Transitions: Mohave County, AZ; Clermont County, OH; Alexandria, VA and more

Mohave County, Arizona (population 200,186): County officials have confirmed that County Manager Ron Walker plans to leave his position at the end of next year. Walker was hired as the county manager in May 2001 at a salary of $87,000 and was placed in charge of a $151 million budget and 1,200 county employees. The Board of Supervisors approved a new contract with Walker in 2009 and extended it by 18 months in January. He currently makes more than $170,000 and is in charge of $77 million budget and 777 employees with around 117 positions unfilled. He will go off the payroll on Dec. 31, 2012. In the last two years Walker has been involved in a number of conflicts between the public and the county. In August 2010, Golden Valley resident Luca Zanna filed a lawsuit against the county, the Board of Supervisors and Walker for violating his rights because Supervisor Buster Johnson asked Zanna to stop passing out flyers on county property during a town hall held by Sen. John McCain in November 2009. Zanna also accused Walker of libel after a letter to the editor from Walker and a letter from Sockwell were published in local newspapers. Zanna later dropped that claim from the lawsuit. Walker and the county were involved in another conflict in February 2010 when he refused to let Kingman resident Mervin Fried enter the County Administration Building with a pitchfork. Fried was arrested for trespassing and after a lengthy court process was acquitted of the charges. Fried was arrested again earlier this year after he wore a shirt with an obscenity on it to a public meeting on the county tax rate. He is currently fighting the charges. In March 2010, Walker increased the security presence at the County Administration Building by installing a metal detector, hiring more security officers and requiring all residents to check their guns when they entered the building. At the same time the Board approved changes to the county’s policies such as a dress code for Board meetings, prohibiting the public from passing out political information on the county grounds and prohibiting weapons in county buildings. According to a profile written in a 2002 edition of the Miner, Walker served 26 years in the Navy and retired as a captain in 1994. He has a bachelor’s degree in business from Eastern Texas State University and was teaching seventh and eighth graders in San Benito, Texas when he joined the Navy in the late 1960s. He went through the officers program and started work as an aerospace engineering duty officer for anti-submarine aircraft on aircraft carriers. He later moved to working on fighter planes. He earned two masters degrees in systems management from the University of Southern California and in financial management from National University while in the Navy. He served on the USS Saratoga in the aerospace repair facility during combat action in Libya and during the Achille Lauro cruise ship hijacking in 1985. He also was a senior leader in various other Navy aerospace maintenance and engineering organizations, including Attack Carrier Air Wing Fifteen, Naval Air Station Miramar, in San Diego, a deputy commander for Naval Aviation Depots in Washington D.C., an adjunct professor in management science at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterrey, Calif., and a director of the Department of the Navy Total Quality Management Training Center and Naval Leadership Training Unit in San Diego. When he retired from the Navy in 1994 he moved to Lake Havasu City and started work as a management consultant with the Federal Quality Institute of Washington, DC. He completed performance audits and worked with executives. He ran in the 2000 primary against Treasurer Dora Goodmiller and lost. He then applied for the county manager’s position. He was one of four finalists and was offered the job in 2001. Read more at the Daily Miner.

Clermont County, Ohio (population 197,363): Clermont County Administrator David Spinney has announced plans to retire Jan. 1. Spinney has served as the county administrator for the past 10 years. Prior to serving as county administrator, Spinney was an assistant county administrator and the director of planning and development. He was the Milford city manager between 1988 and 1994. Spinney was the town manager of Indian Head, Maryland between 1985 and1988.  Spinney has been a public servant for more than 36 years. Spinney said his biggest accomplishments involve local transportation and infrastructure improvements. Read more at Consider This Clermont.

Alexandria, Virginia (population 152,583): When Rashad Young arrives in Alexandria to begin his job as the new city manager, he plans to listen for nuance as well as broad points of view. The council plans to vote on and execute his contract Monday. Young, the city manager in Greensboro, N.C. (population 269,666), has had experience with thorny community issues both in North Carolina and in Dayton, Ohio, where he previously worked. The Alexandria that Young walks into is a community with a $566 million budget and several major challenges around every corner. The future of the Alexandria waterfront, the relocation of 6,400 federal workers into the city’s Mark Center and the fate of the GenOn power plant property after its shutdown next year all offer chances for city government to succeed — or fail. Young said he had been briefed on those issues but needs to learn more. Working in the Washington area has long been a goal for him, and these issues “will shape this community for years to come,” he said. Young and his wife of nine years, Tameka, drove from Greensboro to Alexandria for a weekend visit and toured the city by car, foot and boat. They have not decided where to live or what schools their two boys, both preschoolers, will attend. Young said one of his accomplishments in Greensboro was reorganizing city government, which he completed, he said, by “asking, ‘Why is it structured this way? Does that help or hinder our [goals]?’ If you lead with what you’re trying to accomplish, rather than ‘Does this fit the personalities we have?,’ I think you have a better conversation, a better basis for what you’re trying to achieve.” Read more at The Washington Post.

Young came to Greensboro in October 2009 after being city manager of Dayton, Ohio, for three years. He replaced Mitch Johnson, who was fired in March 2009. Young was hired with a base salary of $179,500. He turned down a 3 percent pay raise passed by City Council in 2010, saying he shouldn’t be given a raise if city workers weren’t. Council also passed a 4 percent pay raise for Young in July, but Young turned that down as well. It would have raised his salary to $186,680, plus given him a $400 a month car allowance. Read more at Fox 8.

The Alexandria job, which pays between $190,000 and $225,000, has been vacant since May, when James Hartmann left to work for Seminole County, Fla. Bruce Johnson, Alexandria’s chief financial officer has been acting city manager since May. He was not a candidate for the manager’s job. Read more at The Washington Post.

Plantation, Florida (population 84,866): Plantation city officials next week will name its chief administrative officer, who serves as the right hand man to the mayor. Gary Shimun, Davie’s former Town Administrator, was chosen from a field of 73 applicants. Davie officials fired him in January amid complaints he kept council members in the dark and ignored calls from residents. Unlike most cities in Broward County, Plantation’s elected mayor acts like a city manager, running the city’s day-to-day business, supervising department heads and preparing the budget. Mayor Diane Veltri Bendekovic’s salary is $117,221. But Plantation’s mayor has had an assistant who serves in a similar role as a city manager. If the Council approves the hiring on Wednesday, Shimun would replace Dan Keefe, who is retiring Dec. 30. Shimun is expected to earn the same salary as his boss. Councilman Bob Levy said Shimun’s resume was the only one he was sent. He said the council was asked to interview Shimun privately by next week. “I put in a call to him yesterday but he hasn’t returned my call,” Levy said. “He’s a credentialed city manager which is important. On paper he looks great. His qualifications of course are impeccable but I do want to know what happened in Davie, that’s what I want to ask him about.” Read more at the Sun Sentinel.

Eau Claire, Wisconsin (population 65,883): City Manager Mike Huggins announced that he is resigning from his position, effective mid-December. Huggins has served as Eau Claire City Manager since 2006. During a phone interview, with the Chippewa Valley Post, Huggins said he is in good health, does not have another job lined up, nor does he plan on moving from the City of Eau Claire. When asked, Huggins said he was not planning on running for any political seat nor does he, at this time, plan on pursing another career for the City of Eau Claire. The City Manager is responsible for the hiring and managing of the city staff; carrying out the directives of the City Council; and assisting the City Council in developing policy and strategic directions to provide for the common good of the people of Eau Claire. In his blog post, Huggins said his priorities as City Manager include providing the appropriate executive leadership to assure timely, equitable, and fiscally responsive delivery of City services; encouraging informed and responsible citizen engagement in local governance and community decision-making; and strengthening the community and intergovernmental partnerships essential for maintaining a high quality of life for all residents. With Huggins resignation, the city council must now appoint an interim city manager and start the process of recruiting a permanent city manager to replace him. The process could take anywhere from  3 to 6 months from Huggins last day on the job. Read more in the Chippewa Valley Post.

East Lansing, Michigan (population 48,579): More than 100 people attended a farewell ceremony for Ted Staton on Sunday at the Hannah Community Center in East Lansing. Staton served East Lansing as City Manager for 16 years. Speakers including East Lansing Police Chief Juli Liebler, Mayor Victor Loomis and representatives from the city council, Michigan State University and East Lansing Public Schools paid tribute to Staton’s service.  Staton was presented with a series of gifts from local leaders throughout the event – a varsity letter jacket, books and a video looking back at his tenure – but the most impressive was a check presentation for the newly established Staton Family Endowment Fund. The fund honoring the Staton family’s commitment to education has raised $25,450 so far. The money will be used by the East Lansing Educational Foundation to add tools like books, technology and musical instruments to East Lansing schools. Staton will become the city manager of Upper Arlington in Ohio, and the speakers took pleasure in ribbing Staton about moving to Ohio State University territory. Even Staton’s goodbye cake depicted a Buckeye succumbing to a Spartan. Read more in the Lansing State Journal.

