Second councilor also would like names of candidates

Rockland councilor criticizes lack of choice in manager search

By Stephen Betts | May 18, 2017

Rockland — On the eve of the name of the finalist for the Rockland city manager job being released to the public, one councilor is voicing sharp criticism of the lack of choice being offered.

Councilor Valli Geiger said Thursday the council and public had expected that there would be multiple names presented, rather than just one.

She also criticized the failure of the council to get a list of applicants, including the three other candidates who were interviewed by the search committee.

"This is unacceptable to me," Geiger said.

Councilor Ed Glaser said he, too, would like to have a choice. He also said he would like to have the names of those who applied.

Glaser praised the work of the search committee, saying it has been exemplary and thorough.

Geiger, too, said she was not criticizing the committee members, but the outcome.

"They are a group of volunteers who worked diligently to do what they thought best. I disagree with the outcome, but I genuinely believe they were doing what they thought best," Geiger said. "This is not a criticism of the person they brought forward. This is a criticism of the difficulties that occur when the publicly stated process is not followed."

Mayor Will Clayton said Wednesday he expects to release the name of the finalist Friday. The candidate is man from out of state with ties to Maine. He had earlier said the council will then set up an interview with the finalist, as well as introducing the person to the department heads and citizens of Rockland.

"Understanding that this process takes time, we are hopeful to expedite it as quickly as we can. The search committee needs to be recognized and commended for what they have achieved and in the manner they did it in," the mayor said Monday.

The manager search committee unanimously recommended the one candidate. There were 28 applicants, with five offered interviews. One withdrew after being offered a job elsewhere.

Geiger said she asked to see the names of the candidates, but was told she could not get them. The committee agreed to release the names if the council as a group made the request, but not at the request of individual members.

There are four councilors, and a 2-2 split would mean a rejection of any such request.

"We're being boxed in to accept one candidate," Geiger said.

She said she did not want to be the "sand in the lotion," but that the public also expected that there would be multiple candidates presented to the community.

Geiger said the committee process was great until the end.

The committee consists of Councilor Adam Ackor, Fire Chief Christopher Whytock, finance department member Wanda Harvey, personnel board members Patricia Moran Wotton and Chelsea Avirett, and citizens Stephen Carroll and Constance Hayes. Carroll is running for the City Council.

Whytock said a lot of hard work went into the search and he was very proud of the committee's accomplishments.

Moran Wotton said she highly respects both the committee and the process. She said what the committee has released was based on advice of Maine Municipal Association.

"And my biggest hope is that the process continues in a positive direction," Moran Wotton said.

Avirett declined to comment on why only one candidate was forwarded to the council, referring questions to Clayton.

Carroll referred questions to Avirett.

The council created the committee in December, instructing it to screen and recommend candidates. The committee set a deadline for April 3 for applications to be submitted.

The interviews were held May 2 and 4.

Assistant City Manager/Community Development Director Audra Caler Bell has served as interim manager since James Chaousis resigned in June.

Chaousis served for 16 months, from May 2015 through June 2016. He succeeded James Smith, who was manager from April 2012 through December 2013. Finance Director Tom Luttrell served as interim manager from when Smith left until Chaousis was hired.

Comments (19)
Posted by: Maggie Trout | May 20, 2017 11:06

Has the search committee reviewed the organizational chart developed by Chaousis.  Has the Council reviewed and approved it.  Has the search committee and Council reviewed, and or seen to. the rewriting of the job description, and duties, which Chaousis  had to write because none existed. 



Posted by: David E Myslabodski | May 20, 2017 02:07

Questions to the candidate:


1]  On April of last year you state making $130,500. Why come to Rockland and make less money?


2] If you were running a successful consulting business, why search for a managers job?


3] How many job applications have you sent out during the last 24 months?


Question to council:


1]  Would you contact all the towns he unsuccessfully applied and find out why we was rejected?


2] Where is the candidate's Maine connection?

Posted by: Maggie Trout | May 19, 2017 17:51

City Managers/Administrators average 3 years' tenure - everywhere.  Plan that way from the start, in every aspect.  Salary, salary increases, plans and policy promoted by any City Manager - all of it.  Plan that whoever is chosen will last a maximum of three years.  Anyone who goes on about them not staying in Rockland, specifically, might consider putting a quarter into a jar for every time they do it, to break the habit.  The internet is a curse regarding people, but folk can use the internet to learn what happens elsewhere regarding City Managers and City Hall dealings. 


