Cavazos and Zuercher

Assistant City Manager Ed Zuercher looks on as David Cavazos addresses the media during a press conference Thursday, March 3, 2011.

Allison Hurtado Ahwatukee Foothills News

The Phoenix City Council has assigned Assistant City Manager Ed Zuercher to take over as interim city manager when David Cavazos leaves the city in October.

“While the Council has until the middle of December to name an interim city manager, according to City Charter, my colleagues and I took quick action to ensure a seamless transition in leadership,” City Councilman Daniel Valenzuela said in a statement. “City Manager David Cavazos has done an outstanding job guiding the city through one of the most challenging economic times in our nation’s history. I am confident that Ed Zuercher has the experience and knowledge to keep Phoenix moving in a positive direction until a new city manager is named.”

Valenzuela has promised the city will conduct a national search for a new city manager. Cavazos is leaving in October to take a position in Santa Ana, Calif.

“We are a world-class city with world-class talent,” Valenzuela said. “While it is possible that our next city manager is an internal candidate, the people of Phoenix deserve and expect the very best. Therefore, a national search is the right thing to do.”

Cavazos’s move to California has been widely criticized. He was recently awarded a large pay raise by the City Council and he will have the option to cash in unused sick and vacation days when he leaves, which would inflate his long-term pension. The practice is called pension spiking.

Mayor Greg Stanton has said that the next city manager the city hires will not have the same option.

“As I’ve said before, pension spiking undermines the public’s trust that compensation for our employees is fair — it needs to end,” Stanton said in a statement.

City Council members Sal DiCiccio, Thelda Williams and Jim Waring have sent a formal request to Mayor Stanton requesting that he schedule a public hearing on pension spiking right away. The council members would like to vote to get rid of the practice immediately, rather than wait for it to be negotiated out of employee contracts.

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