Tigard, Oregon (population 48,486): New city manager Marty Wine will take hold of Tigard with a $140,000 annual salary on Dec. 1. While much of her eight-page contract is standard and mirroring that of former city manager Craig Prosser, Wine will also get her requests granted for a $4,800 subsidy to pay for rent for six months and money up to $10,000 for closing costs in the sale of her current home in Newcastle, Wash. The council members acknowledged her requests were “not common but not unheard of,” and considered the difficult housing market for Wine’s move. Wine will also get one week of paid vacation when she begins, although city policy now indicates employees must wait six months to get any paid time off. Councilor Marland Henderson called the terms a “friendly offer” and the council voted unanimously to approve the five-year contract, which can be terminated at any time. This means a pay bump for Wine, who said her current salary as assistant chief administrative officer of Renton, Wash., is $132,100. The salary is also slightly below that of Prosser’s, which was $140,907 when he left office, interim city manager Liz Newton said. Read more at The Oregonian.
Cowley County, Kansas (population 36,311): Jeremy Willmoth, the finance director for Raytown, Mo., will become the new Cowley County adminstrator. The new administrator is expected to start the job Dec. 1. According to interim administrator Phil Jarvis, Willmoth was notified Saturday by consultant Bob Saunders, who facilitated the search, that he had been selected. Willmoth has agreed to take the position and already notified his current employer, Jarvis said. He has been Raytown’s finance director since January 2008. Raytown is located southeast of Kansas City, Mo., and has a population of around 29,500. He previously was employed as the deputy director of finance for Jackson County, Mo., also in the Kansas City area, from May 2006 to January 2008, and was budget administrator for the same county from July 2000 to May 2006. Willmoth earned a bachelor’s degree in public administration from Park University in Parkville, Mo., in 1999 and a master’s degree in public affairs from the same school in 2006. Read more at the Arkansas City Traveler.

Willmoth will be offered a starting annual base salary of $90,000; a monthly car allowance of $300 and monthly cell phone allowance of $50; family health and dental insurance offered at the same rate charged to other county employees; and eligibility for 10 working days of vacation and 12 sick leave days upon full employment with the county. Additionally, Willmoth will be allowed to obtain three written bids for moving expenses, with the county to pay the lowest bid for relocation to Cowley County. The projected date of full employment is on or before Dec. 1. Read more at The Winfield Daily Courier.

Duluth, Georgia (population 31,942): A selection committee appointed by the Duluth City Council recommended Tim Shearer, former city administrator for Angels Camp, CA, as the sole finalist for the position of Duluth city manager. The council will soon act on the committee’s recommendation, according to an announcement by the city. Shearer was selected following a nationwide search that included rounds of interviews and in-depth reference and background checks. The city received a total of 31 resumes from individuals throughout the United States. If approved, Shearer would succeed Phil McLemore, who is retiring after 15 years of dedicated service as city administrator. The council recently changed the name of the position from city administrator to city manager to reflect the actual duties of the position. McLemore officially retires on Dec. 31. “I have been blessed with the opportunity of serving Duluth for the past 15 years working with great people to take Duluth to a higher level of quality and livability,” he said. McLemore plans to stay on for a few months to assist with the new city manager’s transition into the job. Shearer has more than 20 years of experience in local government, including the past 15 years as the administrator for Angels Camp, a city with a population of 3,441 in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Angels Camp is the only incorporated city in Calaveras County, the home of Mark Twain’s famous “Jumping Frog Jubilee.” The remainder of the county is unincorporated. Prior to his service in Angels Camp, Shearer spent six years leading Sycamore Township in Ohio.  He also has over 28 years of military service and is a colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve. During his tenure in Angels Camp, Shearer was responsible for bringing stability and financial security to the city by restructuring its finances and aggressively pursuing grants and other outside funding sources, the announcement stated. He also formed a regional transportation agency and worked with the business community to develop a Branding Marketing Action Plan. Shearer is also reportedly knowledgeable and proactive in economic development. Shearer holds a master’s degree in International Relations and Strategic Studies in addition to a bachelor’s degree in Public Administration and Political Science. He and his wife Paula are parents of three boys. Read more at the Duluth Patch.

Juneau, Alaska (population 31,275): City Manager Rod Swope has made it official – he’s retiring for good on March 31, 2012. Swope already retired from the city once, more than two years ago. At the time, the CBJ Assembly unsuccessfully went through the process of trying to find a replacement. Swope took six months off, and agreed to come back and work on a two year contract. Now he says he’ll stay on a little longer than that. That means he’ll be stepping down in the middle of the city’s biennial budget process. Swope generally puts the budget together early in the calendar year. The assembly then holds hearings on it during March and April, and approves it – with changes – in May or June. The assembly was scheduled to hold its annual retreat on Tuesday, where the topic of recruiting a new city manager was on the agenda. Read at KTOO News.

North Andover, Massachusetts (population 29,562): Andrew Maylor finally made it past being a finalist. For the first time since 2004, when the Swampscott town administrator began seeking a town manager’s post, Maylor has been offered a position, this time in North Andover. The Board of Selectmen, which currently has four members due to the recent resignation of Daniel Lanen, unanimously voted Monday to offer Maylor the position of town manager, subject to successful negotiations and an additional background check. After the vote, selectmen took a recess to call Maylor, who accepted the offer. Maylor, 49, has served as Swampscott town administrator since 2002, and is the chairman of the board of directors for the Essex Regional Retirement System. He has applied and been named a finalist for several town manager positions, including in Billerica, Wakefield, and Winthrop. As of Monday, he was also among the four town manager finalists in Winchester, along with outgoing Malden Mayor Richard C. Howard, Saugus town manager Andrew R. Bisignani, and Belmont town administrator Thomas G. Younger. Younger was also a finalist for the North Andover post. Selectwoman Rosemary Connelly Smedile said having “such great candidates” made a final decision difficult, but the board chose Maylor. Selectman Donald B. Stewart said Maylor indicated to the board in interviews that he could start the job within 60 days of giving notice in Swampscott. Connelly Smedile and the board’s chairwoman, Tracy M. Watson, were appointed to negotiate with Maylor. Maylor would take over the seat vacated in July by Mark Rees, who served as town manager for 10 years before taking the city manager’s job in Portland, Maine. Read more at the Boston Globe.

Stephens County, Georgia (population 26,175): John Rutan has resigned as Stephens County administrator. Rutan made his resignation public Friday, and it took effect Friday. He said he has communicated with the County Board of Commissioners. Rutan said he does not have another job lined up at this time. He did say he would like to move toward an engineering position. He was hired in April 2008 as Stephens County administrator. He said it has been a great learning experience, as well as an eye-opening one. Rutan cited working with employees and getting a lot done with limited funding as two of the things he is proud of regarding his time as administrator. He described the people working in Stephens County government as wonderful. Rutan was a solid waste director, geographic information systems coordinator and surveyor for Henry County, Ga., between 1984 and 1997. In 1998, he was a plan reviewer for Fulton County. From 1998 until he was hired as Stephens County administrator, he managed projects, such as some involving roads and rezoning activities, for a number of firms. No announcement had been made as of Friday evening about selection of an interim administrator. Read more at the Independent Mail.

Carlsbad, New Mexico (population 26,138): A former city administrator has been appointed to take over as interim administrator for the city of Carlsbad while the City Council looks for a permanent hire – and he’s doing it for free. Mayor Dale Janway announced Friday that he had selected Jon Tully as the interim city administrator pending City Council approval at their regular meeting Oct. 25. Tully has been retired for six years, but was a city employee for 33 years – the last 13 years as city administrator. The position became open after current administrator Harry Burgess accepted the position of county administrator in Los Alamos. He said his strategy is to move projects that are currently in progress toward finality, like the various construction projects, adding that city government is “always in a continuum.” According to a press release, Tully has asked to serve without pay until a new city administrator is found. On Friday, Janway also announced the selection committee for a new city administrator. The committee is made up of Mayor Pro tem Wesley Carter as chairman; councilors Janell Whitlock, Paul Aguilar and Dick Doss; and community members Mario Salinas, Steve McCutcheon and the Rev. Robert Smith. The committee will be charged with bringing the four top applicants to the mayor and council. Carter said Friday that the committee is advertising regionally for a new city administrator, placing ads in the local newspaper as well as in Albuquerque and Las Cruces newspapers. Carter added that, with contract negotiations with the union pending at the start of next year, it would be unfair to throw someone new in right away. Janway said in the release that the city is indeed fortunate to have a person of Tully’s caliber to serve in the interim. Read more at the Carlsbad Current-Argus.

Somerset County, Maryland (population 26,470): Doug Taylor, the director of the Somerset County Roads Department for the past seven years, was named the new county administrator in a 3-2 vote. Taylor has been in charge of the County Roads Department since 2004. During his time there, Taylor had overseen renovations of Wenona Harbor and Websters Cove Marina, the rebuilding of the county dock in Crisfield, the replacement of several bridges in the county and numerous repaving projects. Prior to working for the county, he was employed at Eastern Correctional Institution. Although his appointment was effective Tuesday, Taylor won’t start his new job until Oct. 24. The county has been without a permanent administrator since the retirement of Sam Boston on Sept. 1, 2010, about six weeks before his death from cancer. Cindy Ward, a former administrative aide to the Commissioners for the past 15 years, has served on an interim basis since then. The county administrator serves at the pleasure of the County Commissioners and is appointed following each election. Taylor will serve out the remainder of the current term until the 2014 election. The previous board of County Commissioners decided not to look for a permanent replacement for Boston until after last November’s election, saying it would be unfair to hire someone, and then have them possibly lose the job a few months later under a new board. Read more at DelMarVaNOW.

