Morro Bay Hires New City Manager Amidst Employment Dispute

Morro Bay has hired a new city manager, but his reception hasn’t been without controversy.

Retired Army Col. David Buckingham was approved Monday in a 5-0 vote after being selected from a pool of 50 candidates. However, Council Member Nancy Johnson now says she regrets the vote, not having learned until Tuesday that he had a claim against the City of Bishop in a contractual dispute over a position that he was given and then turned down for.

The City Council was already aware of another controversy involving Buckingham when it voted to approve his appointment on Monday. That controversy surrounded an incident on July 4 of last year in which Buckingham lost his temper and used profanity against a military officer at a U.S. Army Base. As a result of the incident, Buckingham was relieved of duty and reassigned by the Army to director of environmental services at the Pentagon.

Johnson still has no reservations about that incident (Buckingham was later cleared of any unethical conduct by a subsequent investigation). But the claim against Bishop is another story.

“Regarding the issue in Bishop, we moved ahead with this without full information,” Johnson said.

Interim City Manager Ed Krein defended his vetting process and said he only learned of a $38,000 settlement between Bishop and Buckingham on Tuesday. Buckingham has said Bishop’s decision to retract the employment offer was due to no fault of his own.

Buckingham’s resume includes over 25 years of military experience. From 2011 to 2013, he held the position of commander of the U.S. Army garrison in Vicenza, Italy.

Final approval for Buckingham’s hiring is set for August 26. He is expected to begin at the end of September at a base salary of $160,000.

Read more about David Buckingham here.