Transitions: Marshall County, AL; Sheboygan, MI; Kinston, NC and more

Marshall County, Alabama (population 93,019): Marshall County Administrator Nancy R. Wilson announced her impending retirement in a joint press release with the Marshall County Commission. And she intends to enjoy it. Wilson, an Albertville resident, is retiring Nov. 1 and will remain on administrative leave till the effective date. Attorneys for Wilson and the Commission had been working on a settlement to avoid litigation after Chairman James Hutcheson placed Wilson on administrative leave with pay and without explanation Sept. 1. Officials did not release details of the settlement or explain the reason for Wilson’s sudden and surprising departure. Commissioners plan to fill the position and requested an opinion from the Alabama Attorney General to determine the proper procedure for hiring a new county administrator. Commissioners are asking the AG for clarification on what legislative act they should use to hire the new administrator. Wilson served as county administrator for four years after being hired during former Chairman Douglas D. Fleming’s administration. She previously worked for the Dallas County Commission for seven years, for the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs for eight years and for the Alabama State Department of Education for nine years. Wilson plans to stay in Albertville for now and enjoy the time with her daughter. Read more at the Sand Mountain Reporter.

Sheboygan, Michigan (population 46,845): The Sheboygan Common Council, with the help of two tie-breaking votes by Mayor Bob Ryan, Monday night voted to create a city administrator’s position, effectively stripping Ryan of many of his duties, while rejecting the recommendations of one of its committees. Finance Director Jim Amodeo will be promoted to city administrator and current Deputy Finance Director Nancy Buss will be named city treasurer, effective next Monday. Last week, the city’s Salaries and Grievances Committee, in a pair of 3-to-1 votes, voted to promote Amodeo to interim administrator and that the positions of finance director and deputy finance director remain in the city’s table of organization, even though they wouldn’t be filled. But Monday night, two votes — one to remove the term “interim” and one that calls for Amodeo to fill the position through the length of his contract, which runs through August 2015 — ended in a 7-7 tie. Ryan voted yes for the amendments so that they each passed 8-7.

Ald. David Van Akkeren and Darryl Carlson argued that making the job interim and leaving the finance director in the table of organization would eventually create added expense cause instability in city government. Bohren and Versey argued that making it an interim position would allow the city to search for a better qualified administrator than Amodeo, who has no experience in public administration, and that removing him from office would be more difficult if he’s allowed to serve out his contract as city administrator.

Ald. Don Hammond said Amodeo has done a good job for the city and was part of a nationwide search that drew 30 applicants for the finance director position. Versey said, “We did a search for a finance director, not a city administrator.”

Under the plan passed Monday night, all department heads, including the fire and police chiefs, would report to the administrator on budgetary and other administrative issues, essentially stripping Ryan and future mayors of overseeing most of the city’s day-to-day operations. The administrator would report only to the Common Council president. The top three Common Council officers — president, vice president and Committee of the Whole chairman — but not the mayor, would evaluate the administrator.

The idea of a city administrator has been discussed for years, but the latest push came from the recent controversy concerning Ryan’s drinking binge in Elkhart Lake at the end of July and his subsequent refusal to resign or take a leave of absence to seek treatment. There also is support among some aldermen to make the mayor’s job part-time at a lower salary. Those changes could not occur until the start of the next mayoral term in April 2013. Some aldermen have said they support a public referendum on changing the mayor’s job description. Such a referendum would have to be put on February’s ballot to be in effect when the next term starts, City Attorney Steve McLean has said. Read more at the Sheboygan Press.

Kinston, North Carolina (population 20,048): Although many in the community wanted Kinston officials to look close to home when selecting a new city manager, local leaders looked to a small city more than 150 miles to the west to find their man. Tony Sears, 34, who is currently serving as Randleman’s city manager, was tapped as Kinston’s newest city manager Monday. The members of the City Council, after having met with Sears several times, voted unanimously to approve his contract. Sears is scheduled to start work Nov. 2. Before coming to Kinston, Sears spent nearly seven years as city manager of the town of Randleman. The town of about 3,600 people is nestled in Randolph County, part of the greater Greensboro area. Sears is married with two sons, ages 9 and 7. He graduated from Appalachian State University in 2000 with a bachelor’s degree in political science, with a concentration in town, city and county government. He also minored in community planning and history. Sears earned his Master’s of Public Administration from ASU in 2002. In addition to serving as Randleman’s city manager, Sears interned with the town of Troy in 2000 and Apex in 2001. He was town manager for Kenly in 2002 and 2003. Sears will take over the reins from Interim City Manager Bill Ellis, who has been at City Hall since July 1. Ellis will return to his post as director of the Kinston-Lenoir County Department of Parks and Recreation. Ellis stepped in as interim manager after former City Manager Scott Stevens announced this past spring that he would serve as Goldsboro’s city manager. Stevens had spent four years as city manager and had worked for the City of Kinston since the late 1990s. Read more at ENCToday.

Hyattsville, Maryland (population 15,570): After less than one year of service, Hyattsville City Administrator Gregory Rose has resigned, effective Oct. 7. After a three-hour closed session discussion, the City Council voted 7-4 to accept Rose’s resignation letter, which was dated Oct. 1. He will be paid until Jan. 18, the end of his contract, but his last day of work will be this Friday. Rose offered the council two options in his letter—either leave his post now or stay on board until his contract end date. The council, despite protest from several of its members, decided on option one. No reason was given for Rose’s departure, but over the past couple months the council has, during public meetings, repeatedly criticized Rose’s work. At Monday’s meeting, several council members, including Mayor Marc Tartaro, told Rose they were concerned about his lack of progress on hiring a human resources manager for the city. Rose said he was unclear on the council’s wishes, adding that it did not provide him clear direction. It is not yet clear who will serve as acting city administrator. Vincent Jones, former assistant city administrator, resigned his post last summer. In times past, Hyattsville Police Chief Douglas Holland has served as acting administrator while former administrator Elaine Murphy was on leave. Read more at the Hyattsville Patch.

Dickson, Tennessee (population 13,499): Through tear-filled eyes, city of Dickson mayor Don Weiss read a letter of resignation from City Administrator Tom Waychoff at Monday’s monthly city council meeting. Waychoff has been city administrator for 10 years and is fighting cancer. Weiss said he recieved the letter on Sept. 23. Waychoff’s last official day on the job is Friday.

Crookston, Minnesota (population 7,737): Two things are known for certain regarding the future of the City of Crookston administrator position: One, Aaron Parrish’s last day on the job is Nov. 11 and he’ll start his new administrator job in Forest Lake on Nov. 14. Second, City Clerk/Treasurer Betty Arvidson has been recommended to serve as interim administrator, a capacity she served in after Ray Ecklund retired and before Parrish was hired. Arvidson was a finalist for the permanent job when Parrish was hired in 2004, but has indicated she will not be a candidate this time around. But after that, city officials have to decide how they’re going to go about finding a successor to Parrish. The Administrative Committee this evening will likely decide whether or not the city should handle the recruitment of candidates on its own, or retain an outside firm to handle the process on the council’s behalf, which would involve announcing the position, researching the salary range, advertising, reviewing applications, selecting finalists, developing interview questions, facilitating the interview process, checking references and negotiating a contract. In a memo to the committee, Parrish states that the city has solicited proposals from two firms that have coordinated many administrator searches in cities across Minnesota. The committee will go over the proposals tonight. In addition, the committee is expected to formally designate Arvidson as interim city administrator. She is expected to receive a 15 percent bump in pay as interim administrator. Read more at the Crookston Times.

