The search is over: La Puente finally hires city manager

LA PUENTE – After more than a year with an interim city manager, La Puente has hired a permanent chief executive.
Josefina Mendez Kenline — who has been working as a part-time volunteer for the city and served as the assistant to city managers in Colton and Indio — will begin work Tuesday.
Her first order of business will be getting more familiar with people who live an work in La Puente, she said.
“I am looking forward to getting out into the community and getting to know the people, because in my opinion that’s where real life happens,” said Kenline, who lives in Yucaipa and hopes to move closer soon.
She replaced interim City Manager Frank Tripepi, who has acted as chief executive since Carol Crowley retired from the post in September 2008.
While Mendez Kenline, 47, has never served as an executive in any city, City Council members were impressed with her 20 years experience in municipal government and her ability to get along with the city’s staff, said Mayor Louie Lujan.
“She offered some volunteer hours in the city manager’s department and the entire staff and council got to know her,” he said. “She served for a number of cities, she had a good wealth of training in a lot of positions. She’s well cross-trained.”
Mendez Kenline will be paid $160,000, according to a contract approved unanimously at a Nov. 24 council meeting. If she gets fired within the first year, she will get nine months serverance pay, and she will get a year’s pay if she fired after that, according to the contract.
Mendez Kenline immediately will face a bevy of redevelopment issues in the working-class city of about 40,000 residents.
The city’s largest sales-tax producer, Ed Butts Ford, has been pressuring the city to offer redevelopment assistance for expansion and advertising. But the city has declined, setting off a war of words between council members and the Iannone family, which owns the dealership.
Another major issue is the redevelopment of the former bowling alley site on Hacienda Boulevard.
The city in 2004 began an effort to purchase and redevelop the 6.5 acre site, but it still remains vacant.
And the city could soon begin to craft a plan to take advantage of an NFL stadium proposed for neighboring Industry, which would be built if developer Ed Roski Jr. is able to bring a team to the Los Angeles market.
The council doesn’t expect Kenline to tackle everything at once, Lujan said.
“We’re taking it a day at a time,” he said. “She’s going to have a plate full of items to look at.”