Here is an example of a current search in Austin, TX  And one of the other jobs Philbrick applied for and did not get, saw the chosen candidate deep in the muck of a landfill recycling problem within the year.  That's the way it goes.  I think there needs to be a different system.  But again - City Managers/Administrators do not stay long, with rare exceptions.  PS I haven't read any comment that suggests restarting the process.

Posted by: Joe Patten | May 19, 2017 17:50

Well said, Amy. I'm dismayed that Councilor Geiger decided to not let the agreed upon process work out as intended.

Posted by: Amy Files | May 19, 2017 14:06

Unless I misheard -- from the very beginning of the process my understanding was that the Search Committee was going to recommend only 2, maybe 3 candidates. And wanting more candidates to choose from has been a desire from one or two councilors but it has sounded like mainly because they want more control of the process and didn't like the idea of trusting a resident committee.

If the whole committee was able to agree on one candidate --  unanimously -- that speaks volumes.

The opinions of this diverse committee are much more likely to represent a candidate that can be agreed by the public, than one or two councilors (who are unlikely to agree even with each other).

I would much rather trust their process than upturn the results and start all over again.

Let us at least find out who the recommendation is and have the public vet them.

The whole point of having a committee process was that Council has not been successful in hiring a manager in the past and that Councilors are not transparent in their process -- having conversations behind closed doors in executive meetings.

The public is tired of this and council infighting and bickering -- why should any one councilor be turning over the process?

And let's be honest -- both councilors likely have their own personal preferences and want to see their own preferred candidate on the list... that is not good justification to throw away the many many hours a larger, more diverse committee has put in to this. And we have to assume that they've already considered those councilors preferences and not found them worthy.

Throwing away the committees decision and not allowing it to stand is both going to be damaging to the process and further damaging to our City's reputation for disfunction.



Posted by: Valerie Wass | May 19, 2017 12:51

The Search Committee's job is just as it states, "SEARCH COMMITTEE".  They are volunteer's who SEARCH for candidates.  They have no authority to weed the candidates out and choose the best one.  If this proceeds to go through, all He double L will break lose!  The City Attorney needs to stop this now along with the Councilors  (ALL OF THEM).  If not, Rockland will be in an uproar, I don't blame us!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: Maggie Trout | May 19, 2017 12:50

It would be madness to release the name of what consensus gives as a sole viable candidate.  The Council has not met the candidate, nor have they held their interview.  There is no information provided regarding the date of the interview, nor date of the vote.  The article should not have been printed without this information, and, at this point, the best recourse, as I see it, is to leave the mud-wrestling to mud-wrestling; every bit of information whether printed in media, or circulating privately, is hearsay without documentation and without a public interest attorney to pursue any outright legal breach in process.  The new City Manager will have duties to perform.  That's the bottom line.  Councils and Select Boards country-side get stuck in the toilet in these and other matters.  One hopes they won't, but that seems to be more the rule than the exception.  So - bottom line - the new City Manager will either perform duties as specified, or he or she won't. 

Posted by: Kendall Merriam | May 19, 2017 10:42

Here we go again, another city government kerfuffle...and they want a raise, too? So sad for Rockland.

Posted by: Maggie Trout | May 19, 2017 10:39

The drama is in the article, and now stories from sources close to the search, and/or City Hall, are circulating like a tornado. "Mayor Will Clayton said Wednesday he expects to release the name of the finalist on Friday."  The release of "the" name will carry the weight of finalization.  No mention of when Council would vote after this announcement is made.   Stories from sources close to the search are circulating.   At this point, I don't believe anyone is telling the truth, let alone having the professionalism - or even the maturity - no, more than that - the objectivity - to mitigate it.

Posted by: Francis Mazzeo, Jr. | May 19, 2017 09:40

What's this fella's ties to Maine? Wait.....don't tell me... he shops online at L L Bean.

Posted by: Joe Patten | May 19, 2017 08:27

Why are people assuming that the Council will rubber stamp the Committees selection? Can't they reject it, ask for more names from the list? Maybe come councilor's favorite was not on the list? Suggest wait till new councilor elected in 25 days; let the 2 candidates sit in on the interview with the candidate.

