Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Lake City

City Manager Search, Next Up The Interviews – Will the Semifinal 5 Begin With a Clean Slate?

The Semifinal 5
City Applications

LAKE CITY, FL – Wednesday morning beginning at 9:30 am the City Council will be interviewing the five semifinalists who wish to be the next City Manger. The process began with a bumpy start in February, City Manager Search Halted, Job Posting Withdrawn, Council Regroups...; then gained an even keel and faltered again in April, after Councilman Jefferson wasn't prepared with his candidate rankings, City Manager Search Stalls - Starts. City Council in Disarray. Emerg Mtng Called. Things were smooth again until City Attorney Fred Koberlein's suggestion that the scheduled interview times, might not be the actual times.

Last minutes withdrawals skewed the scores after Mr. Irby.

Beginning at 9:30 am the five semifinalists vying for the vacated city manager position will be interviewed.

The schedule developed by the City's HR Director, Michele Greene, gave each applicant 1hr 15minutes to complete the interview, followed by 15 minutes of discussion by the City Council members. It is not clear how the individual order was established. It is known that it was not done by a blind drawing.

Fred Koberlein, Jr.

City Attorney Fred Koberlein, Jr., who advertises himself as an expert on municipal law, suggested that the times not be time-certain, but approximate times.

On May 14, 2018, Attorney Koberlein wrote HR Director Green:

"I might suggest an asterisk before or after the schedule explaining to the reader that all beginning and ending times are approximates and subject to be modified by the City Council.  Hopefully, that might advise a reader that the CC may extend the interview time as needed or break earlier than scheduled as needed."

On May 30, 2018, HR Director Greene, after contacting all the candidates, published her schedule. There were no asterisks or extended explanations: the times were the times.
(Click image to enlarge)

On May 31 the City Clerk's Office sent an advertisement to the mainstream media newspaper of record. The ad did not mention that interview times were uncertain.

On June 1 the City Clerk's Office distributed the agenda for Wednesday's June 6 City Manager interviews.

Highlighted in the agenda: "All beginning and ending times are approximates and subject to be modified by the City Council."

In plain English: all times are subject to change.

The only local candidate is David Kraus, who has a Lake City address. The other candidates are traveling distances to Lake City.

At an earlier Council meeting, Councilman Ward said that if the candidates want the job they will be here.

No one that the Observer has spoken with believes that the "moving target time frame" of Attorney Koberlein and the City Clerk's Office are fair or make sense, except for the City Clerk's Office and Attorney Koberlein.

Councilman Hill

Of the people with whom the Observer spoke, no one wanted to go on the record other than City Councilman Jake Hill and Community Activist Sylvester Warren.

However, the condemnation of the "moving target time frame" was universal with comments ranging from: this is ridiculous; how can they do that; folks have to travel to be there; everybody should get the same amount of time to make their presentation; and etc.

Councilman Jake Hill was short and to the point: "That ain't right."

Sylvester Warren

Community Activist Sylvester Warren said, "I know what it's like not to be treated equally. All the candidates need to be treated the same in the same amount of time so that they can be judged equally."

Another Moving Target

The City Council has not yet determined how it is going to determine the final two: will it be based on feelings? Will the final two be judged solely on the interview? Will the scores of the interview and final scores be added together?

That may be decided between 9 and 9:30 am, or it may be determined at another time during the day.

Also unknown at this time is how the selection is made after the final two are selected.


Columbia County/Lake City Florida: the legend continues.

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