nominated Hampian for the PublicCEO Local Government Award for City Staff of the Year. This is the third year that PublicCEO has given the award, which has become an integral part of the organization’s ongoing efforts to highlight the best municipal practices around the state.
“Recognition by PublicCEO is a great honor that I wish to share with Interim City Manager Arne Croce, Bell’s staff, and the many volunteers who have been inspired to serve in Bell,” said Hampain. “This collective effort has exemplified what authentic public service and professional staff support can do for a community.”
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