Burlington, Massachusetts (population 24,498): There were visible emotions at the Burlington Board of Selectmen’s meeting last night as long-term Town Administrator Robert Mercier announced his retirement. Mercier said he would officially retire in May of next year, after the passing of the FY2013 annual budget. Mercier became Burlington’s first Town Administrator in 1980 and held the position until 1986. From 1986 to 1998, Mercier held other positions outside of town; doings stints as the Regional Chamber of Commerce CEO with offices in Woburn and as the town administrator for Billerica in Boxford, before returning to Burlington. Mercier said he would guide the town through the planning and completion of next year’s budget process. He also said he would help in any manner the Selectmen wished to help with the transition. Mercier ended by saying how difficult it is for him to leave a position he loves and the people he works with that have become his friends. After Mercier read his retirement announcement, all the members of the Board and Assistant Town Administrator Thomas Hickey all took turns expressing their thoughts. All agreed they were saddened to hear the news, but happy for Mercier and wished him well in his retirement. Chair of the Board Walter Zenkin said the news, which he learned earlier in the day, “shocked and saddened” him. Selectman Bob Hogan, who is also Burlington’s Director of Veteran Affairs, said Mercier will be missed by the town employees. Hickey agreed, explaining that Mercier first hired him in 1991 and four and half years ago brought him on as the assistant Town Administrator. Read more at the Burlington Patch.

Auburn, Maine (population 22,433): Police Chief Phil Crowell said Tuesday he will spend the next three weeks researching ways the City Council can find a permanent replacement for ousted City Manager Glenn Aho. City Councilors voted 6-0 Tuesday night to appoint Crowell to perform the city manager’s job until the next council meeting on Nov. 7. That night, councilors are expected to come up with a replacement plan. Crowell will remain police chief in title during that time. He said he plans to look for a search firm to help find Aho’s replacement. Councilors voted Monday to terminate Aho’s employment agreement, placing him on 90 days’ paid leave. According to Aho’s employment agreement, he is due a severance package equal to six months’ salary and benefits if he is terminated without cause. Under Aho’s $109,000 salary, that amounts to $54,500, plus unused vacation and benefits. Mayor Dick Gleason said Monday that councilors did not discuss Aho’s severance package or who would succeed him. The City Charter says the assistant manager can fill the role in the manager’s absence, but the city has not had an assistant manager since July 1. Up to July 1, Crowell acted as assistant manager while Aho and his department heads worked out a new, team-based management approach. Crowell said he has faith in the team approach and it would stay in place. In addition to Aho and the assistant manager job, the finance director position is still vacant. The city has hired Jill Eastman to fill that slot, but she is not scheduled to begin until Nov. 7. Crowell said he would move to fill the vacant fire chief’s position. Geoff Lowe, assistant fire chief, has been acting as interim chief of that department. For his part, Crowell said he was happy with his job as police chief and was not looking to be city manager permanently. Read more at the Sun Journal.

East Moline, Illinois (population 20,726): East Moline has a new city administrator, according to a news release issued this morning. Cole O’Donnell is scheduled to start the job on Jan. 3, 2012. O’Donnell was selected from a field of 11 finalists recommended by the executive recruitment firm Voorhees Associates LLC. O’Donnell is a graduate of Ballard High School in Huxley, Iowa. He attended Iowa State University where he earned both his bachelor’s degree in political science in 1991 and his master’s degree in public administration in 2003. O’Donnell has 17 years of experience in city administration and finance. O’Donnell currently lives in Algona, Iowa, where he is city administrator. He will be relocating to East Moline with his wife, Peggy, and four children, Evan, Samantha, Colin and Liam. Read more at the Quad-City Times.

Ashland, Oregon (population 20,078): A former city manager for Oregon City will take the reins of Ashland’s city government as officials here search for a new city administrator. The City Council confirmed Larry Patterson’s appointment as interim city administrator earlier this week. Patterson will begin work in Ashland on Monday, overlapping for a few days with City Administrator Martha Bennett, who will end her five-year tenure in Ashland on Wednesday, Ashland Human Resources Director Tina Gray said. Patterson will likely serve as interim city administrator for four to six months. He retired from his Oregon City job in 2010 and told Ashland officials he wasn’t interested in becoming the permanent city administrator. He has 35 years of experience in municipal government. Bennett is leaving to take the chief operating officer position for Portland Metro, a regional governing body. Mayor John Stromberg said it’s a sign of Bennett’s strong leadership skills that she is moving from a town with about 20,000 people to a job where she will serve an area with more than 1 million residents. Stromberg said Bennett always demonstrated integrity, treated city staff respectfully while requiring accountability and communicated frankly with elected officials. He said Bennett, who is a parent, was a true member of the community, shopping at local stores and riding her bike around town. Bennett echoed those sentiments. She said Ashland is filled with people who care deeply about the community and various issues. Bennett said the town has big city-caliber city government staff members who choose to live and work here. The Waters Consulting Group, Inc., which is based in Texas, is conducting a nationwide search for a new city administrator for a fee of $21,500. The salary range for the job is $116,864 to $137,978 annually. Bennett is at the top of that salary range. Her health care and retirement benefits are worth nearly $66,000 per year, Gray said. The total value of her salary and benefits is about $203,700. While he is interim city administrator, Patterson will earn a salary, cash payments in lieu of benefits and a rental housing allowance each month that would equate to $174,324 if he worked for a full year, according to city of Ashland Human Resources Department figures. He will receive $350 per month for use of his personal vehicle at work, while Bennett had a $400 personal vehicle allowance, according to Patterson’s employment agreement with the city and Gray. Read more at the Mail Tribune.

Hyattsville, Maryland (population 15,570): Following the early resignation of former city administrator Gregory Rose, the Hyattsville City Council unanimously appointed Police Chief Doug Holland as the acting administrator, despite some concern that Holland’s new tasks may hinder the daily operations of the police department. Mayor Marc Tartaro recommended the appointment to the council during Monday night’s council work session. Rose officially resigned on Friday, about three months before the end of his contract, saying that his wife is ill and needed to move back to his family in Texas. Councilman Tim Hunt (Ward 3) suggested appointing Holland, but to only keep him as acting city administrator for four weeks, when he would then step down in hopes of the council hiring a full-time city administrator. That motion was changed to say that rather than removing Holland from the position after the four week period, the council would review his position and would make a decision then to either remove him, keep him for longer or hire a full-time replacement at the Nov. 7 meeting. They discussed the immediate need of having an acting city administrator help the understaffed administration and keep a checks and balances system between the city staff and council. Hunt also requested that they look at potential programs offered by the Maryland Municipal League, as there could be someone within the program they could hire as acting city administrator, he said. Tartaro said bringing in someone new at this time would be a disservice to the city. Some council members questioned whether the police department would function soundly without the same full-time effort from the police chief. Holland said he will be asking certain officers in the department to take on some additional duties while he fills the temporary vacancy. The council agreed to provide detailed guidance on Oct. 24, during a special council meeting. Read more at The Gazette.

Opa-locka, Florida (population 14,155): Opa-locka Interim City Manager Bryan Finnie was appointed by the commission to fill the city manager’s position until June 2012. Finnie was previously appointed as the interim city manager for 90 days after former City Manager Clarance Patterson left his post on June 17. The city was planning to hire a new city manager by September, but instead they decided to offer the position to Finnie. His salary will be $105,000 per year. Among the projects Finnie is working on are: the Sherebondy and the Segal parks rehabilitations. The Sherebondy Park, near City Hall, has been under construction for years. The city project features a building that will be used as a gym. However, the renovation has been long and controversial. Before constructing the gym, the pump station located in the park needed to be upgraded in order for the building to have appropriate sewage. The city projected its completion at the beginning of this year, but due to delays in getting a constructing company, the pump station is in its initial stages of development. In the Segal Park, the city is implementing the second phase of the renovation that includes the restoration of the Helen L. Miller center, which will become a warehouse for the city. Finnie said that in his short tenure, he has encouraged Opa-locka to believe that goals are accomplishable. Finnie also was Opa-locka’s interim manager in 2010. He has worked as an economic development consultant and was also the director of Miami-Dade Empowerment Trust. Read more at The Miami Herald.

Montville, New Jersey (population 11,471): Township Administrator Frank Bastone has told department heads and Township Committee members he will be retiring at the start of December after five years serving Montville, officials said. Bastone will be retiring Dec. 1, marking 33 years since he began working as a public employee in Morris County. Bastone came to Montville in 2006. Prior to working in Montville, he was assistant administrator in Mount Olive. Bastone said he will work with the Township Committee and staff on a very smooth transition. Committee members talked about the matter in closed session Tuesday because it involved discussion of personnel whose duties might be affected when the town hires an interim administrator. Read more at the Montville Patch.

