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LC City Manager Search: Flying by the Seat of Its Pants – New Requirements Could Be Problematic

Photo of Lloyd Austin III with a caption explaing that to some in Lake City, he would not be qualified to be City Manager
Photo: US Government | Columbia County Observer graphic

widget-city-manager-storiesLAKE CITY, FL – The Lake City City Manager search continued last night with the City Council further away from hiring a City Manager. With the Council minus one council member and apparent new hiring ground rules, more 2-2 deadlocks may be on the way. That is, if the City finds anyone to apply.


On April 18, during the evening's City Council meeting, Councilman Todd Sampson recommended the Council reach back out to the City's second pick, former Colonel Glen Adams, and inquire if he was still interested in serving as Lake City's City manager.

Mr. Sampson said the nine-month search has gone on too long. "It's harming our ability to attract the top candidates."

There was discussion during the meeting with three take-a-ways: Councilman Jefferson thought Councilman Sampson’s $160k proposed salary was too high; a city manager candidate must have city manager experience; Councilman Hill’s requirement that the next city manager “look like me.” Mr. Hill is black.

According to a Renee Narloch email dated April 21, 2022, she reached out to Mr. Adams. This is where it gets fuzzy, and the confusion begins.

Ms. Narloch claimed, among other things, that Mr. Adams would consider a $150,000 salary.

According to Mr. Adams, this was not true. This morning, Mr. Adams said, "I never said once that I wanted $150k."

Mr. Adams told Ms. Narloch that he would agree to come to Lake City on an interim basis (six months) for $70k ($140k annualized). There were other requirements. These terms were included in the email.

Other than housing and a car allowance Mr. Adams was requesting no other benefits, a substaintial savings to the City.

The $140,000 was a yearly salary on which the City agreed while candidate Thomas Thomas was still considering the position. Ultimately, Mr. Thomas withdrew from Lake City to take the city manager job in Compton, California, earning $221,000.

Last Night in City Hall (April 26, 2022)

Former City Councilman Glenel Bowden adddresses the Council
Former City Councilman Glenel Bowden addresses the Council last night.

Former City Councilman Glenel Bowden was first to speak.

Mr. Bowden said the City is where it is because of the “decisions the City Council made.”

Mr. Bowden recommended that if the city manager's salary was $160k, everyone should know that.

Mr. Bowden said the city manager should have city manager experience: “You weren’t talkin’ about experience in the navy or in the air force or in Vietnam. You were talkin’ about city manager type of experience, and now all of a sudden, that experience is not an issue...you just want somebody.”

Mr. Bowden said, “Let me talk about the candidate [Glen Adams] that is being considered… I can’t see the benefit of someone coming here with a contract for six months with the interim and generating the kind of respect and leadership that he or she would need to conduct business… We could do that with a city manager.”

Sylvester Warren III addresses the Council
Sylvester Warren III addresses the Council last night.

Community Activist Sylvester Warren addressed the Council:  “I'm very disappointed that we would even entertain a guy that was very arrogant to us…I echo the same concerns that Mr. Bowden made, 'it's the lack of experience.'”

Mr. Warren said the problem was with the City Council. “We should’ve said we want somebody to have at least two to five years worth of city manager experience on their resume.”

Mr. Warren opined that Mr. Adams was not a city manager, but a city manager in training.

He continued, “We do not want to put Lake City in the hands of an infant as a city manager.”

Resident Jerry Leszkiewicz thought three Council members should resign
Resident Jerry Leszkiewicz thought three Council members should resign.

Resident Jerry Leszkiewicz addressed the the four Council members: "You are the problem the City is facing. All three of you who are here now…The three of you do not possess the competence, the aptitude, or the capability to perform your duties, and you don't belong where you are sitting right now."

It was not clear which one of the four council members Mr. Leszkiewicz left out.