Camden, Maine (population 3,651): Outgoing Town Manager Roberta Smith has been showing the ropes to her replacement, Patricia Finnigan, this week. On Tuesday, Oct. 4, the pair met with Camden’s municipal department managers in the Tucker Room of the Camden Opera House. Both were expected to be present at a Select Board meeting that evening, scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. in the Washington Street Conference Room, and broadcast on Channel 22. Read more at the Herald Gazette.

East Spencer, North Carolina (population 1,369): The town of East Spencer hired a new administrator Monday, ending a search that took more than a year. After meeting in closed session, the Town Board of Aldermen unanimously approved the contract for Macon Sammons Jr., a former manager of Surry County. On Sept. 13, after the board interviewed Sammons for a second time, Mayor John Cowan said he is “highly qualified” for the position. Cowan said Sammons has been the manager of two counties in Virginia as well as Surry County, and he has more than 20 years of municipal management experience. Former Town Manager Donnie Jones left due to medical reasons in the spring of 2010. While East Spencer looked for someone to fill the position, town Clerk Anneissa Hyde served as interim town administrator. Read more at the Salisbury Post.

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Transparency: When should the identities of applicants for public employment be disclosed?

“The position is not designed to be a political position.” –Jefferson County, Alabama, Commissioner George Bowman

Florida has some of the most extensive “sunshine” laws in the country. Personnel records are open to public inspection unless exempted by law, including applications for employment, grievance records, resumes, salary information, and travel vouchers. If a public agency uses a private recruitment company to conduct an employment search for the agency, records made or received by the private company in connection with the search are public records. Florida courts have rejected claims that constitutional privacy interests operate to shield agency personnel records from disclosure, holding that the state constitution “does not provide a right of privacy in public records” and that a state or federal right of disclosural privacy does not exist. Read more at Government in the Sunshine.

In Michigan, information about a person being considered as a finalist for a high level public position is not of a “personal nature” for the purposes of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) privacy exemption. Once the list of candidates has been narrowed to those persons to be interviewed, the applicant’s right of privacy is outweighed by the public’s interest in knowing the applicants’ qualifications. Redaction can be used to separate confidential information from non-private information. Read more on the Michigan Attorney General’s site.

North Carolina courts, on the other hand, have held that the public does not have a right of access to know the names of candidates for public positions, even when the employing agency has narrowed to a short list of candidates under consideration. Public bodies must make hiring decisions in an open session, and therefore the public has a right of access to the meeting at which a vote is taken to hire a particular person. But the names of other candidates will forever remain secret. Read more at North Carolina Media Law.

Jefferson County, Alabama (population 658,466): The state Legislature passed a law in 2009 that mandated the county commission hire a county manager by April 1, 2011. In early 2011, the county hired Dallas-based Waters Consulting Group, a national search firm that specializes in recruiting city and county managers, to find qualified candidates. In March, lawmakers extended the deadline to June 1 to give the commission more time to find the best candidates.

On April 25, 2011, Jefferson County officials announced the selection of three finalists, selected from an initial field of 56 applicants, for the county’s first professional manager. County Commission President David Carrington identified two of the candidates. The third candidate asked that his name be withheld until next week because he had not yet notified his commissioners of his selection as a finalist. Each candidate was interviewed May 5-6 by the five commissioners. Hiring one of the finalists requires approval of four commissioners. Read more at al.com.

On May 8, a second finalist withdrew from the selection process. On May 11, 2011, a majority of Jefferson County Commissioners said that the remaining finalist to become the county’s first professional manager didn’t appear to have enough votes to be hired. At least two of the five commissioners said the county needs to ask a national search firm to come up with another slate of candidates. Commissioners, county department heads and other officials interviewed Patrick Thompson for the county manager’s job. Thompson is former county administrator for Hamilton County, Ohio, which contains Cincinnati. The following day, Thompson met with board members of the Birmingham Business Alliance, the sheriff’s office and county lawyers.

Commissioner Sandra Little Brown said the county needs more time to be deliberative, and Commissioner George Bowman said he wants more candidates to consider. Commissioner Jimmie Stephens said he thinks the jury is out on whether Thompson has enough votes, but he would like to give Thompson a chance at winning the job. Carrington said he’ll poll the commission Friday, and if Thompson has the votes for the job he’ll have a public discussion and official vote. If not, Thompson will be informed. State law gives the commission another 120 days to look for another candidate if one did not get a supermajority of commission votes by June 1. Brown said the county may need additional time to hire the right person. Read more at al.com.

On May 13, the last remaining finalist for Jefferson County’s first professional manager removed his name from consideration.

By September 13, 2011, a decision on whether to hire Hoover Mayor Tony Petelos as Jefferson County’s first professional manager was delayed after two commissioners refused to support the nomination. Commissioners Sandra Little Brown and George Bowman both said they didn’t oppose Petelos but questioned how the matter had been handled by Commission President David Carrington.

A resolution to put Petelos’ nomination to a vote of the commission unanimously passed the county’s administrative services committee, but some commissioners said later it was being rushed. No one raised concerns during the committee meeting, in which Petelos was interviewed for nearly an hour by all five commissioners, Carrington said. Bowman, who seconded the Petelos nomination in committee, said he changed his mind “in retrospect.”

The Alabama Legislature has given the commission an Oct. 1 deadline for making an offer to a prospective county manager. Carrington said he believes that could be extended by another 120 days if a selection is not made in the next three weeks. It’s unclear whether Petelos will have a supermajority by then. Brown and Bowman said many concerns remain. Read more at al.com.

Just this morning, the Jefferson County Commission unanimously selected Hoover Mayor Tony Petelos this morning to become Jefferson County’s first professional manager. The vote was taken without discussion or debate. Petelos will begin county manager duties Monday at a salary of $224,000. Read more at al.com.

Luzerne County, Pennsylvania (population 320,918): Manager matters dominated a June 2011 meeting of the Luzerne County home rule transition committee. After a debate, the committee approved an advertisement for county manager candidates, but might later reopen the subject of whether and when to reveal their names. Members differed on whether disclosing all the applicants’ names would be in the interest of transparency for the taxpayers or would scare away the best candidates. The vote was 4-2 with Rick Morelli and Chairman Jim Bobeck opposing to approve the advertisement with language by Susan Shoval, which says, “Position finalists must be willing to allow public disclosure of their resumes in order to move forward with the process.”

Shoval said she believed disclosing all candidates’ names would eliminate a lot of good ones, but that finalists must be willing to have their names released, as is done with college presidents, for example. On the other hand, Morelli felt transparency is the best policy. Bobeck opposed because he didn’t like the idea of disclosing names. Committee members were apprehensive because there were initially only six at Thursday’s meeting.

Before the committee’s discussion, several residents spoke against advertising the names of county manager candidates. Ray Gustave of West Wyoming said while he is an advocate of openness in government, he didn’t think the committee would get top-tier candidates who are willing to jeopardize their jobs in this economic climate. Ed Chesnovitch also opposed publicizing the names, saying it could lead to a lawsuit. Gene Keller of Dallas Township agreed, saying a headhunter told him at least 60 percent of the best candidates will not apply if their names are disclosed. Read more at The Standard Speaker.

Florence County, South Carolina (population 136,885): Florence County’s search for a new administrator, to replace Richard Starks who is retiring at the end of his contract this fall, has been more confusing and secretive than such searches often are because of the presence of Florence County Council Chairman K.G. “Rusty” Smith Jr. as a candidate for the post — the only announced candidate for it to date.

