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LC City Manager Search: Monday Night, a Turing Point for Some, a Dead End for Others

Photo Karmishth Tandel via Unsplash | Columbia County Observer graphic

widget-city-manager-storiesLAKE CITY, FL – After Monday night in City Hall, Lake City is still without a permanent city manager. Unless one believes in miracles, it will not have one anytime soon.


Lake City has been without a permanent city manager since last June. The City’s latest Interim City Manager, Paul Dyal, recently resigned and then decided to stay on.

City Clerk Audrey Sikes
City Clerk Audrey Sikes.    (file photo)

Item number eight on Monday’s City Council agenda was the following: “Discussion and Possible Action - City Manager Position (Presenter: Mayor Stephen Witt)”

Early Monday morning, Councilman Todd Sampson sent an email to City Clerk Audrey Sikes asking her to add to agenda item eight an offer to city manager candidate, Glen Adams, to come to work as Lake City's City Manager.

Ms. Sikes added the item to the agenda at 9:57 am, twenty-five minutes after she received the request, and then sent notice of the change to the media and others.

Monday at the City Council

Lake City Mayor Steve Witt
Mayor Steve Witt (file)

Agenda Item eight was introduced by Mayor Witt: “Ok, the next item is discussion – possible action city manager’s position. I did speak to Ms. Narloch; she’s lookin’ into some people. I think there is a misunderstanding that she has a list of new prospects. She doesn't. She's talkin’ to several that may be available. I think one kinda was but found another job.”

The Mayor gave Councilman Sampson the floor.

Mr. Sampson said, “I agree with what you said about Ms. Narloch. There’s no more applicants as far as I know…She’s normally good about reaching out if there are applicants.”

Mr. Sampson continued, “Since the presentation last Monday by Mr. Hanson, I have been reflecting on several of the points he brought forward.”

City Councilman Todd Sampson (file photo)Mr. Sampson said the nine-month search has gone on too long. "It's harming our ability to attract the top candidates."

“Second, we need to offer salary and benefits commensurate with the scope of the job. That's another point that Mr. Hanson made last week. We need to do what is in the best interests of the City, allowing us to move forward in preparing and implementing a strategic plan.”

He continued, “There has already been a top-flight candidate that has been interviewed twice, including in-person; he's well qualified for the position, and that candidate is Glen Adams.”

City Manager Candidate answers  questions in Lake City
Mr. Adams at his interview in Lake City. (file)

“I would like to make a motion that we offer the City Manager position to Mr. Adams.”

Mr. Sampson read off a list of items to be offered.

Community activist Sylvester Warren spoke out from the audience.

Mayor Witt said, “I’ll let you speak.”

An unidentified person from the audience said, "It's got to be seconded."

Mayor Witt asked, “Is there a second?”

After about a 20-second pause, Mayor Witt said, "We don't have a second,” then there was another long pause.

At this point, there was nothing to discuss. There was “no proposition” before the City Council.

Mayor Witt recognized Mr. Warren.

Mr. Warren, still conversing from the audience, “So we're dead on that issue? It failed for lack of a second. I don't want to speak on it if it's dead, Mayor. There's no need of me…."

Barely discernable, somebody (unidentified) said Mr. Warren could still speak.

Sylvester Warren
Sylvester Warren (file)

Mr. Warren and Mr. Bowden Weigh In

Mr. Warren said, “Ok,” and came to the microphone: “I saw this proposal this morning. I guess a few things that I'm bothered by - first and foremost the salary… There’s nobody - the state attorney doesn't make that kind of money. There's nobody in the whole surrounding County that makes $160,000, from the judges, the state attorney, to the public defender, to the superintendent of schools… there is nobody you can think of for one-sixty.”


Fact-checking Sylvester Warren:

Third Circuit State Attorney John Durrett earns $192,105. The Third Circuit State Attorney employs 59 people and has a budget of $6.532 million.

Third Circuit Public Defender Cliff Wilson earns $192,105. The Public Defender’s Office employs 30 and has a budget of $3.079 million.

Third Circuit Court Judge Leandra Johnson earns $165,509. Judge Johnson’s salary is set to go up on July 1 to $182,060

The Columbia County School Superintendent, who is highly underpaid for the amount of responsibility, students, and employees, earns $124,970. The district has 1,300 employees and an annual budget of $82 million.

However, if the School Board were to appoint the Superintendent, the salary would be set by the school board, rather than the state.

Florida Gateway College President Larry Barrett is the top governmental earner in Columbia County, with an annual salary of $234,000 and a benefits package in the tens of thousands. The FGC budget is approximately $25 mil. with 400 employees.

Mr. Warren told the Council, “I've looked at your books. You can't afford one-sixty… At one-sixty, there's no tellin' who you may get, Mayor. You're gonna bring out some CEOs from a lot of different places.”

