Why didn't the City of Rockland interview Maine Municipal Association to do our manager search?

By Elizabeth Dickerson | Sep 04, 2014

Rockland — I don't know, exactly. But what I do know made me very leery, and this is why I left that executive session meeting. My skin was crawling. I knew something wasn't quite adding up. I left because my gut was screaming at me to leave. I decided it was the best plan to remove myself. I didn't really even understand why at the time. I now understand why.

My seatmate at the legislature emailed me and suggested that we try MMA. She said that her town, Sanford, had good success with their services, and it cost 5,000. I feel that it is important to have some help in this endeavor. I liked chatting with Mr. Dacri, but once I discovered how expensive his conversations were, I decided that perhaps I could forgo same. I asked several times whether we were going to interview MMA.

I contacted MMA today, and spoke with the gentleman who conducts town and city manager searches there. He informed me that this is something MMA does all the time, they were just finishing up three of them, and they had heard Rockland would be looking for a new manager. This individual contacted our mayor, and left a message. Larry did call him back, but potentially just around the time of the executive session in which the decision was made. The MMA employee could not furnish the exact date. The conversation was perfunctory, not one of details and plans moving forward.

The fee for the MMA search is generally 5,000. We did not interview MMA.

Comments (3)
Posted by: Maggie Trout | Sep 05, 2014 19:58

I think how it is termed, makes a difference.  Rockland has a Council-Manager form of government with the emphasis on the Council.  In 2011, Eaton Peabody was hired for the city manager search.  Because MMA's candidate, and Eaton Peabody's candidate did not last, it is the company/organization that is blamed.  Given the "unfavorable results,"   betting $17,000 on more satisfactory results,  when surely Eaton Peabody is held in higher esteem, than it appears does MMA(?),  is a bad gamble.

 

The only answer is for City Councilors to review all submitted applications, bringing in an outside consultant, if that must be done, to assist with the final selection of candidates considered viable.  The City can place ads for free in far-reaching job search engines.



Posted by: Larry Pritchett | Sep 05, 2014 13:12

As I noted in a post on another article, in Rockland's Manager/Council form of municipal government, the leadership and management skills of the City Manager are among the most important factors that determine the ability of the City to provide the services and infrastructure the residents expect and deserve.

In recruiting another City Manager, Dacri Associates brings a broad range of experience in the Utility, Business, Nonprofit arenas in addition to Municipal experience. Dacri's broad background within and outside municipal circles stood out to Council. For folk who say government should learn from the business world, Dacri Associates brings that experience.

In terms of Maine Municipal Association, the City of Rockland has worked recently with MMA in a variety of ways - - on limiting cuts to revenue sharing, on energy policy that impacts municipalities and other issues.

The Manager Search program at MMA was run for many years by Michael Wing, who assisted Rockland in the search process in 2009 when Rosemary Kulow was hired. Dave Barrett was Mr. Wing's assistant and took over when Mr. Wing retired. Mr. Barrett from MMA was interviewed by Council in 2011 to possibly assist with a Manager search then.

This year MMA initially did not respond to requests from Rockland because Mr. Barrett was out of state. But, after some telephone tag, Dave did eventually confirm that a proposal from MMA would be substantively the same as the proposal the City still had from 2011.

Having worked with Wing in 2009, having interviewed Dave Barrett in 2011 and having worked with MMA on other issues, City Council had a lot of information on which to decide whether to bring in MMA for an interview after having heard from the other three firms.



Posted by: Maggie Trout | Sep 04, 2014 21:32

Sent to all City Councilors on August 20, 2014:

“I hope none of the Council, nor any firm, will approach the City Manager search with the idea that an applicant may be using the position as a "stepping stone," as I've heard people say. Please don't approach any search with the idea that an applicant wouldn't be pleased with the position - that they're "over-qualified," or any of that. And, I hope you will use the Maine Municipal Association in the search process. Thank you. M. Trout”



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