Couldn’t make the last Mount Dora City Council meeting? Below is the conversation, in narrative minutes format of the February 4, 2016 Mount Dora City Council Special Meeting.
February 4, 2016 Special City Council Meeting
With all members of the City Council present:
Mayor Girone read a statement explaining why he had called a special meeting, and the preparations he had made for it, including contacting city attorney Cliff Shepard, who agreed he should move forward to contact potential candidates for the job of interim city manager for Mount Dora. Candidates Russ Blackburn, Steven Cottrell and Mark Kutney were candidates with whom the City’s former recruiting firm (used when Pastue was hired) were familiar and, Girone said, were highly recommended.
The Mayor supplied resumés to the council and had hard copies available for the audience in attendance to review. Mayor Girone said all candidates were available next week for interviews.
Ms. Rich asked why Mr. Reggentin was not considered the interim and asked for clarification why the process was moving forward, since she felt the position was filled already. Ms. Rich also inquired why citizens were reviewing the candidates’ resumés prior to council involvement.
Ms. Rich disagreed heatedly with the Mayor on the process. Mr. Rolfson asked if Mr. Reggentin (Deputy City Manager) is a contender for the interim position, and described his rationale that Reggentin was, in his estimation, a natural choice.
The Mayor said, in his opinion, it was unfair to expose Mr. Reggentin to the criticism that would be associated with him taking on the role of interim city manager. He felt an independent person would be better for the role.
Mr. Slaby said no one should put pressure on Mr. Reggentin to take the job. He said Mr. Reggentin should apply for the job.
Mr. Rowlett said Mr. Reggentin has a full plate. He wants him to maintain his current position as Planning and Zoning Director.
Ms. Tillett said her personal feeling was that Mr. Reggentin could apply for interim, but she felt a level of objectivity that could only come from an outside source would best serve the city.
Mr. Crail agreed with Mr. Rowlett that Mr. Reggentin already has a full-time position. He said the interim position could go on for a number of months. He also agreed with Ms. Tillett.
Mr. Shepard noted that, in accordance with the charter, a qualified department head can be appointed by the council to perform the duties of the city manager for longer than 21 days, but the council has leeway to interpret that portion of the charter as they choose.
Mr. Reggentin explained that an interim city manager had been used in the past, when a former city manager was dismissed.
Council had a discussion about the charter and what it may provide, in the way of guidance, and how that language may be interpreted.
Mayor Girone reiterated his position that it was important that the council be prepared for Mr. Pastue’s departure.
The mayor re-directed the conversation back to the candidates who have offered their resumés for interim city manager.
The mayor said that individual interviews were to be moved forward quickly, coordinated by Human Resources Director Ken Bloom.
Mr. Slaby thinks there should be a process to fill interim city manager posted. He said that there may be other employees in the city that would want to do it. It should be open for all employees to apply. He doesn’t think the job should be handed to anyone.
Ms. Tillett agreed with Mr. Slaby.
Mayor Girone directed council back towards the applicants he brought forth.
Mr. Rolfson said Mr. Kutney is only interested in a permanent position, according to his cover letter. The Mayor acknowledged the cover letter, stating his interest in only being considered as a permanent position.
Mayor Girone suggested they interview the four candidates whose resumés he supplied and move forward. Mayor Girone said all four candidates were available Monday and Tuesday, February 8 & 9.
Mayor Girone said the interim city manager would start March 5, the day after Mr. Pastue would leave.
Mr. Bloom, Human Resources Director briefly discussed how the process could work, including how consideration for how the individual’s pay would work for the person engaged in the position.
Mr. Rolfson discussed the process by which Mr. Pastue had been selected.
Mr. Shepard asked if the council wanted the interim included or excluded in the search for a permanent city manager. Explaining it was up to council, he said it may put a “chill” on potential future candidates for the permanent position, if an interim was to be included and allowed to apply for the permanent job – potential candidates assuming that the interim already had a leg up on them.
Mr. Shepard asked if they would be offering a scripted set of questions, saying if they did not, they may need to speak with the Human Resources Director to make sure their questions do not run afoul of labor practices.
Girone acknowledged that an internal candidate could limit the pool of potential candidates.
Mr. Rolfson suggested other council members could get additional resumés. The Mayor said he had done due diligence on a “Managers in Transition” list with a recruiter and recommended the names that the Mayor had.