Mendota Heights, Minnesota (population 11,071): The Mendota Heights City Council announced their pick for city administrator Friday. Their selection, Justin Miller, is the city administrator for Falcon Heights. He was one of three finalists interviewed for the position. The city received 45 applications for the job of city administrator following the departure of David McKnight over the summer. McKnight left to take the city administrator position in his hometown of Farmington. Council member Jack Vitelli said that the three finalists were all solid candidates, but he was particularly impressed by Miller’s forthright and intelligent responses to interview questions as well as his personality. Vitelli also said that Miller had been the second choice in 2009 when McKnight was hired. Mayor Sandra Krebsbach said the decision was unanimous among the five council members. She said Miller’s strong leadership skills, current data management experience and technology skills will be an asset to the city. In addition, she said he will be instrumental in developing the city’s industrial park. Miller has served in Falcon Heights since 2006. Prior to that he has been employed with the cities of Chanhassen and Des Moines, IA, according to a statement released by the city. He received a bachelor’s degree in political science and business administration from Austin College of Sherman, TX and a masters of public administration degree from the University of Kansas. Miller is a credentialed manager with the International City/County Management Association. Tammy Schutta, Mendota Heights human resources coordinator, said that the city will perform a variety of background checks and negotiate a salary before offering a final contract, expected to be before the council Nov. 1. The pay range offered is $88,000-$107,000.* Diehm said Miller will need to provide 45 days notice to Falcon Heights upon finalization of the contract. That puts his start date sometime in mid-December. Read more at the Mendota Heights Patch.

Flagler Beach, Florida (population 8,698): After spending more than nine months in a holding pattern, city commissioners agreed Thursday night that Bruce Campbell should be Flagler Beach’s permanent city manager. Officials and residents heaped praise on Campbell, who has been the acting city manager since January. Residents, who filled nearly every seat in the room during the regular meeting, applauded the commission’s 5-0 decision. Mayor Alice Baker said Campbell has been “hands-on” over the last nine months. Having a local person who “votes here, lives here, pays taxes here,” makes a difference, she said. Flagler Beach has not had a permanent city manager in more than five years. Campbell succeeded former acting City Manager Caryn Miller. She was in the role for about three months after Interim City Manager Bernie Murphy retired. He spent about five years in that position. Campbell, who was employed as a building maintenance worker, was a finalist for the city manager position when the city interviewed applicants for the position in September. Previously, Campbell worked in various management positions at The Timken Co. and was president of Camaco/Lorain County Automotive. He lives in the city. Last April, Commissioner Steve Settle asked the other commissioners to consider hiring Campbell as the permanent city manager. But Chairman John Feind, Vice Chair Jane Mealy and Commissioner Marshall Shupe said they wanted to wait. Feind said he wanted to wait to see how Campbell handled the city’s 2012 budget. Several residents and former commissioners also spoke on Campbell’s behalf. Doug Baxter, president of the Flagler County Chamber of Commerce and Affiliates, said he’s had a good working relationship with Campbell. Campbell said during an interview afterward that he’ll “keep doing what I’ve been doing.” Read more at The Daytona Beach News-Journal.

The key was Commission Chairman John Feind’s shift. He had opposed Campbell’s appointment going back to last spring, when he was winnowed out of 140 applicants. Feind was unsure about Campbell’s capabilities, Campbell’s executive experience having been exclusively in the private sector. Commissioner Jane Mealy was opposed on the same grounds. Feind was also turned off by the political rallying around Campbell’s candidacy, including petitions, noisy public meetings and a constant drumbeat of vocal protest whenever commissioners failed to give Campbell the final nod. In the end, Feind said he’d make his decision based on Campbell’s performance during budget season. That’s over. There were a few, all supportive of Campbell, including from Mayor Alice Baker, Richard Price, a resident in Flagler Beach who speaks at almost every commission meeting, Terry Potter, who’s been the public face of Save Flagler Beach, and Doug Baxter, president of the Flagler County Chamber of Commerce. Those comments, knowing the vote virtually sealed, focused on Mealy as they pressed for a unanimous vote. Even Ron Vath, the former city commissioner, made an appearance before the panel he’d served on almost a decade. He, too, asked for a unanimous vote, and thanked Feind in “coming forth with a reasonable” agenda item. Throughout, Campbell, who’d been silent almost the entire meeting, sat back in his chair, next to city attorney Drew Smith, his hands clasped, chewing, as he often does, gum and occasionally writing notes in his white legal pad. The only real surprise of the evening was Mealy’s vote: she actually made the motion to give Campbell the job–pending a routine background check. The motion, technically speaking, was not an outright job award, but to have the city attorney draft a contract with Campbell (the job pays about $90,000 a year), pending the results of a thorough background check. By one count, the entire discussion sealing Campbell’s appointment lasted less than 15 minutes Thursday evening, by the time the vote was taken at 7:43 p.m. In fact, it had lasted 18 months. Read more at Flagler Live.

McCook, Nebraska (population 7,338): The McCook City Council approved an employment agreement with J. Jeff Hancock for the McCook city manager position, Monday evening, during a regularly scheduled meeting at council chambers. During a phone interview this morning from Warrensburg, Missouri, Hancock said he was excited about coming to McCook and planned to initially spend as much as time as possible with city staff, employees and the City Council, in order to get an assessment of the community and begin building relationships. Hancock said examining finances, “to see where we are at,” would also be at the top of his early priority list. Hancock said he had found a place to live already and planned to move from Warrensburg on Friday, Oct. 28. Hancock’s annual salary will be set at $85,000 with an 11 percent retirement plan. Other benefits in the agreement include an additional $5,000 annual reimbursement to cover expenses of using his personal vehicle for city-related business; $6,000 to cover moving expenses; and a city paid cell phone. Hancock has 30 years of experience as a city manager, city administrator or assistant city manager. Read more at the McCook Daily Gazette.

St. Helena, California (population 5,765): St. Helena’s next city manager will be Gary Broad, current town manager of Ross in Marin County. The St. Helena City Council voted 5-0 Tuesday to approve Broad’s employment agreement, which gives him a $155,000 base salary — equal to that of former City Manager Mary Neilan. Broad was one of 116 applicants for the job. The council’s consultant, Bob Murray and Associates, prepared a list of 12 finalists. The council interviewed six of them, held follow-up interviews with two finalists, and selected Broad. Broad’s first day of work will be Monday, Nov. 14. Broad has a bachelor’s degree in economics and government from Wesleyan University in Connecticut and master’s degrees in city and regional planning and public administration from UC Berkeley. Broad has served in the town of Ross, population 2,300, for almost 20 years, as planning director, town administrator and currently town manager. He previously worked for the city of Petaluma for two years. Broad thanked the council for choosing him. He said he’s enjoyed meeting department heads and looks forward to working with city staff and the community. Broad lives in San Rafael. In addition to Broad’s $155,000 salary, his contract awards him medical, dental, life and long-term disability insurance; housing reimbursement of up to $24,000 for one year if Broad moves to St. Helena; up to $15,000 reimbursement for moving costs; 20 vacation days, five days of administrative leave, and two personal holidays per year; enrollment in the Public Employees’ Retirement System at the “2 percent at 55” formula, with the city paying the employee’s and employer’s contributions; and a matching contribution to the International City Management retirement plan of up to $200 a year. Like Neilan, Broad is entitled to six months of severance pay if the council fires him without cause. Broad may use a city vehicle for city business, or be reimbursed for mileage on his own vehicle. Read more at the St. Helena Star.

Broad will conduct his final Ross Town Council meeting Nov. 10 and begin in St. Helena Nov. 14. St. Helena’s previous city manager, Mary Neilan, was fired last March. Broad’s base salary in Ross was $196,000. According to the California state controller’s office salary report from 2009, Broad was making $220,234 in Ross, the highest among current city and town managers in Marin County. Read more at the Ross Valley Reporter.

Chadron, Nebraska (population 5,509): Chadron City Manager Sandy Powell resigned Monday, less than two weeks after a highly charged election that resulted in recall of Chadron mayor John Chizek  and vice mayor Steve Duncan. Acting at the first regularly scheduled meeting following the election, the three remaining council members, Donny Grantham, Levi Grant and Karin Fisher, moved a scheduled executive session performance review for Powell to the top of the meeting agenda, and emerged after ten minutes to unanimously approve Powell’s resignation and a separation agreement. The separation agreement provides Powell with the six months of severance pay specified in her original contract with the city, and stipulates that no other information about the agreement will be released to the public. Powell, who became city manager in April, 2007, had been the focus of criticism for  months. In Feburary  a group called Concerned Citizens of Dawes County and Chadron circulated petitions demanding that she be fired. The group later called for an investigation of Powell’s conduct with regard to a number of allegations of misconduct including interfering with citizens’ rights, creating a hostile work environment for city staff,  misuse of city funds for a pilot training class, and a conflict of interest regarding her husbands employment as subcontractor for the city wastewater treatment plant. A Scottsbluff attorney called in to act as a third party investigator of the complaints found that Powell had not acted illegally on any of 17 specific matters, but members of the Concerned Citizens group said the investigation was flawed, and unduly influenced in Powell’s favor by then-mayor Chizek. Read more at The Chadron Record.