The candidacy of a sitting council member would complicate the issue, no matter who he or she was. South Carolina and local law don’t really address the idea, except by prohibiting it in a simultaneous instance, but it clearly fogs up the ethical windows because the selecting body (county council) includes a potential candidate. The situation is made still more complex by the persona of Smith, a councilman since 1986 and the powerful chairman of that body for almost a decade.

What does the county administrator do? He or she manages Florence County government and its almost $50 million a year budget. An administrator works with the elected officials of the county to help make sure the policy they dictate — theoretically, the will of the people — is executed in an efficient, and fiscally prudent way, by the county’s many departments and divisions.

Who is supposed to hire the administrator? The county council is delegated this responsibility. It’s the only position in county government the council hires solely and directly. That’s fairly standard practice across the state.

What are the job requirements? This would vary from county to county, but typically administrators have public administration degrees and some significant experience with budgets and accounting.

How is the decision being made here? A committee appointed by Smith is in charge of sorting through candidates and making a formal recommendation to council which will then make the final decision. That’s the public version, anyway.

Does the law allow Smith, or any other council member, to be appointed to administrator, or any other county position? As we have reported in recent weeks, there is a difference of opinion in this area. We’re not lawyers, but it seems clear to us it’s illegal to hold both an elected and an appointed position (or two elected positions) at the same time. It’s also clear that it’s unethical for Smith, or anyone else, to be involved in making an appointment decision that could affect him. The problem there, of course, is discerning whether he was involved. Some might say, “Of course he was/is, even if he’s not on the committee,” but that’s going to be pretty hard to prove.

The state’s Freedom of Information Act requires county officials to reveal the identities, and some of the qualifications of, “not less than three” candidates for the post before a final decision is made. We delivered a Freedom of Information Act request to county officials several weeks ago, asking that all candidates be disclosed. That is allowed by the FOI Act, but it is not required.

Unfortunately, county officials have indicated they will provide only “discloseable information,” which shows a continued lack of transparency, and, in our opinion, a lack of understanding with regard to the FOI requirement. The county must disclose at least three candidates. It could disclose more.

We think it should do more to prevent the tainting of a critical decision on Florence County’s path to progress. Read more at SCnow.com.

St. Helena, California (population 5,814): The St. Helena City Council agreed on June 28, 2011, not to release the names of people who have applied for the city manager job, but denied rumors that councilmembers are working behind the scenes to support a local candidate. On the advice of City Attorney John Truxaw, the council turned down a request by attorney Lester Hardy to disclose the names of applicants for the job. Hardy initially asked for all applications for the city manager position. After Finance Director and Interim City Manager Karen Scalabrini objected on the grounds that making the names public could jeopardize the applicants’ current jobs, Hardy limited his request to applicants who are self-employed, retired or unemployed. Truxaw told the council that each application is confidential, regardless of the applicant’s employment status.

Truxaw said releasing any of the names would compromise the council’s right to consider the applications in closed session. Hardy said his request was prompted by rumors that there’s a “behind-the-scenes effort to promote one or more applicants for the job.” Mayor Del Britton insisted that the hiring process is “straightforward” and “fair and open.” He said the council hired a respected search firm, Bob Murray & Associates, to screen applicants and recommend top candidates based on their qualifications. The rumors about secret back-room deals “have no validity in fact whatsoever,” Britton said.

Councilmember Ann Nevero also denied the rumors. She said the search process is taking longer than she’d like, but the council is following it because “it’s what people want and it’s the right thing to do.” Read more at the Napa Valley Register.

 

Transitions: Who’s in and who’s out, week of September 14-21

Ann Arbor, Michigan (population 113,934): Steve Powers is starting as Ann Arbor’s new city administrator. Powers, a 49-year-old Illinois native, has a lot to learn about Ann Arbor. Things like: Green is important. Transportation doesn’t necessarily mean a vehicle. And translucent isn’t transparent enough — not to the watchdog citizens surely to scrutinize his every move. But that’s the easy stuff. Powers, who will receive a $145,000 base salary, also faces the unenviable task of trying to reconcile differences with the city’s labor unions — particularly police and fire, which have had contentious relations with the city’s current leadership. To put it simply, they saw Ann Arbor’s last city administrator, Roger Fraser, as an adversary. Coming from Marquette County, where he served as county administrator for the past 15 years, Powers has the distinct advantage of being a fresh face. Ann Arbor officials stressed during the recent search process they were looking for an administrator who could communicate well with employees, be a consensus builder and manage in an aggressive collective bargaining environment. Ann Arbor has eight collective bargaining units and close to 200 of the city’s 700-plus employees are represented by the police and fire unions.  AFSCME, the largest union, represents about 230 employees who recently agreed to major concessions that the city has been unable to get out of police and fire. To date, the city has been unable to achieve the kind of concessions it has wanted from its public safety unions, and negotiations with both police and fire are now in binding arbitration. As a result of those standstills, many jobs have been eliminated, and police and fire services have been impacted. In recent years, when city budget cuts came down and deep cuts to public safety were exacted, Fraser was seen as the guy left holding the ax. The city reduced its work force by 30 percent during his nine-year tenure and the unions weren’t happy. Not helping matters were situations like what happened in February 2010. Just three weeks after firefighters agreed to voluntary concessions that included a 4 percent reduction in compensation, which they hoped would save jobs, they were told by Fraser and his administration that six more positions than previously expected were slated to be cut. One representative of the firefighters union put it this way at the time: “That’s like doing a guy a favor and having him come back and hit you with a baseball bat.” In addition to his time in Marquette, Powers brings experience from his days in Oregon where he was an assistant county administrator responsible for human resources, labor relations, risk management and organizational development. Powers, who oversaw 240-plus employees, reports success in negotiating concessions and notes most Marquette County employees have had their pay frozen for two years. Read more at AnnArbor.com.

Centennial, Colorado (population 100,377): Dave Zelenok will fill the role of interim city manager for the city of Centennial until a permanent replacement can be found. The Centennial City Council picked Zelenok, who’s been acting city manager since Jacque Wedding-Scott announced her resignation in August. Zelenok joined the city of Centennial in 2007 as its public works director. He previously held that position for the city of Colorado Springs and was its director of transportation as well. The city of Centennial last week issued a call for an executive search firm to help find a new city manager. Read more at the Denver Business Journal.

Folsom, California (population 72,203): Evert Palmer, Folsom’s assistant city manager for the last five years, has been named city manager effective Oct. 14, replacing the outgoing Kerry Miller, Mayor Andy Morin announced Tuesday. Palmer, 51, will receive an annual salary of $201,420. His contract will be voted on by the City Council at its Sept. 27 meeting. Palmer has been with the city for more than 15 years. In addition to serving as assistant city manager, he has been director of administrative services and assistant finance/information technology director. Miller will retire in mid-October. He credited Palmer with having a “collaborative spirit” and said he is “highly skilled at creating partnerships.” Read more at the Sacramento Bee.

