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Council changes interim city managers, with retired CAO Hahn replacing Police Chief Madden

The Chico City Council convenes a special meeting Wednesday night (April 14), leading to a second interim city manager, this time in place of Matt Madden (far right). (Photo by Evan Tuchinsky)

For the second time in three weeks, Chico has a new interim city manager.

The City Council appointed Paul Hahn, former Butte County chief administrative officer, at a special meeting Wednesday night (April 13)—returning previous appointee Matt Madden to his position as police chief. Hahn becomes interim city manager effective Monday (April 18).

Wednesday’s appointment, on a unanimous vote, follows the council’s decision March 25 to replace Mark Orme, city manager for eight years. That culminated six hours of closed-session deliberations over two special meetings that week, with Madden unaware he’d been chosen to fill the post until the public announcement.

Wednesday night, the council sequestered for two hours before City Attorney Vince Ewing made the announcement, by which time Madden had left City Council chambers but, according to Mayor Andrew Coolidge, knew the outcome. The closed session included job interviews of “two very amazing candidates,” the mayor said after the announcement, declining to identify the other person considered

“We actually had some terrific choices for the interim position, and Paul obviously came out on top,” Coolidge said after the announcement. “I think his experience with the county, his knowledge of the city and what’s happening, his skills working with the county but also managing an organization much larger than ours have been well-proven, and I think he’s the perfect choice to lead us through this time period while we do a recruitment for a permanent position.”

Former Butte County Chief Administrative Officer Paul Hahn becomes Chico’s interim city manager effective Monday (April 18). (CN&R file photo)

Coolidge made similar comments about Madden, telling the CN&R after that appointment: “I believe he [Madden] has the leadership to get us through this time. He certainly has the knowledge about city issues and city matters that we need at the helm right now. I’m very confident he can do the job and get us through this transition.”

Asked what may have changed, the mayor responded: “You can address that with Chief Madden, you would be welcome to do that, but I can’t disclose personal information of his.” (Madden did not respond to a request for comment.) The recruitment for another interim city manager began after the last council meeting, April 5, three days after he officially took over for Orme.

In a written announcement, to which Coolidge referred, the council praised Madden’s “willingness to step in and shore up the organization during the current recruitment process. His ability to lead in difficult times has always been self-evident, and the council sincerely thanks him for his continued service to the community.”

Madden will assist Hahn’s transition before heading back to the Chico Police Department, where Capt. Billy Aldridge has served as interim chief. Coolidge added that the city intends to have a permanent city manager on board in July; a national recruitment is underway.

Hahn spent seven years as Butte County’s CAO and 29 years in county government, mostly in Sacramento. He retired in October 2017. Coolidge said Hahn, 62, “is taking the job as an interim, knows it’s an interim and wants it as an interim.” The CN&R was unable to reach Hahn for comment.

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