Madeira Beach, Florida (population 4,505): Bill Mallory’s 33-week tenure as interim city manager has come to abrupt end. Mallory submitted a letter to Mayor Travis Palladeno and commissioners resigning from the position, effective Oct. 14. The resignation comes two days after a tumultuous city commission meeting in which Mallory was criticized and his actions questioned by past and current city officials. He will remain as chief of the Madeira Beach Fire Department. The city’s loss of virtually all of its senior management personnel, through resignations and firings, left Mallory performing the duties of city manager, community development director (zoning, plans review, code enforcement), community services (public works, streets, storm water, sanitation, parks, recreation), and finance (finances, payroll, risk management, insurance, human resources, parking). He had been in the final stages of interviews with candidates to fill some of these positions. Mallory has undergone criticism of his performance, mostly from Commissioners Robin Vander Velde and Nancy Oakley, almost since he took on the added duties of city manager in March. In August, Vander Velde had a critique of Mallory’s performance written by her inserted in his personnel file. That action was protested by Mallory and later overturned by the commission. At the latest commission meeting on Oct. 12, Mallory was criticized and accused of lying by Vander Velde, who said he failed to inform the commission that a financial consultant, brought in to help prepare the city budget in the absence of a finance director, was paid far in excess of an agreed-to limit. Vander Velde also accused Mallory of hiring the consultant as a part-time employee, rather than as a contractor, without the commission’s knowledge. Mallory said he had properly alerted the commission of the need to exceed the spending cap, and he said the status of the consultant as a part-time employee was recommended by the human resources manager to facilitate the payment process. The city attorney said Mallory could be reprimanded for failing to get a vote of approval before exceeding the spending cap established by the commission. At the same meeting, Mallory was faulted by former commissioner Martha Boos for interviewing the finance director candidates on his own, when, in her view, he lacked the financial knowledge to do so. Criticisms were also leveled by former city manager Jim Madden. Mallory defended his performance and work ethic in the resignation letter, saying he took on the additional jobs “without complaint, nor did I ask to have the terms of my contract amended to reflect those additional duties.” Mallory’s departure leaves the running of the city solely in the hands of the mayor and commission. Palladeno indicated the city is moving quickly to replace Mallory as interim city manager. He said he had spoken to another manager in city government regarding his availability and “have been assured that he can handle the position temporarily and will work to fill the code enforcement position immediately.” Though Palladeno did not name the individual he is considering, indications are it is marina director Dave Marsicano. Marsicano is the only manager left in Madeira Beach city government, and the mayor is known to be pleased with his performance as marina director. Read more at TBN Weekly.

Amid sharp criticism from residents and even one of its own members, the City Commission hired controversial former City Manager Jim Madden Tuesday to temporarily run the city. With a 3-1 vote, the commission offered Madden, also city resident, the job of interim city manager at a $2,000 per week salary. Madden replaces Fire Chief Chief Bill Mallory who resigned Friday as interim city manager after being accused last week by Madden and some commissioners of lying to the commission. Madden, who also called for Mallory to be fired, will now run the city until the commission can hire a permanent city manager, likely in December. A consultant hired to search for that new manager said he has received more 100 applications and inquiries from candidates in just the last two weeks. Mayor Travis Palladeno proposed Madden’s hiring and was supported by Commissioners Nancy Oakley and Robin Vander Velde. The three said the city is facing crucial deadlines to file required reports to the county and state and needs an experienced manager. Palladeno said a financial report is overdue to the state and a property tax report is due to the county next week. He and the other commissioners also hope that Madden can quickly fill several open positions, including finance director, planning/development director and code enforcement officer. Commissioner Terry Lister sharply disagreed, pointing out that Madden is currently suing the city over the severance package given former city manager W.D. Higginbotham Jr. by the previous commission. Madden also previously served as the city’s manager for two years until he was placed on administrative leave in 2004 (at his request) amid efforts to fire him. Previously, he was city manager in Pinellas Park until the commission there fired him in 1997. Despite repeated requests, Palladeno refused to allow Lister to propose another candidate for the interim manager position. At Vander Velde’s urging, Madden pledged not to access any documents relating to his lawsuit against the city. For more than a year, Madden has been a frequent visitor to city commission meetings, often criticizing the city’s budget and management. But Tuesday, it was Madden’s turn to hear sharp criticism from a large crowd of angry residents concerned about his record when he ran the city. Resident Steve Rayow said he decided to attend the meeting because he had become “so disappointed in the conduct of the members of this commission.” He said “something rotten” was going on in a city where the commission would want to bring back the “good old boy network” that included Madden and former Board of Adjustment chairman Joe Jorgensen. Resident Ken Jacobson begged the commission not to “scare away” a qualified permanent new city manager with less than a unanimous vote. Resident Diane Burkheimer chastised commissioners for not listening to residents. Resident Jan Stack similarly told the commission they needed to apologize to Mallory for what she said were “distasteful and tragic” comments about his job performance. Former city human resources manager Deborah Cline, who once threatened to sue the city for creating a hostile work environment and is now out of a job in a budget cutback, reminded the commission that Madden had twice resigned as manager and had problems with city employees. But despite that support and the continued determination of the three commission members (Vice Mayor Carol Reynolds did not attend the meeting), the loudest applause came when former Commissioner Steve Kochick told Palladeno, Oakley and Vander Velde they face a recall effort if they hired Madden. Nonetheless, after the vote to hire Madden, Palladeno asked the city’s attorney to draw up a formal employment contract so that Madden could begin his new/old job “as soon as possible.” Read more at the St. Petersburg Times.

Chesterfield, New Hampshire (population 3,982): Goshen Fire Chief Sue Labrie has been selected from a field of 20 candidates to replace outgoing town administrator Charlene Nardi. After Nardi resigned on Aug. 29 to become the new town administrator in Williamsburg, Chesterfield selectman wasted no time in the search for her replacement. Nardi has agreed to meet with Labrie to familiarize her with the job until she has settled into it. Keilson said that Labrie may also have access to a new program supported by the Hampshire Council of Governments that is designed to assist towns in selecting town administrators as well as providing training to new administrators. The town administrator is responsible for the operation of the Select Board office, oversight of town departments and grant administration for the town. The position is 32 hours per week for a salary of roughly $39,000. Labrie, 47, said she will continue on as fire chief at Goshen’s all-volunteer department. According to Labrie, the position became available at the perfect time. Labrie said balancing her two jobs will require prioritizing emergencies and evaluating if she needs to respond personally to a fire call. Having worked with residents of Chesterfield, Labrie says she feels as though she already has a nice sense of the community. Labrie and her husband Bob Labrie live in Goshen with their three daughters. Her first day on the job was last Tuesday. Read more at the Daily Hampshire Gazette.

Williams, Arizona (population 3,023): After two years without a permanent city manager, Williams City Council members have hired Brandon Buchanan to fill the position. Following Dennis Wells’ departure in November 2009, Williams City Finance Director Joe Duffy has acted as Interim City Manager. In May, Duffy pressed the city to begin a search for a candidate to fill the position. According to Williams Mayor John Moore, the search for a city manager began with 89 candidates. City Council members conferred and narrowed the field to six individuals. After interviews, three candidates were called back for a second interview. Buchanan, City Administrator in Oakley, Kansas for the past three years, came out on top. Buchanan attended graduate school at the University of Colorado School of Public Affairs. Prior to that, Buchanan received his BA from Arizona State. He began his higher education pursuing an architecture degree before switching gears. After completing his degree program, Buchanan moved into internships with the city of Phoenix. He then received his Masters in Public Administration and eventually began work for the city of Oakley. Originally from Arizona, Buchanan and his wife, Corrie, from the Los Angeles area, hoped to eventually move back westward to be closer to family. The Williams City Manager position looked like an excellent fit. Oakley’s population, at close to 2,000 people, is just a bit smaller than Williams. Buchanan said small towns provide opportunities for managers to really get involved in the community. Buchanan will finish up in Kansas Nov. 3. He and his family will move immediately, with Buchanan showing up for duty at city hall in Williams Nov. 9. He plans to hit the ground running, visiting with residents to get a pulse on concerns in the community. Read more at the Williams News.

Madison, Florida (population 3,006): On October 18, the Madison City Commissioners met in special session to write a profile for a new city manager.  During the regular meeting on October 11, the commissioners ironed out a severance package for retiring City Manager Harold Emrich, who has held the position for almost six years. The position opened at a special budget meeting on September 27 when Emrich tendered his resignation. At that meeting, the commissioners voted unanimously to accept Emrich’s letter. Emrich said that he was willing to remain in the office through his hiring anniversary date (March 14, 2012) in order to assist with a new manager’s transition. However, the commissioners voted to terminate his employment when his agreement expires on December 31, 2011. During the October 11 meeting, the commissioners discussed Emrich’s severance pay and benefits. Commissioners Myra Valentine and Judy Townsend moved to offer pay and benefits through December 31 with Emrich’s service ending on October 11. The motion was approved unanimously, and Emrich departed from the meeting. Paul Sharon of the International City/County Management Association offered assistance with the process at no cost to the city. He advised the commissioners to design a profile of the person they would hire, then advertise the position with the profile, salary range, and other pertinent factors. The commissioners will hold a special meeting on Tuesday, October 18, at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall to discuss the profile. Catron stressed that the public will be welcome at the meeting to offer input into the description. The commissioners expect to close advertising at the end of November so that Sharon can have time to review the resumes submitted and offer recommendations. Following that, the commissioners will conduct a series of interviews. Mayor Jim Catron said that he expects to have a new manager in place in February. Meanwhile, he (Catron) will serve as far as legally possible to carry out the duties of a manager. According to City Attorney Clay Schnitker, Catron can sign checks and invoices, but cannot instruct employees or mediate employee complaints. The commissioners decided that department heads will continue to supervise employees as usual. Schnitker offered a short list of persons who might fill in for emergency service. The decision to accept Catron’s services following former commissioner Jackie Johnson’s comment that paying the severance package while paying an interim manager would be an extra burden on the taxpayers. Read more at Greene Publishing.

