It was well known at City Hall that Deputy City Manager Johnny Ford was looking for work elsewhere before he was fired in July. Ford listed as a reference former City Manager Gordon Palmer, who fired Ford.

Palmer was included as a reference in November, when Ford applied to be assistant city manager of Santa Monica, according to an e-mail provided by the city in response to a California Public Records Act request.

Ford, in turn, was a reference for former Stockton-San Joaquin County Public Library Director Natalie Rencher, who was laid off this year. Ford had in his e-mail a letter from a recruiting firm regarding Rencher’s application to be assistant director of public services in Los Angeles County. Ford also responded to a request from a recruiting firm regarding her application to be director of the Cleveland Public Library.

In response to a question from Cleveland about Rencher’s ability to work with union leadership, Ford wrote:

Natalie has worked very hard to forge an open relationship with all of the unions and their representation. She has established monthly meetings and an open door policy to hear and discuss issues with employees and union representatives. I fell very strongly that she has the ability to continue facilitating these types of relationships.

Later, Ford wrote:

I would like to add that Natalie has developed a thick skin and is fair, honest, ethical, and has integrity. She treats others with dignity and respect and has been an agent of change for the library, by improving library outreach to the community and developing creative community based library programs and services. Since day one Natalie has been innovative, and has been remarkably flexible to any new situation or challenge presented to her. From holding the Library’s first-ever library summit to giving passionate budget presentations to elected officials. Natalie is by far a committed professional library leader and will be a valued member of any organization who can see the special gifts she brings to her career and any community she humbly serves.

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