Daily Bread for 9.7.22: Whitewater’s Hiring Process for a City Manager

Good morning.

Wednesday in Whitewater will be mostly sunny with high of 80. Sunrise is 6:27 AM and sunset 7:18 PM for 12h 51m 02s of daytime.  The moon is a waxing gibbous with 88.4% of its visible disk illuminated.

 During the Revolutionary War on this day in 1778, France successfully invades Dominica in the British West Indies before British Caribbean authorities are even aware of France’s involvement in the war.

 Whitewater’s city manager left his position in mid-August. The City of Whitewater has contracted with GovHR USA to find a new city manager, and in the meantime hired an interim city manager through GovTemps USA (a subsidiary of GovHR USA). The city’s human resources director, Judy Atkinson, described the hiring process in brief remarks to the Whitewater Common Council (embedded above) with a written description of the process in the evening’s council packet (embedded below). 

Download (PDF, 2.54MB)

What to say as this process begins?

There is no portion of the process, that one can easily see from the video remarks or the written document, that provides for a community forum for the final candidates. The law does not require a forum of this kind; open-government principles call for one. 

Perhaps I’m missing that portion of the packet; my apologies if that’s the case. One needs to be clear: if the requirements include hiring a “City Manager [who] is Whitewater’s chief executive officer in charge of the city’s day-to-day operations and budgets of approximately $24 million” then this city government owes its residents a community forum with final candidates before a hiring decision. 

I’m truly puzzled — isn’t this obvious? Whitewater requires a limited and responsible government, and to be responsible to the city’s residents, this government must be forthcoming. 

With so many needs, and so many problems, this is an unexpected and unwelcome misstep. It’s hard to understand how the hiring firm and the city’s human resources manager might have overlooked the crucial open-government requirement of a dedicated and plainly specified community forum.  

If a community forum with the final candidates doesn’t happen, then it’s not possible to support this process or its result. 

Of all the candidates in the initial round, another point is worth making. The City of Whitewater has hired a firm, and pledged to a process, that will produce several qualified candidates for the consideration of the Whitewater Common Council. That process must assure that each of these candidates is capable, and that each receives fair and equal consideration. 

While the interim city manager has expressed an interest in a permanent position (in both a news feature story and during the 9.6.22 council session), he should not (and must not) receive preferential consideration. This city government has not promised, and is not paying a consultant, for a temp-to-hire process. 

While it may be true, as this interim manager told a reporter, that most city managers remain in a position for less than five years, that’s not what Whitewater needs or deserves.

Whitewater is not a day job, a line on a résumé, or a stop along the way.

Deeply and truly: Whitewater is the work — and the adventure — of a lifetime.  

 See James Webb Space Telescope’s view of Tarantula Nebula in stunning 4K:

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6 months ago

The document doesn’t say anything about a community forum. It does say that they want a “people person” however:
“Be a “people person,” sincerely personable, patient, calm and accessible. Have a sense of humor.”
Then there’s this:
“Be an articulate, effective and transparent communicator, both orally and in writing.”
“Be someone who is comfortable listening to and talking with a wide spectrum of people”
So “people person” doesn’t mean ordinary people until you get the job and everyone finds out afterward!!!

6 months ago

Valid points that certainly could have had better articulation/clarification in both print material and in the meeting.

A Town Squire
6 months ago

Good eye spotting this.
Community forum is a MUST HAVE.Nice work.