Flandreau, South Dakota (population 2,341): The Flandreau City Council has devised a plan for its city administrator search. Council members and Mayor Warren Ludeman discussed at last week’s council meeting the best way to proceed in hiring a replacement for Chuck Jones, who resigned last month from his post as city administrator. Council members will read, on an individual basis, the resumes that come in to the office and later discuss the candidates during a council meeting executive session. The topic came up at the Oct. 3 meeting when Ludeman announced during his mayor’s report that he would like to form a three-member “preliminary” committee consisting of him and a pair of councilors. However, council member Dan Sutton said he’d rather have the entire council review applications. Ludeman said an entire council screening of each preliminary candidate could result in a more complicated process. Ludeman said a smaller committee could quickly weed out any applicants that seemed unqualified on the surface. Council member Bart Sample said he thought the process of hiring of current police chief Mike Eisenbarth went well. Public safety commission members got together and ranked their preferences for each candidate, he said. Ludeman then informed council members that they would have to hold an official meeting with public notice each time they had a gathering in which to review candidates. Sample then suggested that each member review resumes individually, for review at future meetings. Sutton eventually made a motion stating that each councilor would individually review the applications and the full council would discuss them at a future meeting during an executive session. The motion passed, with all councilors voting in favor. City finance officer Tammy Pitsenburger said that as of the Oct. 3 meeting she had already received three applications for the position. Read more at the Moody County Enterprise.

Irwindale, California (population 1,366): The City of Irwindale appointed South Pasadena City Manager John Davidson to serve as its new City Manager effective Nov. 7 at its Council meeting Wednesday night. Davidson, who came to South Pasadena as a part-time manager in June 2009, was up against approximately 30 other applicants, said Sharmeen Bhojani, Human Resources Manager for Irwindale. And even though Davidson was just hired as a full-time employee for South Pasadena in April 2011, Mayor Mike Ten says this was part of the plan—that Davidson was brought on to help guide Assistant City Manager Sergio Gonzalez. Gonzalez came to South Pasadena in 2003 as a part of the community services department. He was promoted to Assistant City Manager in 2008. Read more at the South Pasadena Patch.

Rosebud, Texas (population 1,201): The City of Rosebud has a new city administrator – Larry Waller. He was appointed by the Rosebud City Council at a special meeting on Sept. 27. Waller brings a blue-collar and white-collar background of experience to the position.  He has served as a lineman for a utilities company and has owned a CPA firm. In addition, he has volunteered to help Rosebud in the past and also served as the Rosebud interim city administrator for the last two months. So, the city council knew who they were hiring. Before hiring Waller, the Texas Municipal League confirmed that the city did not have to post the position. He will work 40 hours/week and be paid $43,000/year. When asked what his goal was, Waller said, “As city administrator, I would like to work alongside City Council and the citizens of Rosebud to make the City a vibrant, more attractive place to live and work.” Read more at The Rosebud News.

Wheeler, Oregon (population 345): Wheeler’s search for a permanent city manager has become more urgent with the termination of interim city manager William Lee at a special meeting of its city council Monday evening. Lee, who worked previously in Jackson County as a code enforcement officer, had worked for Wheeler since Aug. 8. His availability was made known to the city in its search for an interim city manager through the League of Oregon Cities. According to Mayor Stevie Burden, it boiled down to a difference of opinion between her and Lee on how the city should be managed. In an email to the Citizen, Lee stated he felt he was being micromanaged by Burden in violation of the city charter and his contract. “The reality is I was never at city hall more than once a week, but found that tasks weren’t being completed in a timely manner” said Burden, noting that others in the community had expressed similar concerns to her. The council approved a motion to terminate its contract with Lee by a 3-2 vote. The mayor did not cast a vote. In the meantime, the Wheeler City Council continues its search for a permanent city manager. The council had previously reviewed its job description and announcement for the position and looks to begin advertising for the city manager position in the coming weeks. Read more at the Tillamook Headlight Herald.

Advertisements

Transitions: Compton, CA; Vista, CA; Trenton, NJ and more

“Let’s face it, when good times are rolling and the party is on, so to speak, no one wants to hear that the music is going to shut down.”–former Compton California City Manager Willie Norfleet

Compton, California (population 96,455): Amid financial turmoil and changing political tides, the Compton City Council has voted to fire its third city manager in five years. The council voted 3 to 2 late Tuesday to terminate City Manager Willie Norfleet, effective immediately. Norfleet had worked for the city for about four years and served as city controller until the council fired his predecessor, Charles Evans, last fall. Norfleet came under fire over revelations last spring that the city was running a $25-million deficit in its general fund and over his handling of budget cuts and mass layoffs intended to get the city’s finances back in line.

The council voted to bring in Lamont Ewell, a former Compton firefighter who went on to serve as city manager in San Diego and Santa Monica among other cities before retiring in 2009, as Norfleet’s replacement. Ewell’s contract is slated to be approved next week. Ewell, who grew up in Compton, said he sees taking the helm during troubled times as a way to pay back a debt to the city. Compton Councilwoman Yvonne Arceneaux, who voted to fire Norfleet, said the council is bringing in Ewell on a temporary basis in hopes he’ll spark a turnaround in the troubled city. Under law, Ewell may only work full time up to a year without sacrificing his pension benefits. Arceneaux said the council majority was unhappy with the way Norfleet handled the budget, and particularly with his lack of communication with some council members during that process.

The coalition of unions representing Compton employees filed an unfair labor practices claim over the layoffs and is threatening a lawsuit over alleged Brown Act violations in the way the budget was adopted. The Brown Act is the state statute that defines when government meetings must be public. The council voted in July to approve a last-minute amendment proposed by the city manager, with $1.2 million in concessions the unions had not agreed to and that the public — including some council members — did not see until midway through the meeting. Reached by phone, Norfleet said he had done his best in a tough situation and thought he was targeted partly because he pushed the council to make tough fiscal choices. He acknowledged that he could have been more vocal in warning the council that the deficit was ballooning before the city hit a crisis situation, but said some of his warnings went unheeded. The former city manager said he was not bitter over his ouster. Mayor Eric Perrodin voted against firing Norfleet, saying it was unfair to punish the city manager for a problem that had been building long before he took over. Read more at the Los Angeles Times.

Vista, California (population 93,834): Vista City Manager Rita Geldert said she plans to retire at the end of the year. Geldert has been Vista’s top administrator since 1997 and has been a public employee for more than 36 years. Geldert, 59, helped steer the city through tough economic times as cities have had to slash budgets to cope with decreased revenue and increased costs. The recession has prompted layoffs and reductions to services in the city in recent years, including leaving positions unfilled as employees retire or leave, reducing the city’s staff by about one-quarter. Geldert has orchestrated a plan to eliminate a recurring budget shortfall, known as a structural deficit. That plan, which will likely stay with the city as officials work out a budget for the next cycle, has so far aimed to keep the city financially viable by cutting spending by $5 million for the current fiscal year, which began in July. To do that the City Council approved taking an ambulance out of service, laying off seven employees, closing City Hall on all Fridays and cutting pay and requiring furloughs for all city employees except firefighters.

During her tenure, Geldert oversaw construction of three fire stations, the Vista Sports Park, the Moonlight Amphitheatre Stage House and a new Civic Center. Other milestones from her watch include the development of the Vista Village and beginning of the community volunteer program, Vistans ROC. She earned a bachelor’s degree in liberal studies from Cal State Chico and a masters of business administration from UC Davis. She has worked as a contracts administrator for Xerox Corp., personnel specialist for the California State University System, director of finance and administration for Dana Point, management services officer for Merced, personnel officer for Vacaville and assistant city manager in Vista. Geldert said in a news release she hopes to spend more time with her husband, three children and three grandchildren. Read more at The San Diego Union-Tribune.

Trenton, New Jersey (population 84,913): After stepping down from his position as the city’s business administrator last week, Eric Berry reported yesterday for his first day of work with a new employer. While the duties of his new job may be slightly different from those he undertook from his office at Trenton City Hall, he’ll at least be surrounded by a few familiar faces. Berry accepted a post this week working for the state Department of Community Affairs’ Division of Local Government Services, an agency that provides broad oversight of personnel and purchasing decisions made by the city as a condition of Trenton’s acceptance of nearly $30 million in aid last year.

Berry was the seventh person to serve as business administrator since Mayor Tony Mack took office last July. Mayoral aide Anthony Roberts has been appointed acting business administrator to succeed him. The city has had a rocky relationship with DCA, which has the authority to approve or reject cabinet-level appointments. It has tossed out several of Mack’s picks, including Nicole Sharpe for finance director and Caroline Clark for municipal court judge. After Mack told reporters he was going to name Ismael Rivera as acting police director in the wake of a city council vote not to consider his appointment, the department ordered the mayor to withdraw Rivera’s name. More recently, it has cast doubt on the qualifications of several acting directors recently appointed to head the public works and housing and economic development departments.

South Ward Councilman George Muschal has said Berry resigned under pressure from Mack after rumors surfaced that he was in talks with the Union County city of Plainfield for an administrator’s post there. Neff, meanwhile, said Berry is welcome to stay with the state. Read more at NJ.com.

