Hunt for city manager begins on Marco Island

— The head hunt to replace Marco Island City Manager Steve Thompson begins.

City Council fired Thompson on Monday night citing that he provided incorrect and untimely information to council. Council is to select an interim city manager at a special meeting at 7:30 a.m. Friday.

Councilman Bill Trotter suggested two city department heads as options.

City Councilman Larry Magel is hesitant to select from within City Hall, but said he is still processing the decision.

“You take a group of equals and make one more equal than the others,” Magel said. “There can be some animosity when you go back to being equals.”

Trotter suggested Marco Island Fire Rescue Chief Mike Murphy as the longest serving department head.

City Finance Director Patricia Bliss, who began with the city in March 2009, was Trotter’s second suggestion. Bliss could be of particular assistance in the next three or four months of budgeting and tax-rate setting, he said.

Bliss and Murphy couldn’t be reached to comment on Tuesday.

Former City Councilman John Arceri said the history on Marco Island suggests a danger in selecting an in-house interim city manager.

Before Thompson was hired in May 2008, then parks and recreation director Dana Souza was selected as the interim city manager.

“The person that’s the acting manager builds up a relationship with council and is looked at as a threat by the new manager,” Arceri said. “Dana (Souza) and Steve (Thompson) didn’t hit it off.”

Souza resigned shortly after Thompson was hired.

Magel agreed that Souza, who was once considered for the manager’s position, despite not having the experience or education to fit the job description, would likely not be an appropriate choice for city manager.

He would prefer the interim to be a Marco Island resident, a non-city employee, someone with business experience and perhaps someone who has served on a city board. Magel didn’t offer any particular names as of Tuesday afternoon.

He seeks a person that shares his perspective that council should be informed on all matters of significance, not just policy-making issues, he said.

“Whoever it is needs to be a city manager with a good amount of business experience, not a bureaucratic, government guy,” Arceri said.

Chairman Frank Recker suggested the replacement city manager be recommended by a citizens’ advisory committee, rather than a head-hunting firm.

He, too, supported more of a business perspective than a career government official.

Rick Sinatra, of the Cleveland-based recruiting firm The Lear Group, said his firm could assist in Marco’s search for a new city manager at a price of about $30,000.

Thompson’s severance will cost about $175,000, which Arceri said is nothing compared to the increased liability the city could face if poor decision-making continued.

Sinatra said a citizens’ search committee could be challenging if not kept small in membership.

“If you’re not looking for a $200,000 per year guy, you might find someone more moldable,” said Sinatra, a frequent Marco Island visitor.

Some Islanders say Thompson shouldn’t have gone out the way he did.

“This was just a bomb that dropped,” said former Council Chairman Rob Popoff.

The Marco Island Area Chamber of Commerce did not take a formal stance on whether Marco should retain Thompson, but the Chamber board agreed on Tuesday that council’s approach was not business-like.

“While it may have been within the letter of the law, this shotgun-style approach was not in the spirit of the law,” said Vip Grover, President of the Marco Island Area Chamber of Commerce.

Thompson may request a public hearing to appeal council’s decision by Friday.

“There is a chance,” said Thompson on Tuesday afternoon. “The key issue is whether it seems the vote would change.”

© 2010 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 22

happy6 writes:

oh great idea...the fire chief as the interim city mgr....and the finance director...isn't she the one that can't get the budget info to the auditors so they can finish upo their work and sent us another bill for $18k....trotter you're a genius.
and then...a citizens committee to conduct a search...come on...we've had dozens of "citizens committtees" and they never produce anything that's listened to by anyone.

sailingby writes:

We need professionals managing the City. People with the educational background and experience in public sector management.

The public sector is not the same as the private sector in many significant ways; Major decisions are made only in the sunshine by the City Council; The Clerk's requirements for recording are particular; Noticing meetings is critical; Preparing for the Council meetings is nothing like in the private sector.

An HR manager might be inter-changeable with the private sector. An engineer, administrative assistants and maybe even department managers might be inter-changeable with the private sector.

