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Tempe Gives Six-Figure Salary To New City Manager Behind Woke Reforms, COVID Lockdowns

July 5, 2023

By Corinne Murdock |

Last week, the city of Tempe approved a $315,000 salary for their new city manager, Rosa Inchausti, a principal figure behind Tempe’s diversity initiatives, police reform, and COVID-19 lockdowns.

The $315,000 salary is just the low end of what Inchausti may make in the near future. Incahusti may receive an annual merit step increase of up to five percent of her salary based on her performance beginning this week, or up to $15,750. 

Inchausti is a 30-year veteran of the Tempe government who began as a marriage and family counselor for the city but for the past 20 years has led on progressive reforms for the city.

Inchausti was appointed the director to the city’s first diversity program in 2002, after the city faced a discrimination lawsuit and an investigation from then-Attorney General Janet Napolitano into the town for alleged workplace discrimination. (Ten years later, Napolitano would face a discrimination lawsuit of her own while leading the Department of Homeland Security, ultimately settling on the allegations that she permitted discrimination against male staffers). The diversity program quickly became a model that other cities sought to emulate. 

Four years into her tenure as Tempe’s first diversity director, Wrangler News interviewed Inchausti on her claims that her diversity work had improved employee morale. However, a follow-up audit at the time saw an increase in employees who reported witnessing or experiencing inappropriate treatment, and a coalition of residents and former employees were challenging the city council on the city’s work environment. 

In 2014, Inchausti concocted Tempe’s Anti-Discrimination Ordinance.

That ordinance prohibits discrimination on sexual orientation, gender identity, familial status, military status, disability, and national origin, in addition to the traditional Civil Rights protections of race, color, religion, gender, and age. Due to Inchausti, the Diversity Office investigates complaints of alleged discrimination concerning employment, public accommodations, and housing. 

In November 2021, the city added CROWN Act hairstyle protections to their Anti-Discrimination Ordinance. Meaning: employers, public accommodations, and housing providers may not discriminate against someone based on their hair texture, type, or style if “historically associated” with race. 

Following her creation of the Anti-Discrimination Ordinance, the city promoted Inchausti to the Strategic Management and Diversity Director.  

While serving in that directorship role, Inchausti convinced the city in March 2020 to engage in wastewater testing for the presence of COVID-19. The idea came from Inchausti’s launch of a similar testing program for opioids that began in 2018. Officials used wastewater testing to track COVID-19 hotspots and issue quarantines. 

Although datasets weren’t available until 5 to 7 days after the purported carrier flushes their toilet, Tempe relied on the wastewater data to isolate communities — consequently targeting populations regardless of whether they were symptomatic or not. The city relied on over a million dollars in taxpayer funding to run the program in partnership with Arizona State University (ASU).

Inchausti was responsible for quarantining Tempe residents based on wastewater results despite the city admitting that wastewater doesn’t indicate infection, with some residents moved out of their homes and into local motels to quarantine. In a November 2020 interview with the Washington Examiner, Inchausti said she envisioned wastewater testing as a means of preemptive, forced quarantine for future pandemics.

“I think this is a game changer for public health,” said Inchausti. “I think this is how cities should be managed. The power in this is knowing where the virus is before people are showing symptoms or being tested. So, the asymptomatic is where we need to focus.”

Also in 2020, following the summer of Black Lives Matter riots prompted by the death of George Floyd, Tempe sought to “modernize” its practice of policing. In a webinar event last summer, Inchausti and Wydale Holmes, an interim director of the Innovation and Strategic Management Office, unveiled alternative law enforcement structures. 

Tempe proposed an alternative, equity-focused 911 emergency response system to reduce reliance on police. Part of the alternative system includes diverting 911 calls to unarmed social services personnel responsible for mental illness and drug-related calls. 

They’ve also begun deploying civilians to respond to scenes concerning vehicle accidents, non-violent animal calls, property crimes where the suspect isn’t present, forgery, theft reports, online reports, parking violations, crime prevention education, community conflict mediations, homeless assistance, drug usage, code enforcement, animal complaints, and city park nuisances.

As part of the police reform, Tempe divested funding from police into social services. 

Inchausti’s department also led on the city’s “Right to Breathe” initiative, also prompted by Floyd’s death. The city’s report on the initiative euphemized the riots as “local Tempe events.” Proposals in the report focused on disparate, favorable treatment for minority communities justified as equity work, such as offering those communities exclusive financial benefits, work opportunities, internships, and trainings.

Under Inchausti, the city also achieved recognition and partnership with “What Works Cities” — an initiative funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies and led by Results For America. The former organization was created by Democratic billionaire and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. 

The latter organization was co-founded by two former Obama administration officials: David Medina, formerly the deputy chief of staff for First Lady Michelle Obama as well as Democratic National Convention Committee deputy CEO, an AFL-CIO union legislative representative, Democratic National Committee policy director; and Michele Jolin, senior fellow for American Progress and formerly the Obama White House’s senior advisor for social innovation, as well as a member of Obama’s presidential transition team where she created the White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation and their social innovation policy agenda.

In their hiring of Inchausti, the city of Tempe lauded her as the first female to take over the position of city manager. 

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to

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