Thursday, December 17, 2009

New city manager to be announced soon

Colin Baenziger, Recruiter

Colin Baenziger, Recruiter

If Colin Baenziger, the recruiter hired to find a new city manager had his way he’d let it be known now who city council picked behind closed doors on Friday. Baenziger lives in Florida where “everything is done in the open.” But in Roanoke the contract with council’s pick is “in process.”

In an email Monday he said that although Florida is completely transparent, which is a good thing for Florida residents, “the candidate pool tends not to be as good when people know their names will be out there.” He said he’s had some tough cities to recruit city managers for but thatRoanoke was not one of them.

Baenziger had several candidates float to the top as far back as mid-October. One was a young lady from the Midwest and another was a younger man from Florida. At that time he said that while there were some prospects locally, being from Virginia was not conditional for selection.

“Sometimes it’s a good thing to push people out of their comfort zone,” said Baenziger.

Besides the $21,750 Baenziger is charging the city for his services, Roanoke taxpayers will be paying the new city manager’s moving expenses. If the new manager stays less than a year Baenziger will perform another search for free. If the manager leaves in the second year then he would charge for his expenses only.

Councilman Court Rosen said he’d like to see a business executive to run the city versus an experienced city manager for Roanoke. It remains to be seen which way council has leaned.

If Councilman Rupert Cutler’s claim that an overlap of a week with old and new city manager holds true it could be sticky.

In the opinion of Carol Jacobs, Manager for the City of Stanton, California any overlap with a departing city manager under involuntary circumstances would be unusual. “I have worked in these kind of situations and it is very awkward,” said Jacobs.

She explains that the new city manager needs to be able to establish themselves without the judgments and perceptions of the prior city manager – particularly if the exit of the city manager was not voluntary. “If someone is smart enough to be a city manager, they are smart enough to figure out the politics of the city fairly quickly,” said Jacobs.

Baenziger agreed saying that he had placed someone in a similar situation. Though it was not an involuntary exit of the city manager it almost resulted in the new city manager resigning before his first week was up. Once it was made clear that the exiting manager was no longer needed the new city manager was able to establish his own identity.

When asked prior to the applications being closed if he thought any of Roanoke’s challenges would be detrimental to finding a suitable city manager? Baenziger responded saying, “City managers are inherently masochists … they think they can fix anything.”

Posted By Valerie Garner

Categories: Politics, Roanoke City Politics

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