The Mayor suggested they look to the list he supplied and choose others if the ones he recommends they talk with don’t work out.
Mr. Rowlett thought they should go with what the people the Mayor brought up.
Mr. Rolfson asked for a list of all that are available since there is a very limited list of available candidates.
Mayor Girone wanted to stick with the four he had selected.
Mr. Rolfson was dissatisfied with the number of candidates in the limited list provided.
Mr. Slaby asked to address whether the interim candidate being considered could also be a candidate for the permanent job. Mr. Shepard said it would be wise to make the decision now.
Mr. Slaby doesn’t care if the interim is or is not included in the search for a permanent city manager. But he suggested it would be fine with him to have the interim also included and allowed to be considered amongst the candidates for permanent city manager.
Mr. Rowlett agreed the interim should be allowed to apply for a the permanent position. Ms. Tillett agreed, also.
The city attorney said the individual meetings are not public meetings. The Mayor said he would coordinate the times with the individuals and make arrangements if Mr. Bloom would like.
Mr. Crail asked, since Mr. Kutney was not interested in the interim position, they were down to three candidates.
Mayor Girone said, allowing candidate Kutney to interview would be fine, since he could now also apply for the permanent job. Mr. Crail said if Kutney is not interested in the interim position, that should be clarified early on. Ms. Tillett said that can be addressed by letting him know he can apply for both. Mr. Crail said he would like at least five candidates to speak with.
Mayor Girone asked staff to contact Mr. Kutney to let him know he would be considered for both positions.
Mr. Rolfson agreed the council needed to consider more applicants.
Mayor Girone was concerned about getting 5 interviews done within 2 days.
Mr. Bloom said it could be possible, but they would need to have simultaneous interviews occurring within city hall.
Mr. Slaby wanted the job posted internally on the city website so other employees could apply.
Mr. Bloom said if that’s what council wanted it would be.
Mayor asked if they needed a motion to proceed, and the city attorney said, in the absence of minutes, they probably should make a motion and have a vote so the direction was clear.
Mayor Girone asked Mr. Shepard to help with the framing of the motion. Mr. Shepard reiterated that he heard the council intent as: that the council move that initial interviews be scheduled on Monday of Tuesday of next week, that the candidates can apply for the full-time position, and members of council can search for additional candidates and that the job be posted internally so employees can apply.
Mr. Slaby made the motion, but saying that staff would search for additional candidates. Mr. Shepard made the suggestion that also, anyone could forward potential candidates.
Mr. Reggentin asked what vetting he wanted from staff on internal candidates. Mr. Girone said the qualifications and certifications required to be city manager would be required from any employee.
Monique Richison – Hilltop Court
Ms. Richison agreed with Mr. Rolfson and Rich that there should not be a search. She warned incoming candidates that they would run afoul of the council if they disagreed with them. She said she felt the exercise of looking for an interim city manager was a waste of taxpayer money.
Jim Yatsuk – E Ninth Ave
Mr. Yatsuk suggested council talk to City of Eustis. They used someone internally and realized that the interim candidates were not what they wanted.
Rozann Abato – E First Avenue
Ms. Abato said this was an unnecessary convoluted exercise. She related her experience in the federal government. Deputy directors are in place to offer stability to employees who should not be caught up in political transitions. She said she believes the staff deserves some stability and that would occur if the council appointed Mr. Reggentin interim manager. She felt the numerous transitions were unfair to staff.
Back to council
Vote – 5 to 2 with Mr. Rolfson and Ms. Rich dissenting
Mr. Reggentin mentioned that he spoke with Mr. Pastue just prior to the meeting. Mr. Pastue was contacted by a city in Michigan, asked if he would consider a job with them. Mr. Pastue wanted to know if he was offered the job, if the council would consider an amendment to his employment agreement – that if he did get a job, during the 20 week period of his severance – he would not take the money from the city (his severance) if he accepted another job.
Mayor Girone asked if the issue could be discussed. Mr. Shepard said yes. Mr. Girone said this discussion was heresay. Mr. Reggentin said he didn’t want the council to take action, he was giving them a heads up. Mayor Girone wanted something coming to council in writing in a formal format. He didn’t want to talk about it tonight.
Meeting was adjourned.
** The Mayor has called another special council meeting to continue the discussion on Thursday, February 10 at 5:00pm at city hall.
Melissa DeMarco, Editor (firstname.lastname@example.org)