City hires new finance director

Jennifer Hennessy takes a job in Temecula

Chico’s finance director, Jennifer Hennessy, has taken a similar job in the Southern California city of Temecula. Friday, April 12, is her last day.

During her eight years here Hennessy came under intense criticism from some council members and private citizens as the city struggled to balance its budget, but annual audits of her department’s work were always glowing.

Hennessy said her job is to make recommendations and provide status reports. “We don’t make the decisions.” When asked if her decision to go was a desire to find a new job or get out of Chico, she replied, “I’d say it was probably both.”

Her replacement, Chris Constantin, was hired out of San Diego, where he’s served as assistant city auditor. According to the Voice of San Diego news website, Constantin and city Auditor Eduardo Luna were under investigation over allegations that they “created a hostile work environment and retaliated against employees.”

Chico City Manager Brian Nakamura told the Voice that he knew of the investigations but wasn’t surprised. Good auditors, Nakamura said, attract controversy, and that’s what he believed had happened with Constantin.

Constantin will make $130,000 a year as finance director and then jump to $160,000 when he becomes administrative services director. Even if that falls through, his contract states, he’ll bump up to $160,000 beginning June 1.