Hercules, California (population 24,060): The Hercules City Council unanimously approved a three-year employment contract Tuesday with new City Manager Steve Duran. Duran’s first day in his new job will be Oct. 10. He currently is executive director of Richmond’s Community Redevelopment Agency as well as that city’s economic development director. Duran will be paid $192,500 annually, reflecting a base salary of $220,000 minus a 12.5 percent cut, the same percentage agreed to by all of the city’s employee bargaining units earlier this year. Duran’s pay will rise once the city increases the pay of other employees, and by the same percentage.

Duran’s predecessor, Nelson Oliva, who served in the top post from April 2007 to January 2011, received a base salary of $225,000 a year. Duran’s contract is broadly similar to Oliva’s, with several important differences: It provides for six months’ severance pay if terminated by the city without good cause, compared with 12 months for Oliva. There is no housing allowance provision in Duran’s contract; Oliva got a $250,000, zero-interest personal loan to help him buy a home in Hercules. Oliva is widely blamed for Hercules’ current financial crisis, although he has said he kept the City Council apprised of everything he did. The city has withheld payment of the second of two installments of his one-year severance pay. The city has sued Oliva for $3 million, alleging a conflict of interest in connection with the family company’s consulting contracts with the city; the value of the contracts rose to more than $1 million annually before they were terminated last fiscal year. Read at the San Jose Mercury News.

Longboat Key, Florida (population 6,888): If the Longboat Key Town Commission ratifies a contract signed today by Sarasota Deputy Administrator Dave Bullock, he is Longboat Key’s hire for a one-year interim town manager. The contract pays Bullock $180,000 for the year plus benefits (see Bullock’s contract), but according to Town Attorney David Persson, offers the commission flexibility if at any time it is not satisfied with Bullock’s performance. The terms say that Bullock is entitled to one-month of severance (under $20,000) if terminated at any time without cause during the year. If at the end of the year the commissioners want to keep Bullock, his salary will remain at $180,000. At the end of the year if the town wishes to terminate Bullock, the town will pay no severance whatsoever.

The decision to pursue Bullock follows the termination Sept. 19 of former Town Manager Bruce St. Denis. The commission laid out a strategy to locate an interim manager to keep the town moving as it searched for a permanent candidate. The process also was designed to allow the town to evaluate the interim manager as a prime contender. The decision to pursue Bullock came amid protest by Commissioner Lynn Larson at Monday’s Special Meeting when the commission authorized Persson to negotiate the contract. Larson told fellow commissioners to look at other options and at town employees as well. Town Attorney David Persson opened the discussion Monday about the interim town manager by saying he understood that each commissioner had the opportunity over the weekend to speak with Sarasota County Deputy Administrator Bullock. Persson sought direction as to whether the commission wanted to pursue Bullock and negotiate a contract or to continue its search.

The majority of the commissioners said the terms that Persson plans to negotiate with Bullock will protect the town in that it provides commissioners two distinct exit strategies. First, at any point in the year, the town can terminate Bullock and owe him one month’s severance. The other option is if at the end of one year, the town is not satisfied with Bullock or has found someone they prefer, Bullock can be terminated with no severance.

Vice Mayor Brenner spoke of instances where the number one candidate went elsewhere while a community got bogged down in process. Persson reminded the commission that he was instructed to look outside the organization and said that unless the commission changed the ground rules, that’s what he would continue to do.

Bullock has been continuously employed by Sarasota County since 1994 when he was hired at $59,999 as the solid waste director. Former County Administrator Jim Ley was hired in 1997 and Bullock was promoted in 1998 by Ley to the number-two position in the county as deputy administrator at a salary of $79,999. Bullock has remained in that position since and currently earns $180,065 per year. Bullock earned a Bachelors of Science in Education from West Chester State College in Pennsylvania in May 1972 and worked in the construction and waste management industries before relocating to Sarasota. Bullock has been married to Donna, the “smartest person I have ever met,” as he puts it, for 28 years. They have three grown children between them, daughter Noli, and sons, Sean and Michael. Bullock spoke of his passion for water sports — boating, scuba diving and fishing — that has kept him literally swimming and diving for years around the key. Bullock said if the contract is agreed upon, he will be available by the end of October. The commission will consider the contract and if a supermajority (at least five of seven) say “yes,” Bullock is Longboat Key’s new interim town manager. Read more at Longboat Key News.

Wildwood, New Jersey (population 5,325): City Commissioners gave the nod to two resolutions that should produce a cost savings for the city.The passage of the resolutions too place during the Wildwood Board of Commissioners meeting on Wed., Sept. 28. According to a press release issued by the city, “The Board unanimously passed a resolution appointing City Clerk Christopher H. Wood as Municipal Administrator of the City of Wildwood, effective immediately.” Wood’s current City Clerk salary of $65,000 per year will not increase. The City Administrator position has sat empty since May, 2011. The position was created by the previous administration as part of its reorganization. The previous administration paid more than $120,000 per year in salary, benefits and perks to a full-time Administrator. The city has modified its administrator position to be more inline with the position in Wildwood Crest.

Nepotism charges on both coasts, and a New Jersey bill to fight it

Rahway, New Jersey (population 28,077): Rahway’s first-year mayor repeatedly sought to get his wife a six-figure job by pressuring a top city official in charge of the hiring process, according to an ethics complaint filed with New Jersey’s Department of Community Affairs. The complaint, which The Star-Ledger obtained last week, details numerous occasions when Mayor Rick Proctor allegedly encouraged Rahway’s business administrator to hire his wife, Denise Proctor, as the city’s health officer. The mayor held that position for nine years until he resigned before taking office in January. Denise Proctor has since withdrawn her name from consideration, and another candidate has been hired for the job. An attorney for the mayor defended his client and accused others of distorting the facts for their own interests. The allegations of nepotism surfaced after several weeks of turmoil in Rahway, where the Democratic mayor has come under attack for allowing the health officer position to be vacant during Hurricane Irene and staffed only 10 hours per week during the first six months of the year. State law requires full-time staffing of the position.

Proctor, who was a Union County freeholder for eight years, was already publicly accused of not recusing himself from the hiring process, despite his wife’s candidacy and the advice of the city attorney. But the newest accusations paint a far broader picture of the mayor’s involvement, even alleging he promised the job to his wife and another candidate before the results of a civil service exam were released. The complaint was filed by Peter Pelissier, the city’s longtime business administrator and the official responsible for hiring the new health officer. He sent the complaint in August to the state’s Local Finance Board, which investigates possible ethical violations, and filed additional documents Sept. 16. The business administrator said, in a detailed narrative, the mayor not only wanted his wife hired, but he also demanded she receive a top salary and be named a director, which would have afforded her 25 vacation days. Read more at NJ.com.

News of Rahway Mayor Rick Proctor’s alleged interference with the selection of the city’s vacant health officer position prompted New Jersey Assemblywoman Amy Handlin, R-Monmouth, to sponsor anti-nepotism legislation (A-3963) introduced May 9, 2011 that would impose penalties on elected officials and public employees at the State, county and local levels of government. Current law only addresses certain jobs and certain relatives, and lacks specific penalties. Handlin’s bill, known as the “Comprehensive Anti-Nepotism Act,” defines the scope of who would not be able to be hired due to conflict of interest issues and provides that should the relevant ethics committee determine that the law was violated, the official would be immediately removed from public office or employment, and fined an amount three times the amount of the current penalty for ethics violations. Read more at NJ Assembly Republicans.

Meanwhile, on the west coast, there are charges of nepotism from both the former administrator and the former mayor of Oakland:

Okland, California (population 410,886): Cash-strapped Oakland has spent nearly $1 million and counting on outside lawyers to defend the city’s decision to fire former City Administrator Deborah Edgerly and her top assistant, Cheryl Thompson. Edgerly and Thompson were both fired in 2008 by then-Mayor Ron Dellums after Edgerly was accused of warning her nephew William Lovan, a convicted felon who worked for the city as a parking meter repairman, of a planned police gang sweep. Lovan resigned from the city last September after his arrest for drug possession. At the time, he was on home detention for a gun conviction – and soon after was sentenced to 16 months in state prison for violating parole.

Edgerly and Thompson were both at-will employees and served at the mayor’s pleasure, so they could be fired without cause. The two fought back, however, filing separate lawsuits claiming sex discrimination. They also claimed that the real reason they had been shown the door was their refusal to go along with Dellums’ use of city money to pay for a new office for his wife, who was acting as a City Hall adviser, and for refusing to use city money to pay for a trip Dellums took to South Africa a year after he took office. Thompson also claimed that Edgerly had promised her a severance package when she signed on as her $216,000-a-year assistant. The San Francisco law firm Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, which was brought in to defend the city, has so far billed Oakland $571,000 in Thompson’s case and $368,000 in Edgerly’s – at an average of $400 an hour.

City Attorney Barbara Parker felt the city could win both cases. But a majority of the City Council decided last week that it was time to cut its losses and pay Thompson $500,000 to go away. Edgerly’s case is still outstanding. Read more at the San Francisco Chronicle.