Davis, California (population 65,622): Davis’ new city manager, Steve Pinkerton, spent his first day on the job two weeks ago brushing up on local issues. But no amount of preparation could ready him for the marathon City Council meeting that started at 6:30 p.m. and ended nine hours later, just before daylight broke the following morning. That was his second day of work. Pinkerton’s wife, Audrey, is a partner at an environmental law firm that serves clients throughout the state. Two of their children — Daniel, 2, and Joshua, 11 — live with them in Davis. Pinkerton’s daughter, Carly, 18, is a freshman in college and son, Michael, 16, lives with Pinkerton’s ex-wife in Stockton. During the transition from serving as the city manager of Manteca, a city about 70 miles south of Davis, Pinkerton and his family alternated between commuting and staying at a hotel downtown. They have since bought a home by the North Davis greenbelt and are almost completely moved in. While Davis and Manteca have similar population sizes — 65,000 and 68,410, respectively — every city has different challenges and issues to learn about. Pinkerton, who grew up in the college town of Columbia, Mo., earned bachelor’s degrees in economics and geography from the University of Missouri, Columbia, and a master’s in economics and planning from the University of Southern California. Pinkerton, who will be paid $188,000 per year, replaces Bill Emlen as city manager. Emlen served as city manager for 4 1/2 years before accepting a position with Solano County last September. Before Pinkerton served as city manager in Manteca, he spent 13 years leading Stockton’s revitalization efforts. He also held managerial positions in the Southern California cities of Long Beach and Redondo Beach. Read more at the Davis Enterprise.

Pender County, North Carolina (population 52,217): Pender County Manager Rick Benton has announced he will retire at the end of the year.  Benton came to Pender County in August, 2008. Benton, who has spent more than 30 years working in county and city government,  told The Pender Post his decision to retire was a personal one, and he had not been asked to leave. Benton plans to continue living in Pender County.  Commissioner Jimmy Tate, who was instrumental in bringing Benton to Pender County,  praised Benton’s work. Read more at The Pender Post.

Grundy County, Illinois (population 50,063): Grundy County has hired a new county administrator but not everyone on the county board was on board. With a 15-3 vote last week Coal city resident Shawn Hamilton was hired to fill the vacated position of Dan Duffy, who left in July to fill the village administrator’s position in Minooka. Hamilton will receive a salary of $70,000, a little less than what Duffy received, and about $30,000 in benefits. Hamilton was chosen out of 22 candidates. He is a fourth-generation Grundy County resident who is also well-known in the community because of his participation on a number of boards including the Coal City School Board and the Grundy Economic Development Council. Hamilton’s financial experience includes his most recent positions as a business manager for the Center for Professional Development in Oakland, Calif., a lead manager for the U.S. Bank in Aurora, and a senior financial analyst for the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago. Read more at the Herald-News.

Coffee County, Alabama (population 49,948): When Rod Morgan resigned as Prattville’s financial director in January, many job opportunities existed in the Birmingham and Montgomery areas. But Morgan felt like he was being “led” home to the Enterprise area – an area with comparatively fewer opportunities for someone with his extensive education. The move has paid off, though, as Morgan was recently hired to be the Coffee County administrator. Morgan, an Enterprise native, said he and his family felt right in returning to Coffee County. The 1990 Daleville High graduate brings plenty of experience to the job. He graduated from Troy University-Dothan in 1999 with a degree in finance and in 2001 with a master’s degree in business administration. In 2004, he earned a law degree from the University of Alabama. He joined a law firm in Montgomery and mostly handled public financing cases. Through that, he developed relationships with some of Prattville’s leaders. After a few years at the law firm, Prattville’s financial director resigned, and then-mayor Jim Byard offered the job to Morgan, who accepted. In that position, Morgan mostly used his financial background, but he said his law school training aided in economic development issues, like recruiting businesses. It also helped in obtaining grants as he knew the full spectrum of the process involved. In his new job, he said the financial responsibilities are very similar, but the overall tasks are a bit broader than the ones he had in Prattville. Morgan said he plans to get a feel of the county’s finances before suggesting any ideas to the county commissioners for implementation. The learning curve may not be too steep as Morgan said he kept an eye on the local government while working in Prattville. Morgan lives in Enterprise with his wife, Christina (Yager), and daughters Kaleigh, Kinsley, Caroline and Ashley. Read more at EpriseNow.com.

Steele County, Minnesota (population 36,576): After six months on the job as Steele County Administrator, Riaz Aziz informed county commissioners in a closed door meeting Tuesday night that he will be moving on. Aziz informed department heads of his decision on Wednesday, promising to stay on board until the end of October so he can “tie up loose ends.” Aziz cited “personal and professional” reasons for the resignation, though he emphasized the driving factor was the distance between he and his family at this time. Aziz assumed the position in March, after longtime county coordinator Dave Severson retired. Read more at the Owatonna People’s Press.

Sagadahoc County, Maine (population 35,293): The Sagadahoc County Commissioners hope to hire a new administrator soon after Pam Corrigan resigned abruptly on Aug. 24. Corrigan, who started work as the county administrator for Sagadahoc County in 2007, cited emotional distress and what she viewed as an oppressive performance evaluation process as reasons for her immediate departure. Carol Grose, chairwoman of the Sagadahoc County Commissioners, said Corrigan will be missed and said that commissioners plan to advertise for a new county administrator. Salary and other details related to the position remain to be worked out, Grose said. Commissioners have not set a target date to fill the position, she said, but they hope to do so as soon as possible. In the meantime, other employees in the county’s administrative office have stepped up to share the administrator’s responsibilities. Grose said the commissioners continue to hold their meetings as usual. Read more at the Times Record.

Falmouth, Massachusetts (population 31,531): Julian Suso, the town manager of Framingham, has been offered the same job in Falmouth. By a 4-1 vote, Falmouth selectmen Monday night appointed Suso to the job pending additional background checks and successful contract negotiations. Suso’s competition for the job was fellow finalist James Boudreau, the town administrator of Norwell. In making the decision, the majority of board members expressed the belief that both men could do the job but that Suso could start contributing from day one. Bob Whritenour Jr. resigned as town administrator in Falmouth in November of 2010. Suso was selected from an initial pool of 78 applicants. A screening committee presented four candidates to selectmen and Suso and Boudreau moved on from that group. The position had an advertised annual salary of $139,000. Read more at Wicked Local Cape Cod

Sedalia, Missouri (population 21,284): After a little more than a month on the job, Sedalia City Administrator Gary Edwards said he is looking to bring an inclusive approach to managing the city that welcomes a wide range of input on the community’s direction. Edwards joined the city at the start of August, coming from Wickenburg, Ariz., where he been town administrator since 2007. But he is no stranger to Missouri or Sedalia. Before taking the job in Arizona, Edwards was manager or administrator in the Missouri cities of Moberly, Festus, Ste. Genevieve and Branson West. He has also was the chief of staff and communications director for former U.S. Rep. Ike Skelton, D-Mo., and had worked as a news director for KDRO in Sedalia. Edwards credited the work of past and current council members, mayors and city employees for building the strong reserve fund the city has set aside, which he said will be important to helping ensure that Sedalia can weather a prolonged period of national economic uncertainty. Despite economic concerns across the country, Edwards said the city has reported rising sales tax revenues so far through this fiscal year, which he cited as an indication of Sedalia’s “strong and diverse economic base.” Edwards said he plans monthly staff meetings to review expenditure and revenue performance with department leaders, and he discussed starting a performance measurement system for the city aimed at measuring the efficiency of each department. Describing his management style as inclusive and democratic, Edwards said he wanted to involve council members, city employees and members of the community to participate in determining the priorities and objectives for the city. Through his collaborative work with elected officials, city staff and residents, Edwards said he hopes to help make Sedalia a better place than it was when he arrived. Read more at the Sedalia Democrat.

