Hiring fills four-month void left by Steven Latino’s December departure
■ By Melissa Diaz Hernandez / Reporter
After a four-month vacancy that left Nino Abad as Hemet’s acting engineering director/city engineer, the city made its selection to replace Steven Latino, who resigned in December 2016, from a pool of 24 candidates.
The council, in a 4-1 vote, approved hiring Derek Wieske as the engineering director/city engineer at the April 11 Hemet City Council meeting. Mayor Pro Tem Michael Perciful was the lone “no” vote. Councilwoman Karlee Meyer commented that she did not get to meet Wieske until the night she voted to approve him for the position asking, “Has anyone else on council met him?”
As he approached the podium, Wieske said “I am going to be presumptuous and assume you’re going to approve the agreement this evening so, I’d like to thank the council and the city manager for this opportunity to serve the city of Hemet as your director of engineering and city engineer.” His first official day will be April 24.
The candidates went through two rounds of interviews. The first round of interviews included all 24 candidates who were interviewed by a professional panel comprised of Hemet’s public works director, Lake Hemet Municipal Water District assistant general manager/chief engineer, and Temecula’s public works director/city engineer.
Round two whittled the large pool of hopefuls down to the final two candidates, both of whom were interviewed by Hemet City Manager Alex Meyerhoff and Community Development Director Deanna Elliano on March 23, at which time Wieske was selected as the preferred candidate.
Upon introducing Wieske, Meyerhoff stated that Wieske “was the top candidate in both interview pools, so we are very excited to have him and that he is coming to join our staff.”
Wieske will receive a salary of $127,800 and a $500 monthly vehicle allowance. The contract states “During out of area travels, while on City business, the City shall provide for fuel purchases or reimbursement at the IRS rate. Wieske shall provide evidence of a liability insurance policy in an amount of not less than $100,000, naming the City as additional insured. The vehicle allowance shall be paid to Wieske on a prorated basis per payroll check.” Latino’s contract was almost identical.
The council, in a 4-1 vote, approved hiring Derek Wieske as the engineering director/city engineer at the April 11 Hemet City Council meeting.”
The termination clause states that “City may terminate Wieske for any reason, and at any time, without cause by providing Wieske fourteen (14) days prior written notice thereof. Wieske shall be entitled to four and one-half months’ base salary, less applicable deductions, plus applicable accrued PTO and sick leave as provided herein together with any extension of benefits required under California and federal law. City may dismiss Wieske notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained in or arising from any Personnel Policies or past City practices relating to the employment, discipline, or termination of its employees.”
Wieske’s contract states that he “may not be terminated, except for cause, within one hundred eighty (180) days of the appointment of a new city manager.”
Wieske holds graduate degrees in business administration and civil engineering from California State University, Long Beach. He was the city of Vernon’s public works director and Rancho Santa Margarita’s public works director and city engineer. Wieske was hired in February 2016 by the city of Vernon, an industrial city with a population of approximately 112, the smallest incorporated city in the state. At 5.2 square miles and located several miles southeast of Downtown Los Angeles, the city of Vernon is home to more than 1,800 businesses employing 50,000 people.