Sunday, January 17, 2016

COMMENTARY City Council’s Selection of City Administrator: The Antithesis of an Open and Competitive Process

“The process needs to be an open competitive process, where someone, such as an assistant from within, as well as qualified individuals from outside the organization compete for the job.”
Source: Alan Bergren, International City/County Management Association (ICMA), (2013)

Regarding the City’s Personnel System, specifically Recruitment, Selection and Appointment, the Carmel-by-the-Sea Municipal Code states, as follows:

Chapter 2.52

Article IV. Recruitment, Selection and Appointment

2.52.100 Recruitment and Selection Procedure.

When a position vacancy occurs or is impending which the City intends to fill, the following includes steps usually taken under the direction of the City Administrator:

A. Prepare a recruitment announcement;

B. Distribute the recruitment announcement for posting in the various City facilities, organizations and agencies;

C. Place paid advertisements in the appropriate news media and professional and technical publications;

D. Receive and evaluate applications;

E. Notify applicants as to whether they are qualified for further consideration;

F. Provide disqualified applicants an opportunity to submit additional clarifying information if the appointing authority requests it;

G. Notify candidates of the time and place of the selection process;

H. Conduct selection process;

I. Determine and notify successful candidates resulting from selection process; notify unsuccessful candidates;

J. Establish employment list, when appropriate, as determined by the appointing authority. (Ord. 87-1 § 2, 1987).

Yet the City Council did not follow the aforementioned Recruitment, Selection and Appointment process for city administrator with the announcement of Chip Rerig, AICP, as “City Administrator Candidate,” “a person whose application form has been accepted as meeting the specific qualifications for a class of position and the general requirements for City employment,” according to the Municipal Code. And while there are no laws requiring a city to post of advertise a job opening, “the best way to prevent having an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) discrimination complaint or lawsuit filed against a hiring employer is to advertise a job opening and then ensure that the city hires the applicant that is best qualified for the position. Federal, state, and sometimes local laws prohibit hiring practices that discriminate on the grounds of age, disability, race, color, religion, sex, pregnancy, citizenship, military service and national origin. A city’s hiring practice of merely advertising an opening to a certain geographic area, or merely by word of mouth, for example, may be used as evidence of discriminatory intent if a claim is filed against the city. To avoid a discrimination claim, an employer should advertise a job opening so that it reaches a large cross-section of the population. Advertising in a general circulation newspaper and on the internet are good examples of places to post a job opening. Posting jobs internally that are promotional opportunities for current employees is usually a good idea and accepted as proper as long as it is pursuant to a consistent policy of doing so. If a city does not have a hiring policy, including a policy regarding the advertisement of a job opening, the city should seriously consider adopting one. Before advertising a job vacancy, an employer should ensure it contains a written job description that provides objective qualifications and responsibilities necessary to perform the job. The description should be devoid of any reference to sex, race, national origin, or any other protected class. In addition, a job description should include the essential functions of the position and other requirements, such as education, skills, and work experience. Once a job description is in place, it should be used as a template for the job advertisement.”
By taking the time to adopt a hiring policy and to advertise a job opening to a wide range of people, an employer increases its chance of hiring the best qualified person for the job. In addition, an employer may avoid a discrimination claim or lawsuit.”

And importantly, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (1964) “does not apply only to hiring or firing an individual, but includes all aspects of the employment relationship, including: compensation, assignment, classification, transfer, promotion, layoff, recall, job advertisements, recruitment, testing, use of company facilities, training and apprenticeship programs, fringe benefits, pay, retirement plans, disability leave, or other terms and conditions of employment.

Finally, arguably the most important decision any city council makes is the selection of a city administrator/manager. Did Mayor Jason Burnett and City Council Members Ken Talmage, Victoria Beach, Carrie Theis and Steve Dallas honestly evaluate the state of our city and tenure of the previous city administrators? Did they assess primary challenges and opportunities for the new city administrator? Did they assess our city's needs and key priorities? Did they fairly assess our city's strengths and challenges in attracting top candidates? Or did they take an “"I'll know it when I see it" stance? Answers to these questions are critical because it appears that the mayor and city council valued local ties to the Monterey Peninsula over qualifications and city management experience. Time will tell whether or not that decision was wise.

How to Successfully Recruit a City Manager In the 21st Century
Rod Gould and Glenn Southard
October 2004

Employment Law Manual for Texas Cities
Laura Mueller
Assistant General Counsel
Texas Municipal League

Straight From The Mayor: Selecting a new City Manager
Submitted by Mayor John Sullivan on Thu, 03/29/2012

Written & Published by L.A. Paterson

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