Lake City's current budget is $60,625,247. Today, the City employs 220 people. Recently, the City decided that it may have to pay $140k to attract a quality candidtate. The $20k difference to the $160k that Mr. Sampson proposed is .032% [thirty-two hundredths of 1%] of the City budget. Mr. Warren did not explain why the City couldn't find the difference.

Mr. Warren complained about the lack of transparency regarding the agenda item.

The facts are the agenda was prepared last week, and as soon the information became available, the City Clerk notified the public and the press. Mr. Warren is on that list.

Warren: "We can still get a second/third string quarterback"

Mr. Warren continued, “I thank God that we didn't get a second… Keep the process goin'. I think we can still get a good second – third-string quarterback that this Council and the directors can work with and build up.”

Mr. Warren recommended leaving Interim City Manager and Utility Director Paul Dyal in the city manager position and not hiring a city manager until all the seats on the City Council are filled.

That is months away.

Mr. Dyal has made it clear to anybody that will listen, that he does not want to be Interim City Manager.

Former City Councilman Glenel Bowden address the City Council
Glenel Bowden  (file)

Glenel Bowden said he had been to all the city manager interviews. While Ms. Narloch found thirty-six candidates, Mr. Bowden said that only two of the top four were worth considering in the first round of interviews. "The bottom two of em' wasn't even worth bein' considered."

At this point in the meeting, while Glen Adams was no longer up for consideration, Mr. Bowden said that Mr. Adams came from Santa Fe, Texas. “The black population in that town is so small you can't even measure it."

Mr. Bowden added, “Not only do you look at the qualifications, you've got to look at, like, ‘He is a good fit.’ And I would suggest to you, given the interaction I had with him, the interaction some other people had with him, that he is not a good fit for our community.”

Councilman Sampson Asks for Another Head Hunter

Mr. Sampson made a motion that the City terminate its contract with Narloch and "ask for our funds back. I have not seen any other worthwhile candidates. Let's start over and put it out to bid and see if we can get a better head hunter."

Mayor Witt asked if there was a second.

There was none.

Mayor Witt said, “Without a second, we’ll move along and see where we go.”

Mr. Sampson responded, “Same pattern we’ve been in, Mayor.”

Mayor Witt said, “Yup.”

With the Adams Proposal Dead, Councilman Jefferson Came  to Life

Councilman Eugene Jefferson
Long time Councilman Eugene Jefferson (file)

Councilman Jefferson said, “In reference to the proposal that is before us, I don't know whether the applicant or the candidate, Mr. Adams, whether he's asking that salary or we are proposing that salary. A salary of 160,000 coming from Lake City, I think that is a salary he needs to work up to, not to start… I think it's a little bit beyond what I'm willing to commit to.”

Mr. Sampson said that he had not spoken to Mr. Adams, adding, "I'm not sure if he's even interested. I know he didn't get the other job. I looked him up on Linkedin…This is something I've been thinking about.”

Councilman Hill Weighs In
One candidate's skin is the wrong color

Councilman Jake Hill
Councilman Jake Hill                    (file photo)

Councilman Hill: “This whole board agreed that Mr. Rosenthal was the better candidate of the last [group]. Mr. Rosenthal had a better interview than Mr. Adams… the City can't afford him. Mr. Adams can stay in Texas as far as Jake Hill, Jr., is concerned. Mr. Rosenthal is Jake Hill, Jr., choice for the next city manager… This man is qualified to be the next city manager of Lake City. But the thing is, people, Mr. Rosenthal skin is the wrong color.”

Sylvester Warren speaks out from the audience, “Put it in a motion, Jake.”

Mr. Hill responds, “I made the motion, and it died.”

Mr. Warren, again from the audience, “Make it again.”

Mr. Hill said, “If you just throw the color out of it, he is well qualified for this job.”

Mr. Sampson disagreed: “I take exception to it. It's not correct. That's Mr. Hill's perception... We all talked to Mr. Rosenthal and two other candidates, and we did not come to a consensus to have a second interview with one of those three candidates. That's the fact. The fact is we've had candidates from all races and gender, and we haven't found someone to hire yet, which goes back to what I said about Ms. Narloch. 'Bring us a candidate that's worth whatever we can pay to hire them. If 160 is a problem, let's offer something less.’ Mr. Rosenthal may be fine. He was the best of those three, but none of those three were qualified.”

Mayor Witt closed out the City Manager portion of the agenda, “Apparently, we are not going to agree tonight.”

The Council moved along with the agenda.


After the meeting, your reporter reached out to Tina Roberts, a lifelong well known resident of Lake City. Ms. Roberts said she was out of town, but was able to view the meeting on Youtube.

Ms. Roberts voiced the opinion of many. She said, “I feel that this was a turning point. I’ve never been so disappointed in Councilman Jefferson or Mayor Witt.”

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