Mayor Witt

Mayor Witt introduced the item and said the Council had received the "emails from Renee (Narloch the headhunter). Mr. Adams, at this time, is not asking to be permanent. He's askin' to be the interim for six months at the salary of $70k and a housing allowance.”

Mayor Witt asked for comments.

Councilman Eugene Jefferson
Long time Councilman Eugene Jefferson (file)

Councilman Jefferson asked, “You’re sayin’ he’s not askin’ to be permanent?

Mayor Witt responded, “He's sayin' he might work into permanent, but right now, just to be the interim, with the possibility of bein' permanent is the way I read it.”

Councilman Jefferson followed up, “I’m not interested in another interim. I’m interested in a full-time manager. That’s what we need… We need to select a permanent city manager and be done with it.”

Councilman Jake Hill
Councilman Jake Hill                    (file photo)

Councilman Jake Hill agreed with Councilman Jefferson: “We already have a interim city manager and he’s doin’ the job for way less than what this guy’s askin’. If we’re gonna offer this job, we need somebody that’s gonna come in permanent…not for $160k with little to no experience at all.”

Councilman Sampson weighed in: “I think it is time for a full-time city manager… Mr. Adams offered six months to show that he could do the job and work [up] to $160…If we're not going to do it this way, then we need to start the search over with a different headhunter altogether… I think we should give Mr. Adams the shot and see if the six months can turn into full time.”

Councilman Hill mentioned other candidates weren’t asking for $160k. “We had a candidate that was well qualified, but the skin color was wrong…this is why this council is the laughing stock – to entertain somebody with less than two years experience for this kind of money.”

City Councilman Todd Sampson (file photo)Mr. Sampson made a motion to hire Mr. Adams on an interim basis for six months at an annualized salary of $140k ($70k for six months).

Mayor Witt seconded the motion.

Councilman Hill said, "Here we go again. This guy has no experience, and the City's gonna pay him this money for lack of experience. I won't support it."

Mayor Witt said he was willing to start at $140k and prove himself.

Once again, Sylvester Warren spoke out from the audience, this time with comments directed to Mr. Jefferson.

Lake City Mayor Steve Witt
Mayor Steve Witt (file)

While Mayor Witt has complained about speaking out without being recognized, Mr. Warren has received a ‘speak out whenever you want’ free pass from the Mayor.

Councilman Jefferson said, “My concern is experience versus salary. I’m sure he values his experience, but that experience has not been proven to us.”

Councilman Jefferson said Mr. Adams could prove himself “to us at a lower salary.”

Mayor Witt asked, “What do you have in mind?”

Councilman Jefferson said the Council could consider a lower salary.

Mayor Witt said that is what Mr. Adams was doing.

Councilman Jefferson said, “I was under the impression that he was coming for 160.”

Mayor Witt corrected Mr. Jefferson, “No, it’s $140k.”

Councilman Jefferson replied if you add the housing allowance, the salary comes out to $160.

Mayor Witt asked for the Clerk to call the roll. The vote was 2-2, with Mr. Sampson and the Mayor in favor of a six-month interim contract for Mr. Adams and Mr. Hill and Mr. Jefferson against.

Once again, community activist Sylvester spoke out from the audience, "Thank God."

And once again, Mayor Witt ignored it.

Mr. Sampson made a motion to terminate the contract of headhunter Renee Narloch.

The Mayor asked if there was a second.

The motion died for lack of a second.

Mr. Sampson asked if Ms. Narloch had provided any new candidates. “Is she doing anything?”

General Lloyd Austin
Four Star General Retired Lloyd Austin III

The Mayor said this would be discussed at the next Council meeting [this coming Monday].


As your reporter was walking to his car after the meeting, he asked Mr. Bowden and community activist Warren if America's Secretary of Defense, former General Lloyd Austin, would be eligible to serve as Lake City's city manager as he was never a city manager and didn't have the experience.

Neither Mr. Bowden nor Mr. Warren answered.

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