from: Dianne Gardner
to: City Council
July 6, 2014
Dear Mayor Green, Vice Mayor Burnette, Councilman Bastian, Councilman Kennedy and Councilman Ford in absentia:
I respectfully request that what appears to me to be a hastily scheduled meeting to discuss hiring an interim city manager and the city manager selection process be delayed until our full council can be in attendance. This meeting is planned for Tuesday, July 15th at 5:15 PM. As you all well know, Councilman Bob Ford, District I, is currently out of town and returns either on July 16th or 17th.
Surely a delay of no more than 48 hours to guarantee District I constituents a voice trumps any other scheduling rationale. The choice of interim manager and the city manager selection process are too important to leave any of our duly elected officials out. Long term costs and consequences are involved here for our city. Our taxpayers deserve to hear all the differing view points we know exist on council. Certainly after all that has transpired recently we surely want this hiring process to be open, transparent and unbiased.
I am sure it is not our mayor’s intention to disenfranchise an entire district. If this meeting is held without District I’s duly elected councilman on the dais to represent it, then that de facto disenfranchisement becomes a reality for us.
My perception: This choice of scheduling this meeting before all councilmen can be present is a problem in the making for everyone that can easily be avoided.
And at a minimum, ensuring that all councilmen are present, should silence any critics who might reasonably say you are trying to manage or silence dissent by not waiting 48 hours for Bob Ford’s return. A Simple Fix. It’s a win/win for all of us on that at least. Its a start.
With regard to the agenda for the meeting, I, for one, am hoping that the city will really think outside the box this time. Please… seriously look to the private sector for new people to fill these most recently vacated positions of City Manager, Finance Director, Public Utilities Director, and Purchasing Agent. Our city certainly fills our various volunteer boards like Audit and Budget with private sector experts. And we all seem to agree that these folks bring real world experience to the table that we as a city government desperately need.
My rationale is this:
Port Orange has really given the FCCMA “professional manager” concept a fair try. We have just had 3 FCCMA credentialed city managers resign after a period of great turmoil. And after relatively short and embattled tenures. And they leave us with some real problems that were uncovered still in place.. yet to be fixed. With final costs yet to be determined. And it cost us a lot to hire and now lose these men. So the selection process is critical
Our previous city manager, Ken Parker, was a member of FCCMA, a credentialed professional city manager and in his position with this city for decades. We know the financial fall out for the taxpayer from that administration. FCCMA credentialing and membership may be a measure of something, but clearly, at least in my view, it does not necessarily guarantee a successful administration or even fiduciary or managerial competence.
So mayor and council, I am asking that you seriously consider hiring individuals for these critical positions now vacant with a business background, mind set and approach. Hiring from the private sector for government entities has become a trend and is working well in many cities.
On a personal note, this scheduled date of Tuesday, July 15th @ 5:15 PM means I will be forced to choose between missing this meeting or missing my volunteer job on the Parks and Recreation Board which is scheduled at the same time, 5:00 PM on Tuesday, July 15th. There may be others on the P&R Board who want to attend this special meeting as well.
As a booster of volunteerism in our city, Mr. Mayor, I know it cannot be your intention to make volunteer board members have to make a choice of which important meeting to miss. A distressing prospect for me.
You have asked that both council and citizens bring solutions rather than problems. These are my suggestions and I hope potential solutions. At a minimum, please reset this meeting date. Again, a simple fix.
Thank you Mr. Mayor and Council.
Dianne Templeton Gardner
618 Ruth Street
Port Orange, Florida 32127
PS: Can we get an agenda on this meeting too, with a list of potential presenters if there are any, any documents that may reflect any staff work already done in locating an interim manager, anything that would indicate how council is thinking and its approach to this issue?
Donald O. Burnette
Dennis A. Kennedy
Term expires: Dec. 2014