Pittsburg, Kansas (population 20,233): After 45 years of service with the City of Pittsburg, interim City Manager John Van Gorden has decided to retire effective Oct. 1, 2012. Since starting as a laborer with the City on Feb. 22, 1967, Van Gorden has held various jobs within the City such as Director of Public Works, Director of Parks and Recreation, Assistant City Manager and, his latest title, interim City Manager — a position he has held on four separate occasions. Van Gorden’s latest stint as interim City Manager began four years ago with the departure of former City Manager Allen Gill. Through his four stints overseeing City operations, Van Gorden has always had the tag of “interim” attached to the title. The reason for the attachment is because Van Gorden currently lives outside the city boundaries and cannot hold the City Manager title by city ordinance. He and his wife Joye have five children between them and eight grandchildren. He said his focus after public life will be on his family. Despite the fact that his retirement is a year away, Van Gorden said that walking away from a city he has worked for 45 years will not be easy. As for the city, O’Bryan said that the search for Van Gorden’s replacement will begin soon. Read more at the Morning Sun.

Forest Lake, Minnesota (population 18,375): City of Crookston Administrator Aaron Parrish has been offered a similar job in the outer Twin Cities suburb of Forest Lake, and he told the Times today that he and his wife, Lisa, will spend the early part of this week mulling over the draft of the employment agreement. Parrish, one of a half-dozen finalists for the position in the city of around 15,000 that’s close to his roots, interviewed for the position Sept. 16-17 and, after a comprehensive process that involved Forest Lake city officials, council members and citizens, the Forest Lake Times reported over the weekend that he was the top choice in a straw poll and was subsequently offered the job. At the “step one” level in Forest Lake, Parrish would make an annual salary of $107,000. He’s paid $88,000 a year in Crookston. Parrish, city administrator in Crookston for eight years, has said that it would take a certain situation for him to pursue a career move elsewhere. Geography would play a part, he said, if it was closer to his home town. He said the search process in Forest Lake was very comprehensive and included a tour and lunch with department heads, individual interviews with the mayor and council, a meet and greet with the public and dinner with the mayor and council, all on Friday. Saturday, he interviewed separately with department heads, a community panel, the mayor and full council. The Forest Lake Times reported in its story over the weekend that Parrish wasn’t everyone’s top choice, but that Parrish scored high in just about every step of the interview process. Read more in the Crookston Times.

Chowan County, North Carolina (population 14,739): If you take Paul Parker at his word, the former Chowan County manager was absolutely clueless that he was about to lose his job the night Chowan commissioners called him into a closed session Sept. 6. Of course if that’s true, then it’s further proof that Chowan commissioners made the right call to terminate Parker’s employment after less than a year in the county’s top administrative post. Parker’s actions the week Hurricane Irene was bearing down on the Albemarle — actions that ultimately led to his firing last week — suggest someone seriously lacking a sense of what it means to be a public servant. As the Chowan Herald of Edenton recently reported, Parker decided to leave Chowan on Aug. 25 — two days before Irene made landfall on the North Carolina coast — because he wanted to keep a doctor’s appointment he had made in Wilmington weeks before the storm threatened. Parker said he had exhausted his supply of medication and needed a refill and couldn’t get one without seeing his doctor. While that decision could have been excused — it’s feasible Parker could have traveled to Wilmington, seen his doctor and returned to Chowan on Aug. 26 — what he did next wouldn’t have been acceptable of any public official paid to protect the public in a crisis, but particularly one responsible for planning and managing the emergency response for an entire community. In response to a text from the county clerk, Parker said he had no plans to return to Chowan until Aug. 29 — two days after the storm had passed over the county. Parker would later tell commissioners that he had planned to ride out the storm in Pender County, where he owns a home and where his wife still lives, because he wasn’t sure he could make it back to Chowan before Irene hit. Apparently thinking better of it, Parker decided to return to Chowan the night of Aug. 26, hours before the massive storm was scheduled to pass over the region. By then, however, Chowan commissioners had already stepped into the breach, holding a meeting in their manager’s absence to declare a state of emergency, authorize county expenditures for hurricane preparations and to plan the county’s response to Irene. Parker said commissioners treated him coolly when he got back to Chowan — he described feeling like a “popsicle” — but even then he did nothing to change what by then had become their increasingly sour judgment of his management and leadership skills. The very next morning — as Irene’s winds and rains were already beginning to punish the region — Parker missed a 6 a.m. scheduled meeting of county officials to monitor the storm. Parker’s excuse for being absent was that he couldn’t get out of his driveway — his temporary residence in Chowan was a county-owned home — because of fallen debris. Apparently it didn’t occur to him to pick up his cell phone and call any number of Chowan or Edenton officials who would have given him a ride to the meeting. Presumably, missing that meeting was the last straw. Commissioners determined that Parker’s focus was somewhere other than Chowan and that, at least right now, he wasn’t capable of making the personal sacrifices that come with being a county manager. They voted 6-1 to fire him. It obviously was a much more difficult decision than the vote margin suggests. A divided commission board had given Parker — the county’s interim manager at the time — the permanent job only last November. Parker’s obvious concern about the welfare and safety of his wife and home in Pender County with the approach of a giant storm was also a mitigating factor in what otherwise could only be viewed as irresponsible behavior. In retrospect, the three commissioners who voted against giving Parker the permanent job last November were prescient in their criticism of their four peers’ decision. They said they objected to what they considered a hasty and incomplete recruitment process. The county received 70 applications for the county’s vacant manager’s job, but none of those candidates were ever interviewed. Instead, four members of the commission board decided to hand Parker the job because it was quick — he was already in Chowan working as interim manager. At the time he arrived in Chowan, Parker was serving as assistant county manager in Pender County and had served as its interim manager several times. However, he had never actually held the title of county manager himself. Read the story at the Daily Advance.

La Marque, Texas (population 14,509): The economic development manager for the central Texas town of Live Oak will be the interim city manager for La Marque. City council members approved hiring Carol Buttler to replace Eric Gage, who is leaving the city next week to go back into the real estate business. Buttler, 57, has been the economic and community development manager for Live Oak since 2009. Before that, she spent five years as the assistant city manager and director of business and community development for Hondo. She also spent 10 years working for the city of La Porte before taking the job in Hondo. Buttler will make $3,308 per pay period (twice a month) plus a $500 monthly car allowance, according to city records. She would assume the interim city manager’s job Sept. 22, the day after Gage is set to leave. While she could be considered for the full time job, Hocking said Buttler’s hire is for now on an interim basis. The city will conduct another search for a full-time city manager, the mayor said. That search might not happen until after the May elections in which the mayor and two council positions will be up for a vote. But, should someone come along before May who fits the bill, the mayor said it is possible the council would considering hiring a full-time city manager ahead of the elections. Buttler could not be reached for comment. Read more at the Galveston County Daily News.