Transitions: Trenton, NJ; Woodland, CA; Rock Island, IL and more

Trenton, New Jersey (population 79,390): The merry-go-’round at City Hall continued Friday when Eric Berry resigned as business administrator, and Mayor Tony Mack named buddy and aide Anthony Roberts as acting BA — the eighth BA since Mack was sworn in last July. Berry is rumored to be following former Trenton Public Works Director Eric Jackson to Plainfield where Jackson this week was approved by city council there to take over as public works and urban development director. Jackson served under former Mayor Doug Palmer before finishing third in the last mayoral election. With Mack, he served as assistant business administrator then as an assistant to the Trenton Water Works superintendent. Mack tried to name Roberts assistant business administrator in late January and hike his salary from $65,000 to $80,000 annually, and critics charged Roberts had only minimal managerial or supervisory experience. Read more at The Trentonian.

Woodland, California (population 55,468): Woodland officials announced Wednesday that Kevin O’Rourke, Fairfield’s retired city manager, will step in on Oct. 3 and serve as interim city manager there through March 2012. Woodland’s current city manager, Mark Deven, is departing Friday for a similar position in Arvada, Colo. O’Rourke served as a city manager for more than 30 years in the cities of Stanton, Buena Park and Fairfield, according to a news release. Following his retirement from Fairfield in 2007 after 10 years of duty, O’Rourke remained active in the International City/County Management Association and the League of California Cities. He most recently served as the interim city manager for Stockton, from October 2009 through July 2010. Read at The Reporter.

Rock Island, Illinois (population 43,884): After nearly a quarter century, city manager John Phillips is retiring Friday. Mr. Phillips’ successor, Thomas Thomas, of Macon, Ga., was hired by the city council and will take over on Oct. 24. Assistant city manager and public works director Bob Hawes will act as interim city manager until then. Mr. Phillips came to Rock Island in 1987 from Rockford, where he was city administrator. Outside of city hall, Mr. Phillips is a husband and the adoring father of two. He is an avid runner and is said to play a mean acoustic guitar. Mr. Phillips and his family will remain in Rock Island after his retirement. His future endeavors will include volunteering with YMCA officials at the helm of the Pioneering Healthy Communities campaign. Still in its early stages, the campaign will use funds from a federal grant to improve the health of people in the most impoverished areas of Rock Island through nutrition and fitness. Read more at Quad Cities Online.

Allen Park, Michigan (population 27,564): From a failed movie studio to the decision to issue – and later rescind – layoff notices to its entire Fire Department, the city has seen its share of controversy over the past year. But for new City Administrator John Zech, who took the position Aug. 25, the city’s struggles were part of what coaxed him out of retirement and onto the city council dias. During his contract, which councilors extended until the November general election, Zech said he intends to lend his fix-it skills to the city’s finances, helping to finalize budgets for water and sewer and solid waste, which were left incomplete with this year’s budget, adopted July 1. He also hopes to retune the current budget to reduce expenses after a recent Plante & Moran audit showed the city was losing $350,000 a month. Zech said his main goal is to make sure the new council after the election will not face tough budgetary decisions as the “first thing on their plate.” Originally from Detroit, Zech said he’s always been interested in helping to develop cities that have “drifted in the wrong direction.” He earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Detroit then went on to seek a master’s degree in public administration from Ohio State University while working as a community relations representative for the city of Columbus. As his responsibilities and workload increased, he said school was relegated to the back burner and he dropped out a few credits shy of his degree, a decision he said he still regrets. He then worked for the cities of Plymouth and later Wayne, where he was city manager for 18 years and still resides. He retired in December 2010, but said he was convinced to leave his first-ever sabbatical after city officials presented him with the opportunity after former City Administrator David Tamsen stepped down last month to become city attorney. Though his position is only to last until the election, Zech said he’s confident he can make a difference while he’s there. Read more at the Times-Herald.

Southwest Ranches, Florida (population 7,345): Southwest Ranches is looking for a new administrator to replace the late Charlie Lynn, who died in July after complications from heart surgery. Lynn, hired in May 2009, was credited with steering Southwest Ranches through tough financial times and helping bring more organization to Town Hall. Councilman Doug McKay said he is looking for “someone with a strong backbone who can make the calls he needs to make” while being sensitive to town politics and residents. Mayor Jeff Nelson said he hopes to have someone in place by mid-November. Town officials want to hire someone with at least five years experience as a city administrator, preferably in South Florida. Applications are due Oct. 14 at 10 a.m. Read more at the Orlando Sentinel.

East Hampton, Connecticut (population 2,691): The town’s interim town manager is taking a leave of absence to deal with an unexpected health issue requiring surgery. In a letter to the council last week, Interim Town Manager John Weichsel said he is undergoing surgery this week and that the operation will require “a fairly long recovery.” Weichsel, 78, would not discuss the health issue, nor would he comment on how long he would be away. He said he will undergo surgery Tuesday at Yale New Haven Hospital, and will remain in the hospital for six days. In the meantime, Weichsel named Finance Director Jeffery Jylkka acting assistant interim town manager, saying his handling of problems relating to Tropical Storm Irene demonstrated that he is “up to the job for the period needed.” Weichsel’s appointment, five months ago, was intended to bring stability to the town following months of turmoil over the dismissal of Police Cheif Matthew Reimodo in June 2010. Reimondo was ousted by then-Town Manager Jeffery O’Keefe, in what the town manager said was a cost-saving measure. Reimondo claimed he was targeted for bringing forward sexual harassment complaints by three female town employees against O’Keefe. O’Keefe denied the charges. He later resigned, and Reimondo won his job back in a townwide vote. Weichsel was Southington’s town manager for 44 years, one of the longest serving in the country. He replaced Interim Town Robert Drewry, who was brought last November after O’Keefe resigned. Weichsel’s departure will be discussed in a close-door council session Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. at town hall. The regular council meeting will follow at 6:30 p.m. Read more at the Hartfield Courant.

Truro, Massachusetts (population 2,336): Newly appointed Town Administrator Rex Peterson has agreed to a $100,000 annual salary, a slight increase over the salary of his predecessor. Town officials are still finalizing the details of the contract, a task that will be completed before Oct. 3, when Peterson begins work in Town Hall, Selectman Curtis Hartman, chairman of the board, said Thursday. The selectmen wanted to match other town administrator salaries in the region, according to meeting minutes of the board. Former Town Administrator Pam Nolan earned about $96,000 annually, Hartman said. Statewide, the average annual salary for municipal managers or administrators runs slightly above $100,000, according to West Boylston Town Administrator Leon Gaumond, executive committee president of the Massachusetts Municipal Management Association. The salaries generally depend on responsibilities and location, Gaumond said. Peterson has worked for the past 10 years as the assistant town administrator in neighboring Wellfleet. The town of Wellfleet has posted a job opening for its assistant town administrator psot and expects to begin reviewing resumes in early October, Wellfleet Town Administrator Paul Sieloff said Friday. Read at the Cape Cod Times.

Lonaconing, Maryland (population 1,214): John Winner, longtime town administrator of Lonaconing, died Sunday night at the Western Maryland Regional Medical Center where he had been a patient for a week, according to Mayor Jack Coburn. Winner was 73. Warren Foote, an elected town official for 25 years and a close personal friend, said Monday that Winner had a remarkable way with people, especially in heated situations. Both Coburn and Foote said Winner’s legacy is the town’s water system, something he worked constantly to improve. Eichhorn-McKenzie Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements. Visitation will take place there Tuesday from 2 to 8 p.m. Read more at the Cumberland Times-News.

Dewey Beach, Delaware (population 341): As Mark Allen was walking down the street to the Town Hall to report for his first day as town manager transitional liaison, he received phone calls from Commissioner Marty Seitz and Mayor Diane Hanson asking him not to report to work and that his start date would be delayed at least a week. Allen was appointed as the transitional liaison Sept. 9 in a 3-2 vote, with Seitz and Hanson dissenting. Allen then called Commissioner Jim Laird, asking him why he was told by members of Town Council not to report to Town Hall, and Laird responded to him saying he did not know why those calls would be made. After that, Allen decided to step down from the position. Allen said he signed a memorandum of agreement Sept. 16 and Hanson’s signature was not on the document when he signed it, he said. After Hanson was re-elected Sept. 17, Allen told her that if she did not want him to do the job, that he wouldn’t mind stepping down, but Hanson did not ask him to do so. Allen said Hanson was going to give him a tour of the Town Hall Monday. What bothered Allen the most, he said, was that he was selected, and then after the election on Sept. 17, “the rules started changing.” Allen said he was looking forward to serving as the transitional liaison and, depending what he thought of his experience, would have considered pursuing the permanent position. Allen said his professional background lended itself nicely to the Transitional Liaison position. He spent his first career as a naval officer pilot on aircraft carriers and spent many of his tours of duty focused in and around career-enhancing leadership positions. Concerns for Allen that he wanted to take care of included restoring the town’s finances. Allen said he also hoped that residents will start to believe they have a voice year-round, not just at election time. Hanson said Police Chief Sam Mackert will continue to assume the responsibilities of Town Manager until the Town Manager Transitional Liaison or a permanent Town Manager is selected, whichever comes first. Additionally, Denise Campbell, chair of the town’s marketing committee since its inception in 2010 and wife of Allen, confirmed that she has also stepped down from her position, as well as marketing committee member Jill Carr. When asked to comment about the three departures, Hanson said she has not spoken with Campbell or Carr and that she does not think they are related to Allen’s departure. Read more at DelMarVaNOW.com.