Posted by: Valli Genevieve Geiger | May 19, 2017 08:00

Steve, I can't say I like your title. I am unhappy to put it mildly with the lack of choice, and do feel the Search Committee overstepped their bounds, but they are good and thoughtful people. They carried out their obligations with great thoroughness. The problem came at the 11th hour and that is what I find interesting. Who and what was said, that allowed this canoe to veer off in the direction of choosing the person they wanted to be city manager, rather than the 2-3 candidates who were qualified.

Valli Geiger

Posted by: Joe Patten | May 19, 2017 07:29

Please, less paranoia and fear mongering. The Search Committee was charged with the task of finding the best candidate and have narrowed their search to the obvious choice. Had there been another one or two equal candidates their names would be put forth. I interpret this that there was one candidate that stood above all the rest. I'm sure the Councillors not on the search committee had a favorite candidate or two and are distressed not to hear their names. The Council can reject the proposed candidate and/or ask for more names to be put forth. Remember when the Council acted as the search committee and the resultant hires and you want to go back to that? The Council set up this independent search committee, they've done the work you've asked them to do, stop the second guessing and wait until you've seen their presentation. The manager will be responsible to the search committee - ludicrous.

Posted by: Kathryn Fogg | May 19, 2017 01:33

I agree with Valli on this one.  Why would the 5 finalist names not be given to the Council?  They are the ones who will have to work most closely with the manager,  Thank you very much for the work you have done, Search Committee.  Thank you for choosing one for your highest recommendation.  But no thank you for believing the decision is up to you.  Sounds like we could be headed for another disaster.  Let the wisdom of the Council review the Search Committee's work and make a decision themselves.



Posted by: David E Myslabodski | May 19, 2017 00:00

Blah, blah, blah, blah blah . . . .

So who is The Puppet-Master in Rockland ME?


Council has been using Code and Charter as their Personal Toilet Paper for quite sometime and now the Manger Search Committee is upping the council by pretty much spitting on the councilors faces and telling them "And what are you going to do now?"


BTW,  one single councilor can stop the baloney. All he/she has to do is engage the City Attorney and stop this nonsense.


One more time, the stench in Rockland is not coming from the dump . . .

Posted by: Maggie Trout | May 18, 2017 23:00

The chosen City Manager will be viewed as the pawn of members of the Search Committee, and any members of Council who did not stop the process now.  Any candidate walking into this would want to rethink accepting the position.  This is a usurping of the City Charter and of Council duties and process.

Posted by: Carol W Bachofner | May 18, 2017 22:47

By putting forth only one name, the search committee de facto is the decsion maker. Search committees do not have voting powers or hiring powers. The committee messed up in not putting forth an actual choice.

Posted by: Ronald Huber | May 18, 2017 22:42

C'mon Stephen you got the names out last time...what gives?

Pair of Rockland manager finalists have varied experience

By Stephen Betts, BDN Staff

Posted Dec. 24, 2014, at 1:31 p.m.

ROCKLAND, Maine — The two finalists for the city manager job have a variety of experience in municipal government.

The Bangor Daily News contacted the pair Tuesday. The search committee — consisting of the five city councilors and former councilor Dr. Eric Hebert — has not released the names to the public but sources have identified the two finalists.

Boothbay Town Manager James Chaousis II; and Jeffrey Kobrock, the executive director of the Midcoast Economic Development District are the finalists, according to the sources.

Posted by: Maggie Trout | May 18, 2017 22:35

The Council must immediately stop the process.  Council, not the Search Committee, nor MMA, hires the City Manager.  I can't believe that no one but Councilor Geiger was prepared to voice an objection.  Thechosen applicant - and, indeed, he or she is already chosen, without Council vote, must surely be considering withdrawing given the blatant lack of procedure.. If this proceeds, it is not only a procedural breach, but it looks to be an ethical breach as well.  Ackor had access to all candidate information; Carroll had access; it looks like Clayton already knows who was chosen and that any Council vote will be false.   There is already Ackor, who, presumably, would vote for the sole candidate - so that's one out of four - then Clayton - so two out of four.  Starting this off with it looking like a setup is the worst thing that could have happened.  This looks to be a direct violation of the City Charter and might be actionable.  All Councilors should have reviewed at least the five finalists' applications.  Very, very bad.



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