Ocean City, Maryland (population 7,173): Dennis Dare has retired as city manager of the town of Ocean City after four City Council members voted in closed session last week for him to retire on Sept. 9, or be fired. The council president said little to elaborate on the move, which contributed to questions from the public about the closed session vote. He did say the vote regarding Dare was not related to any improprieties, not related to Dare’s salary and not related to any business contracts or hiring connected with Dare’s work as city manager. As city manager, Dare was responsible for hiring and firing city employees, assigning contracts, ordering research and carrying out the will of the council. Dare has worked for the city for almost 30 years. When the council convened on Sept. 9, word that Dare’s career was in question drew a packed house of people calling for details about the Sept. 8 closed session. Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan said he did not agree with “the new direction,” the four members of the council were touting as part of the vote for Dare’s retirement. Meehan on Wednesday sent Ocean City Today a letter to the editor, which called Dare’s dismissal “a vindictive move made without proper justification.” When the four members of the council majority moved behind the closed session doors where they voted for Dare to resign or be fired, Meehan remained seated at the dais with council members Doug Cymek and Mary Knight. Council Secretary Lloyd Martin was required to attend the closed session but he and Meehan each said, “It’s a sad day for Ocean City.” City Solicitor Guy Ayers said the council vote was legal. Dare had a contract with the city that guaranteed 120 days severance salary. While the agreement Dare accepted is a city personnel matter that cannot be fully made public, Pillas said he would receive several months of pay, his full 30-year retirement plan and any other benefits. The members of the majority said the vote regarding Dare was in line with moves they made after gaining the necessary fourth seat on the seven-member council in October. Pillas said moves that were part of that campaign to reduce city spending included lowering the starting salaries of new city employees and abolishing town committees as part of a move to seek more private sector input regarding tourism. It was during the contentious discussions about a reduced salary schedule for new hires and a revised benefit plan that the majority clashed with Dare, as well as those in the new minority who opposed the moves. The town charter requires a city manager to serve at the pleasure of the City Council. If that position is vacant, the charter stipulates that the mayor assumes the responsibility during the interim. Meehan took on his new duties as city manager during Tuesday’s work session by reading management reports. Still, Meehan said the department heads are on edge following the forced retirement of the manager who had 17 departments report to him. Knight said the council majority has some candidates in mind to become city manager and has shared the identity of one with the minority. Jim Hall said he had one candidate in mind personally, but would not specify where the candidate came from. Ashley said the majority has considered an inhouse candidate. Pillas said she is considering “about three candidates who are in house.” Read more at Ocean City Today.

Longboat Key, Florida (population 6,888) Longboat Key Town Manager Bruce St. Denis signed a separation agreement Friday, Sept. 16, officially ending his 14 years of service to the town. The agreement to depart followed the news that a majority of the seven-member Town Commission wants him out of office. Town Attorney Dave Persson said St. Denis is the exception in his longevity in the position. Several commissioners have expressed a growing collective voice that the town is facing tremendous challenges in redevelopment, fixing its pension liabilities, and affording labor contracts services and beach maintenance. Several want to see change and want a “change agent,” have decided that while St. Denis’ strengths were the right fit for the past cycle of the island, the future calls for a different skill set, and that St. Denis is just too tied to the policies and some of the problems that the board is trying to repair.  St. Denis has held the top position in the town as manager for 14 years and while he was aware of performance issues and was told on several occasions over the past six months that his job was in jeopardy, it was last Monday that St. Denis learned that five of seven commissioners — enough to terminate him according to town law — had serious performance issues. Mayor Jim Brown had asked Town Attorney David Persson a week prior to independently poll commissioners one-by-one to gauge what he sensed was growing dissatisfaction. Five — Mayor Jim Brown, Vice Mayor Dave Brenner and Commissioners Lynn Larson, Jack Duncan and Phill Younger all expressed issues with St. Denis. Commissioners Hal Lenobel and Pat Zunz did not want to see St. Denis gone, and Lenobel has verbally supported and defended St. Denis throughout the process. Persson told St. Denis the results and encouraged St. Denis to talk to each commissioner, and he did. St. Denis concluded after his discussions that a majority wanted him out of the position and that triggered his decision to voluntarily leave. Persson said the mayor was aware of performance issues and if a majority were inclined, it would allow St. Denis the opportunity to make his own decision instead of putting him through a review that would become part of his employment record. It was an attempt to humanize the process, said Persson. The terms of the town’s contact with the manager state that if St. Denis exits voluntarily, no severance is granted unless one is negotiated. If St. Denis opted not to resign, five commissioners could terminate without cause and the town would have to pay St. Denis one year’s worth of salary and benefits in a severance package that would cost about $260,000 to taxpayers. And instead of putting himself through a review process that appeared destined to end in termination, the voluntary stepping away and granting of the severance was negotiated and agreed upon Friday afternoon. The terms of the termination agreement state that St. Denis will be on call to assist the interim town manager starting Monday, Sept. 19 until Oct. 15. Within seven days following Oct. 15, the town will pay a total of $268,364.81 to St. Denis in severance in the following breakdown:

  • Twelve months base salary totaling $177,507.20.
  • $49,702.01, representing 28 percent of his base salary into his existing 401K
  • $16,507.79 for 12 months of medical premiums
  • $24,647.81 in unused vacation pay

St. Denis also agreed to not criticize the agreement or any aspect arising out of the agreement. Both the town and St. Denis also released each other from any future liability for past official acts and actions. St. Denis told Longboat Key News Friday evening that he has no regrets and that the opportunity to manage Longboat Key was the crowning event of his career. To streamline and expedite this process, the mayor has asked the town attorney to make contact and explore options for an interim town manager. Brown said it is important that the board come to a consensus as to the type of interim town manager they seek. Brown believes the interim manager can expect to be employed by the town from six to eight months while the town conducts a search for a permanent manager. Brown added that the process for selection of the permanent town manager should include development of the type of manager the commission is looking for as well as a proposed salary range. Read more at Longboat Key News.

Sturgis, South Dakota (population 6,627): Sturgis has a new city manager. Officials announced they’ve contracted Daniel Ainsle from northern California for the position. Ainsle worked as a development manager for the city of Merced, California, and will start his new post November 1. Former Sturgis City Manager David Boone resigned earlier this year after being convicted of grand theft. Read the story at KELOLAND.COM.

Salida, Colorado (population 5,274): Before the start of the special Salida City Council meeting Tuesday, Jack Lewis, city administrator, announced he would be leaving his job Oct. 5 to become city administrator in Black Hawk. Lewis has held the job in Salida since Feb. 2, 2009, and earlier worked in private business at Jackson Hole Resort. He told The Mountain Mail Wednesday Black Hawk “seems like a better fit for me at this time in my life.” Black Hawk is the No. 1 gambling city in the state, Lewis said. Lewis said if needed, he will assist in the selection process for a new Salida administrator. At the council meeting Sept. 20, council was scheduled to determine how to handle the hiring process. In the meantime, Lewis said he will remain on the Salida Natural Resource Center Development Corporation board, until council makes a decision to “kick him off or keep him on.” He said he would like to stay on the board, but it might depend upon the time commitment. Lewis said he will “absolutely” miss Salida, but plans to “check in” periodically. Read more at the Mountain Mail.

Basehor, Kansas(population 4,613): The Basehor City Council voted Monday night to oust city administrator Mark Loughry from his position, in a split decision that led one council member to storm out of the building. Four months after unanimously re-appointing Loughry as the city administrator, the council voted, 3-2, to remove his appointment after council president Dennis Mertz’s motion to do so. Along with Mertz, members Fred Box and Iris Dysart voted to remove Loughry, and members David Breuer and Travis Miles voted against the motion. Soon after the vote was taken, Breuer stood up, threw a packet of papers across the council’s table against a wall, and walked out of Basehor City Hall. The council voted to adjourn the meeting quickly afterward. Loughry was absent from Monday’s meeting. Mayor Terry Hill said he was on vacation with his family. Hill said he had asked city attorney Shannon Marcano to look into the possibility of a veto or another measure to undo the vote. The council voted to remove Loughry after addressing its final agenda item for the night, a proposed addendum to Loughry’s employment agreement with the city. The addendum stated that Loughry would “receive the same cost of living increase as other City employees” and that the city would pay 100 percent of health insurance premiums for Loughry and his family. Marcano said the proposed addendum was meant to formalize the pay and benefits that Loughry’s contract originally “anticipated.” After a vote to deny the addendum to Loughry’s contract (3-2, with Breuer and Miles opposing), Mertz made his motion to remove Loughry from the administrator position. After a discussion between Mertz and Marcano regarding whether the material should be discussed in open session, the council voted on the issue with no further explanation.

