Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Lake City

City Mgr Search Back on Track, Field Narrowed to 13, Mayor Welcomes Q's From the Community

13 Finalist Applications & Rankings Available in Story

LAKE CITY, FL – As reported earlier, Thursday evening was busy in Lake City with both the City Council and the County 5 meeting concurrently for the first time in the decade that this reporter has been covering the two. On the City's emergency-special meeting agenda was the continuation of the new city manager search.

Former City Councilman Glenel Bowden addressed the Council and suggested that there may have been inadvertent sharing of ranking information between the council members because all scoring information was not submitted at the same time on Monday evening. He added that he didn't have any proof of that.

School Teacher Common Sense
Councilwoman Moses Speaks Out

Last Monday Evening

Council members Jefferson and Moses did not turn in their rankings on Monday. However, Councilman Jefferson was the only council member who did not show up at the meeting with his rankings. He offered no explanation that could be heard.

Ms. Moses, during a discussion of the rankings, told the Council, "I ranked mine one to ten. What I think we had talked about is that we would do that with each of us... which would give us a wider range of points. And then we could see where the natural divide is."

Mayor Witt asked Mr. Jefferson how long it would take him to rank his candidates.

Mr. Jefferson answered, "One day, that's all."

Councilwoman Moses, who was furious with the County's mainstream media, the Lake City Reporter, for reporting that she appeared at Monday's Council meeting unprepared, clarified what happened on Monday night. "I showed up at this meeting with my ten ranked, on paper. When we decided that we would have an extra day, I kept my list because it gave me a day to do more research. I thought that was appropriate. I did that; turned my list in the next day."

"I want to make sure that everybody understands that... My list did not change."

Mr. Bowden told Ms. Moses that he was not suggesting that she did anything wrong.

Community activist Sylvester Warren suggested that the City Council should wait until after the November election to choose a new city manager. His suggestion was ignored.

HR's Michele Greene Steps Up to the Plate

HR Director Michele Greene               (file)

Human Resource Director Michele Greene was next to address the City Council. She advised, "We need to invest our time in vetting these candidates. I am going in and doing the reviews that we need to do... I do need to reach out when you have selected the applicants that you are looking to move forward to the next step. I need to reach out to each individual; verify that they are still interested in being considered for this position; then get the proper documentation in order to proceed in doing checks. That could take a couple days."

She added that education and employment verification can take some time.

Today, Ms. Greene advised your reporter that each candidate will now have to complete a City employment application and the application will be used in the background check.

Ms. Greene provided a time line, a schedule of hiring events, to the Council for approval:

• May, 4: background information from Human Resources to Council Members for review.

• May 9: Special Meeting to finalize short list of applicants after members review of preliminary background.

• May 18: deadline for submission of 3-5 interview questions to Human Resources Director.

• June 4 - 8: Special Meetings two days (potentially three) for interviews.

•June 11 - 15: LCPD background checks on top 2 applicants as determined by Council.

• June 18: reception prior to Council Meeting from 5-6 pm for top 2 candidates.

• June 19: Special Meeting 1PM second round of interviews for top 2 candidates with selection of successful applicant to move forward in the negotiation process.

Mayor Witt told the Council, "We don't want to rush it. Do you feel this is a good time line for you to meet?

   Applicant Tally Sheet: the 13 ranked candidates

Ms. Moses said, "This gives us time to really do the job well."

Councilman Ward: "I make a motion that we accept this guideline."

It passed unanimously.

City Attorney Fred Koberlein, Jr., addressed HR Director Greene:  "Ms. Greene, you said 'the ranked list.' You don't have any problem with Council asking someone unranked to move on the next round, do you?"

Ms. Greene didn't miss a beat, "No sir, it's the pleasure of Council."

 Top 13 Apps. (alphabetically)

Mayor Witt added, "I think it's wide open right now on who we put on the next list. My preliminary thinking is we either stop at the nine or stop at the eleven. I think they are good quality candidates. As Mr. Koberlein said, 'If anybody knows anybody else that they'd like to throw in,' I'm good with that, too."

Mayor Witt asked for any other comments.

Mr. Jefferson said, "We can "always add back to it [the list]."

The Council settled on including any candidate with nine or more total points. That is thirteen candidates. (the candidates' applications are available by clicking the down arrow)

Ms. Greene explained that during the last city manager hiring cycle there were "coincidentally 13 candidates at this stage and 5 made it to the interviews."

Mayor Witt thanked Ms. Greene for her hard work.

Epilogue:  Mayor Witt welcomes questions

Late Friday afternoon your reporter had a conversation with Mayor Witt about the city manager hiring process. Mayor Witt said, "I am pleased with the quality of the candidates."

Your reporter asked if the Mayor would be open to accepting questions from the community. Mayor Witt said, "That's a great idea. If anybody in the community would like to suggest questions, I am fine with that. I will present them to the Council Members for their consideration."

The Mayor asked that the questions be emailed to the City Clerk's Office so that they can keep a record. He asked that the words: "City Manager Questions" be in the subject line.

Mayor Witt asked that the questions be kept short, "less than 50 words." He added, "If anyone would like to include an explanation why they feel their question is important, a short statement would be welcome."

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