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Selection committee seeks guidance

The difference between the power to recommend and the power to decide was at the center of a workshop discussion Tuesday night about hiring a new city manager.

Mike Cox, a former mayor and chairman of the committee to select a city manager, told council members that he wanted guidelines to help the five-member group define its task.

"You formed a committee and gave it no purpose or direction," Cox said.

Mayor James Carter said he didn't like the idea of the committee talking to potential candidates about specifics, however, such as contract negotiations.

"Committee members should avoid committing the city," he said. If applicants have questions, "refer them to the council," Carter said.

Carter, Vice Mayor Patricia Guttman and Ann Lennon were the only council members at the workshop. Cox was joined by committee members Michelle Nichols, Annette Fricchione and James Carroll.

Cox kept trying to get specific answers on certain issues. "What's the time frame?" he asked, referring to the time by which council wanted the committee's recommendation. "As quickly as possible," Carter said.

"How long are you willing to do it for?" said Cox, referring to the suggested length of a potential city manager candidate's contract. "That's open-ended," Lennon said.

"It's a contract," Guttman added. "It's negotiable."

Carter was adamant about the council having the final say on the city manager.

"To relinquish the authority of the council to a committee, I can't do that," he said.

"Did you vote to establish the committee?" Cox countered.

"Yes," Carter said.

"Then, I would ask you to support the committee, instead of cutting it down."

By the beginning of the regular council meeting at 7:30 p.m., Guttman had a list of committee guidelines and made a motion that they be followed in this fashion:

+ Eliminate all resumes but 10.

+ Screen those 10 candidates with background checks.

+ Question each in a 15-minute telephone interview.

+ Finally, present the council with a list of final recommendations.

Guttman's motion passed 3-0.

Former City Manager Max Pope was fired by the council June 11. The city has received 55 resumes from people applying for the job. All but one of the applicants have been men, Cox said. The deadline for resumes is Friday.

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