Update:

Oconto City, Wisconsin (population 4,513): City Administrator Linda Belongia died last Wednesday after a 15-month battle with cancer. She was 56. Belongia served the city for nearly a quarter century. Belongia became clerk-treasurer in May 1988 and was re-elected to that job until 2006. The council at that time decided to make the post an appointed one, along with adding duties of city administrator. Services for Belongia were held Monday.

Dewey-Humboldt, Arizona (population 3,894): Dewey-Humboldt is back to square one in getting a new town manager in place after Garrett Earls informed council members this past week that he was withdrawing his acceptance of the job – again. Earls interviewed for the position in mid-April, along with three other finalists. Earls withdrew his name from the pool of town manager candidates on April 27, and promptly withdrew his withdrawal on the same day. At a May 26 meeting, the council voted 6-1 to offer the position to Earls. In the event negotiations fell through, the council voted to offer the position to Yvonne Kimball. Former councilman David Nystrom explained his ‘nay’ vote at that meeting, saying Earls had no formal training for the town manager position in Williamstown, population 3,215, which has no zoning requirements. On June 10, Earls signed a job offer from Mayor Terry Nolan, agreeing to a start date of Aug. 13 and an annual salary of $67,000. At a Sept. 7 town council meeting, the council members went into executive session for legal advice from Town Attorney Susan Goodwin regarding a communication from Earls. Nolan and the council cannot discuss publicly what happens in executive session. When council resumed the open session, Nolan announced that Earls, former town manager of Williamstown, Vt., had withdrawn his application, citing personal issues as the reason. Earls’ letter also expressed concern over the town’s requirements for fingerprinting, background check, drug and alcohol screening, and a 12-month probationary period. The town’s Administrative Regulation 10-07(6.2) requires a drug and alcohol screening within 24 hours of an offer of employment. Mayor Terry Nolan confirmed that Earls never complied with the drug and alcohol screening requirement. The council has directed Goodwin to contact Yvonne Kimball and determine if she is still available and interested in the town manager’s job and, if so, to begin negotiations. Read more at the Daily Courier.

Carmel-by-the-Sea, California (population 3,722): More than six months after a divided Carmel City Council agreed to oust embattled City Administrator Rich Guillen, the council voted unanimously tonight to hire a new city administrator. Jason Stilwell, currently serving as assistant county executive officer/budget director of Santa Barbara County, will assume the role Sept. 28. There were 128 applicants for the job, and Sacramento-based search firm Peckham and McKenney weeded through resumes and recruited candidates, ultimately bringing in seven for interviews. The council discussed the prospective hire in closed session, and invited several representatives of community groups to meet and review a few candidates. The city paid Peckham and McKenney $16,500 for the search. Stilwell’s three-year contract sets a $176,500 annual salary; he’ll also receive $15,000 toward moving expenses. Read more at the Monterey County Weekly.

Gold Beach, Oregon (population 2,253): With Ellen Barnes leaving in mid-October to take a position as Molalla city manager, the Gold Beach City Council set about Monday to discuss a replacement. They did not have to look far. Sitting across from them was Barnes’ loyal assistant, city planner and city recorder, Jodi Fritts. Little did Fritts know that a few questions posed by the Council about whether to spend $6,000 for the League of Oregon Cities to perform a search for Barnes’ replacement would turn into a full-blown interview at a public meeting. Fritts apparently passed the interview with flying colors because a short time later the City Council voted unanimously to name Fritts as Barnes replacement. An executive session will be held to discuss Fritts’ salary and an employment contract. Barnes endorsed Fritts and also noted there is a network of city administrators throughout the state willing to assist her at any time. Fritts started out being an utilities administrator for the City and then the bookkeeper under Shirley Walker. She eventually left the City to work for Curry County in its planning department. At one time she was the planning director for the County. Fritts returned to the City a few years ago and has been Barnes assistant concentrating on planning, and the IT financial system conversion. A key consideration for the City Council was hiring someone as City Administrator who was committed to staying in Gold Beach. Barnes lasted two years and former police chief P.J. Janik lasted even less than two years. Fritts graduated from Gold Beach High School, and raised her children in Gold Beach. As she said, she’s not going anywhere.  Barnes will honor her contract with the stipulation she provides 45-day notice before leaving her position. Her last official day will be October 21, although she told the City Council Monday that she will take some vacation so that she will actually be leaving the City in mid-October. Barnes was one of four candidates picked from a pool of 42 applicants for the Molalla City Manager position, and on September 6 was hired from the pool of the four finalists. According to Gold Beach Mayor Jim Wernicke, Barnes had notified him and the majority of the Gold Beach City Council that she would be pursuing a position elsewhere. Barnes utilized a ‘head-hunting’ service through the League of Oregon Cities to find a job that would fit the skills of Barnes. The City of Gold Beach has a tumultuous history with keeping the City Administrator position filled, with a high turnover rate and long periods of the position remaining vacant, but Wernicke says this time is not part of that checkered past. Read more at the Curry County Reporter.

Veazie, Maine (population 1,937): The Town Council voted Monday to enter negotiations with a retired Holden town manager to fill the vacant Veazie manager’s seat on a temporary basis. Councilors voted 4-1 to speak with former Holden Town Manager Larry Varisco about the possibility of him working as town manager two or three days per week while the town fields applications to fill the position in the long term. The council voted not to renew former Town Manager Bill Reed’s contract at a meeting on Sept. 12. Reed’s contract stipulated that the town would need to give him a month’s pay for each of his 18 years as manager if they voted to terminate his contract. His severance package totals more than $100,000. Council Chairman Joseph Friedman said he was interested in picking a temporary replacement from a crop of former managers including Varisco; Sue Lessard, who has resigned as Hampden’s town manager; and former Castine and Belfast town manager Terry St. Peter. The temporary position would last until the town finds its next manager, a task that Friedman estimated would take about eight weeks. Friedman said he leaned toward Varisco after the former Holden manager expressed interest in helping Veazie with its transition during a recent phone call.  Next week, the council will discuss whether it wants to conduct the search for a long-term manager itself or hire an outside group, such as Eaton Peabody Consulting or Maine Municipal Association, to advertise the opening and sift through applicants. Friedman said he felt Veazie could handle the search on its own and shouldn’t need to pay money for someone else to do the work, but the council would discuss all its options next week. Read more at the Bangor Daily News.

Dewey Beach, Delaware (population 341): Dewey Beach Town Manager Diana Smith will no longer be a staple at town hall or take her seat at the middle of the council table at commissioners’ monthly meetings. At a Sept. 9 meeting, Dewey Beach Town Council voted unanimously to authorize Mayor Diane Hanson to accept Smith’s resignation, effective immediately. After the vote, Hanson and Commissioner Jim Laird would only say the issue was resolved confidentially. Smith did not attend the meeting or return calls for comment. Her town hall email has been disabled. Commissioner Rick Solloway said in an email potential litigation played a role in the decision to let Smith go. Solloway said he recommended council vote to keep Smith on for a 30-day transition period, but he said the majority of commissioners voted against the idea. Smith sent an Aug. 22 letter to commissioners, requesting termination from her employment because, she said, certain council members micromanaged her official duties. Smith wrote a May 19 email to town attorney Glenn Mandalas, saying she had a right to terminate her employment agreement for good reason, meaning she would collect a severance package of half her annual salary. Smith was hired Feb. 1, 2010, with a starting salary of $70,000. Council voted 3-2 to appoint Mark Allen as interim town manager until council hires a permanent replacement. Allen holds a master’s degree in business administration from Penn State. He said his 25-year career as a naval officer and his own company, a motor sports firm, have given him the leadership skills needed to help the town through the transition. He said his own company, Mark Allen Racing, gave him valuable experience in finance. According to Commissioner Zeke Przygocki, Allen was one of two residents who sent resumes to town hall to apply for the temporary position. Solloway said he believes Allen will work hard to allow a smooth transition. Hanson and Commissioner Marty Seitz opposed Allen’s appointment. Hanson said in an email it served no purpose to explain her vote. Town council unanimously voted Sept. 2 to put commissioners Jim Laird and Marty Seitz in charge of creating a committee to search for a new town manager. Laird and Seitz are the only members of council who are not up for re-election. Betty Laird was appointed chairwoman of the town manager search committee. Laird is chairwoman of the policy committee and wife of Commissioner Jim Laird, who abstained from the vote to appoint her. Laird was chairwoman of the search committee that ended in the hiring of Smith. Read more at the Cape Gazette.

