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Manager Search Should Be More Transparent

I called two council members besides the one who never called me back, and these two knew nothing of the selection process as outlined by the mayor to me.

Dear Reader:

In previous columns I have suggested a way to help the City find a new City Manager. You can view these articles, but basically I had said to them before I left that they should seek to appoint a group of professional City Managers from around the area to select three candidates for the Mayor and Council to consider. This might be similar to what some churches do in finding a new Pastor.

First though, they must legally post the job on the bulletin board. This has not been done. I began several weeks ago trying to find out when this was to be done.

I called a Council member twice but no return phone call. Then I asked Interim City Manager Brad Hulsey about this and he said to call the City Clerk. I called twice last week but again no return phone calls.

Then I called another person who might know and there was some hesitation and clearly that person did not want to get into it. Finally I called the Mayor and she said this:

Currently they are working on the budget. There is no Finance Director on board and . Mr. Hulsey is doing the best he can in preparing the budget right now.

She pointed out that it would be a waste to look for a City Mgr right now because a possible Manager would also be working on his/her budget for another City. Therefore they would get over the Finance Director hump and once on board then post and advertise or whatever method for a City Manager.

First I think that this whole matter reeks of secrecy. I called two council members beside the one who never called me back, and these two knew nothing of this selection process as outlined by the Mayor to me. So why has the Mayor, who evidently is the only person to know about this plan, never told the council members? 

Surely this issue rises to a top issue and all should have an idea of what is going on. Why should they learn about this from me?

Next, while I can see some reasoning behind what the Mayor wants to do she should have cleared it through the Council in open session. Next, there is no reason for anyone at City Hall to believe that they should clam up about such an issue.

Secondly: Why not at least post the job and then get working with the Georgia Municipal League (GMA) on finding the selection committee City Managers and line them up. There is no possibility of finding a new Manager for at least four months or even longer. The budget is voted on in June and then its over for this year. I would think that all would like these top positions to be filled ASAP.

I think it unfortunate when any government has folks wondering about what is going on and finds it hard to find answers. I believe everyone is better than that.

Open Meetings/Open Records Update
Thanks to the efforts of Attorney General (AG) Sam Olens the Legislature approved some sweeping changes to these important laws that I have written about previously.

Open Meetings: Raises the fine for violating the Open Meeting law from $100 to $1,000 for the first violation. Then for subsequent violations, $2,500!

I suspect that after the Governor signs this law that will put an end to these violations state wide. However, vigilance is still needed because the AG cannot go poking around in every City, County and School Board across the state.

Open Records: Reduces the amount that a unit of government can charge for copies of requested documents from .25 cents to .10 cents.

This will greatly improve access to records for the citizens and the media. Some governments have used this as way to stop citizens gaining access to documents and even routine papers that they hand out to Council members at meetings and should anyway be made available to the public at that time for free. They always have plenty of paper items I can assure you.

I hope that you have read on the proposed one percent sales tax increase question that will come before you July 31.

This is very important and extends beyond the sales tax issue. I am busy putting together these articles for you so that you can make a reasoned decision come July 31.

Thanks for reading,

Tom Bevirt

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

D'Wayne Beavers April 10, 2012 at 06:15 PM
It's Mr. Bevirt, Dwayne. What is it will the Tom haters that they can not seem spell his name correctly. Wayne Wright was indeed a class act. And he's smart enough to know when to move on. If social media was around at the time, I wonder what speculation would have surfaced on why he left. Speaking of class act's, remember this name moving forward; Rick Eckert. Of all previous City Managers, Mr. Eckert is in the same category as Mr. Wright. Eckert possessed all of the skills and professionalism required and did an outstanding job during his tenure. In the end, he became feed up with the meddling. We are disappointed to see him go. He was great to work with. There is no need to advertise for a new city manager. Mr. Hulsey will be offered the job. He's liked by many employee, has history here and doggone-it, Mayor and council like him. As one of those who "spoke" with Ol' Pete, (sorry Pete, need to call you out for "meddling, too), he is pretty much on target when explaining the support Mr. Hulsey has within the city, but he should know better than to accuse Mr. Bevirt of being just a taker. And Mr. Bevirt, as far as "messing with the city", I for one hope you continue to ask questions and demand answers. It's your right.
Dwayne April 11, 2012 at 03:43 AM
Sorry, Mr.Bevirt, and pardon me D'wayne, but are you making fun of MY name? You know, 'ol Pete makes a good point there. What kind of a person finagles a retirement increase out of his employer on his way out the door, and then trashes the management that helped him get it. What a guy!
D'Wayne Beavers April 11, 2012 at 03:21 PM
Dwayne, don't make it appear like Mr. Bevirt single-handedly manipulated the retirement increase all by himself. I will concur that Bevirt pushed for the increase. He even had the audacity to make the motion to approve it which gives the appearance that he wanted "his" so to speak. But in the end, most everyone of our city officials participated and pushed for it, save the Ward 3 representative and I think that is a damn disgrace.
Vorant1 April 11, 2012 at 09:00 PM
This issues problem plus others that I see on the horizon are largely due to a complete and utter lack of transparency in government which leads to mistrust, be it with city, state or federal government. I guess the powers- that-be "feel" their actions will be interpreted (rightly so) as reeking of cronyism, incompetence, and sometimes out right corruption, hence the pervasive need for secrecy, so if anything, politicians bring this mistrust upon themselves. If the mayor and council want Mr. Hulsey as permanent city manager then just do it and let the chips fall where they may and let "professional standards be damned". I do see a slight glimmer of hope with Mr. Wizner but only time will tell if what he says and his actions match. Lip service to transparency will win NO allies in my book. Also who better to bring these types of issues to light than a former "in the know" city councilman who no longer needs to abide (hindered) by rules governing (sic) elected officials. I say bravo Mr. Bevirt and keep shaking those cages....
From the desk of Mr. K. Kringle. April 22, 2012 at 02:10 AM
Oh Ol Pete. Christmas is just around the corner. Ask Santa for a clue.

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