Staff to help whittle down list of city manager candidates

Cape-Coral-Daily-Breeze.com – Cape Coral, FL
May 3, 2010

Staff to help whittle down list of city manager candidates
Council turns to city attorney in pursuit of MWH documents

By Drew Winchester

Cape Coral City Council will lean on the experience of its Human Resources Department in choosing not more than 12 finalists for the city manager position before choosing eight finalists of its own.

Council members said during Monday’s special meeting that they wanted flexibility when pooling the potential city managers, allowing them to look outside of the pre-ordained qualifications requested in the city manager job listing.

That could mean that someone without a minimum of 10 years experience in government or business management, or without a master’s degree in public administration, business administration, economics or a related field.

“I don’t believe we should have our hands tied. We should be able to use judgement,” Mayor John Sullivan said. “If we see someone who’s a good candidate, whether they’re eligible or ineligible … we should have the choice to push those people forward.”

Both Sullivan and Councilmember Pete Brandt said previously that rumors circulating about candidates Gary King and Tom Leipold already being eyed for the position are false and unfounded.

Brandt assured the audience that current City Manager Carl Schwing’s job would not be in jeopardy should he not be chosen for the position permanently. It’s been said that Schwing would be placed back in his old job of assistant city manager.

“Mr. Schwing is not going anywhere,” Brandt said.

Councilmember Kevin McGrail said he’s most concerned about rushing the process, by trying to meet a June 14 deadline suggested by Brandt, who said it is important to have a new manager selected by the time council breaks for the summer.

“I’m not comfortable the June 14th date needs to be carved in stone,” McGrail said. “I’m not comfortable putting a new city manager in place before we go on hiatus, especially if it’s not someone who is familiar with our city.”

The motion was unanimously passed to continue with the method suggested by human resources.

MWH and the Kessler audit

City attorney Dolores Menendez was instructed by council to pursue the “best and most cost effective” methods in order to obtain documents from MWH that Michael Kessler claims he needs to complete his audit.

That could mean the city will be trying to flex its subpoena powers in trying to obtain those documents, though Menendez warned that power would only extend to investigating the city’s affairs, which the audit could fall under the purview of.

“Maybe there is a link between MWH and the affairs of the city,” she said.

Menendez also warned the council that “all roads lead to court,” something that McGrail said he desperately wants to avoid – getting tied up in a lengthy and costly, legal battle.

City staff said it has not yet spent the $60,000 council previously approved for re-starting the audit, and Brandt said the next steps will help to determine what, and if, the city will be spending the approved amount.

“We may find it’s so darn costly it’s not worth moving forward,” Brandt said.

Sullivan said completing the audit will put a controversial matter to rest, either by proving that MWH did not overcharge the city, or that the city is owed money.

Councilmember Chris Chulakes-Leetz agreed.

“If MWH did nothing wrong, let’s validate that,” he said. “If they did, we have a refund due to the citizens.”

The item was approved 6 2, with Councilmembers Kenneth McClain and Derrick Donnell dissenting.

Kessler gets definitive answers.

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