Transitions

Bernalillo County, New Mexico (population 662,564): This afternoon, the County Commission will choose a new county manager from a list of four finalists. The finalists are Ed Adams, Chief Operating Officer, City of Albuquerque; Melinda Carlton, Oscar S. Rodriguez, Executive Director of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission in Riverdale, MD, and interim county manager Tom Zdunek. Whoever is selected will be responsible for overseeing about 2,500 county employees. Read more at KOB News 4.

Jefferson County, Alabama (population 658,466): County Commission will interview Hoover Mayor Tony Petelos for the county manager’s job, Commission President David Carrington said today. Petelos, who is serving his second term of Alabama’s sixth largest city, is a former Alabama lawmaker who gained a reputation for bipartisan work as a legislator and statehouse official. The county commission tried unsuccessfully this spring to recruit candidates for the position but two finalists removed their name from consideration. State law set a June 1 deadline for a county manager to be in place but gave the commission an additional 120 days to look for candidates if none of the finalists gets a super majority of commission. Read more on AL.com.

Tucson, Arizona (population 520,116): City Manager Mike Letcher has resigned. Letcher notified city officials via email, saying his resignation will be effective in August 2012. Rumors that Letcher’s job was at risk have swirled at City Hall since two council members called for his termination over the recent publicity over major management problems at the city’s parking authority ParkWise. He also was criticized over the problematic implementation of the city’s new 911 system, which had been plagued with dropped calls and technical malfunctions as well as morale and staffing woes. Letcher has held the city’s top post since 2009. Letcher was hired after four council members voted to fire former City Manager Mike Hein two weeks earlier, after the council reviewed Hein in closed session. Read more from the Arizona Daily Star.

Rancho Cucamonga, California (population 165,269): The former Bell city manager, who was once employed in Rancho Cucamonga, will receive drastically reduced pension benefits after the California Public Employees Retirement System slashed the payouts of top-paid officials. The move means Rancho Cucamonga’s share of Robert Rizzo’s pension is also significantly reduced.

Rizzo, along with seven other former Bell officials, faces corruption charges for conspiring to inflate each other’s salaries to astronomical figures. When news broke of the salary scandal last year, Rizzo was earning a salary of nearly $800,000 with a total compensation of nearly $1.5 million. At the time, estimates of his CalPERS benefits totaled $650,000 annually. But Rizzo is now set to receive almost $52,000 after the state retirement board reviewed his and other government officials’ pensions.

“We took a close look at the pay that he received in Bell and concluded that most of the pay would not qualify and would not be included in the calculation of his pension benefits,” said Edward Fong, spokesman for CalPERS. CalPERS decided just $7,100 of Rizzo’s monthly salary should be factored in the calculation of his benefits. Read more at theInland Valley Daily Bulletin.

Temecula, California (population 100,097): The City Council and Assistant City Manager Bob Johnson are close to wrapping up the negotiations on his city manager contract, which has been the subject of multiple closed-session meetings in recent weeks. Johnson will be sliding into the city manager’s chair on Jan. 1, 2012, when longtime City Manager Shawn Nelson retires at the end of the year. During the 2010 council election, Nelson’s contract, which paid him more than $285,000 annually, became campaign fodder by candidates seeking to unseat the three incumbents running for re-election. The incumbents, all three were re-elected, responded to that criticism by noting that the next city manager would make less than Nelson, who was uniformly praised for his stewardship of the city. Although city officials haven’t divulged information about the negotiations, a number lower than Nelson’s salary and higher than Johnson’s current pay would put Johnson’s eventual salary somewhere between $200,000 and $280,000. Johnson, 66, is making more than $190,000 in base salary and his compensation is much lower —- nearly $100,000 less per year than Nelson —- because his tenure with the city has been far shorter than Nelson’s 20-plus years.

The council’s negotiations with Johnson are being conducted in a political climate that has seen the salaries of city managers, administrators and elected officials come under fire statewide. In the city of Bell, the city manager was ousted after the disclosure of widespread financial chicanery. In Murrieta, inspired by the abuses in Bell, an ordinance was passed following a successful ballot initiative that seeks to cap the total compensation awarded to top city officials, including benefits and pension contributions, at 2 1/2 times the median household income. Read more at the North County Times.

Marshall County, Alabama (population 93,019): County Administrator Nancy Wilson was placed Thursday on administrative leave with pay, a step before she will be fired pending a request for a hearing on the matter, according to courthouse sources. Wilson, who started in August 2007, replaced the late Marshall County Commission Chairman Billy Cannon, who had been doubling as administrator since Pam Gilmore had retired the previous year. Gilmore held the job more than 30 years. A native of Albertville, Wilson was hired away from a similar position in Dallas County that she’d held since 2000. Prior to that, she worked for 17 years at the Department of Economic and Community Affairs. Read more at the Arab Tribune.

Yakima, Washington (population 91,196): The tenure of the city of Yakima’s first new city manager in 32 years begins today. Don Cooper, who will take his oath of office at tonight’s city council meeting, said he wants to spend first few weeks getting acquainted with city staffers and the community’s major players. But it won’t be too long before he dives into major projects, including hiring a new police chief, he said after this morning’s mayor’s briefing. Cooper, 61, said he hopes to hire a new chief by early December, but is now looking at a year end deadline as the position has not yet been advertised, something he wants to resolve soon. Cooper, who will earn $155,000 as city manager, arrived to Yakima late last week. He spent this past weekend driving around the different neighborhoods and was able to visit the Yakima Farmers Market Sunday. Read more at the Yakima Herald.

Sheboygan, Wisconsin (population 50,792): The Common Council has sought Mayor Bob Ryan’s removal since a three-day drinking binge in late July, requesting his resignation, then pursuing a forced removal when Ryan refused. Alderman Don Hammond and Cory Roeseler are introducing resolutions to halt the removal process and promote Finance Director James Amodeo to city manager. Amodeo — who is working his first government job and was hired in August 2010 — would handle the day-to-day operations of the city and report to Ryan and the Common Council. Read more from the Sheboygan Press.

Eastpointe, Michigan (population 34,077): Controversial former Sterling Heights city manager Steve Duchane is in line to become the next top administrator at Eastpointe City Hall. Duchane, a former police officer, was fired in Sterling Heights from a $123,000-a-year job after he admitted he lied about having earned bachelor’s degrees at the University of Michigan-Flint and Franklin University in Columbus, Ohio, and that he played college football at Eastern Michigan University. In the days after his admission, other allegations of falsifications surfaced including statements made in depositions during a federal personal injury lawsuit. Read more from the Macomb Daily.