But the City Manager does not have an equivalent. Maximizing profit is not the goal as it is for private corporations. The entire operation is measured according to different criteria. The significance of hiring a professional City Manager is essential.

Chief Murphy would be the best interim Manager.

dc5799 writes:

I hope Arceri is not trying to position him self with the council. Just remember all the damage that man has done to this city.

August8 writes:

Have not said anything here in some time, but can't help myself mow !!!!!!!!!
This City has just dismissed the best thing they had going for them in a long while, just to flex a little muscle and say "Your Fired". For cripes sake, after all that embarrising mess with Bill Moss,you make it clear, no body can live with you.A true professional and positive influence on this City, Gone, Crazy !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

happy6 writes:

moss hopefully will be brought back to marco in handcuffs...and hooked to rony joel...

surfer1 writes:

A citizen's committee can be controlled by those that want control. If you want narrow choices and minds, that's the way to go. It seems it would be impossible for the city to move forward with anything other than personal agendas if this is how you proceed.

bigdog1970 writes:

Trotter, are you freakin' serious?
Murphy or Bliss.
If your'e trying to make people laugh, why didn't you also include Olmstead and Joel? How about ASSeri?
You should be headlining on stage at Capt. Briens on the weekends!

JoeFubietze writes:

What I want to know is how the heck does Arceri figure into this? Does he call the newspaper or does the newspaper call him? Why does the news consider his viewpoint as if it is some form of authority?

Capt_Buzz writes:

You’ve all been duped – Arceri was one of the main architects’ of this whole thing while Recker and Magel were just willing worker bees. While you all relish in the unnecessary character assassination of Steve Thompson you are falling into the hands of the one you all hate the most. You are all a bunch of blind fools, blinded by the sight of a casualty. Thompsons quote says it all:

“this is a very difficult community by anyone’s standards,” said Thompson. “Council plays to that negativity and it’s difficult to overcome that.”

You are all so driven by hatred and drama! Recker and Magel played to the vocal minority but the victory goes to Arceri. Stay tuned…

ajm3s writes:

The next step is very critical, lobbyists are surrounding the Council. Keep your wits about you.

There is a strong drive on all facets requiring professional experience: private vs public; strong civic leadership, strong business leadership.

Recommendation: if you want a different result you need a different approach. If you take your cues from past leaders you will get results as seen in the past. You need to look to fresh ideas, fresh faces, be bold and bright.

This will be a referendum on breaking away from the grip of the Moss decade. Marco residents if I hear them, are looking for what many Americans are looking for nationally: responsible and responsive government.

This is an opportunity to really breakout and show Southwest Florida how special this place.

August8 writes:

Please--Please !!!!!!!!!!!!

If a very good manager is or must be fired by the City, as big of a mistake as that that is,Please, Fire Chief's should make sure trucks are polished and prepared, personnel are sharp and fit, and then put out real fire's.Besides he is
A bit of a hanger-on and "putz", unfortunately just the facts.

dc5799 writes:

I don't believe Recker would even acknowledge Arceri much less work with him. Remember Dana Souza did a good job while they sought a new manager and as proven he is HONEST and can't be bought.

Marcogap writes:

My name is George Percel. I am sick and tired of the unidentifiable commentators who are so destructive and inflammatory. These incendiary comments are an indication of our community sliding into chaos. Please make your venomous attacks with your names attached. If you dare. The freedom to speak your mind carries obligations with it.

ClearlyStated34145 writes:

Don't know if Dana Souza would come back, but he is the man for the job.

Court1 writes:

in response to dc5799:

I hope Arceri is not trying to position him self with the council. Just remember all the damage that man has done to this city.

Please let's not forget Minozzi another winner!

Fossil writes:

Mr. Percel were you in the room when the member of Celebrate Marco directed a tirade of hate speech towards the so called "cave dwellers" (otherwise known as homeowners)? We residents have lived in chaotic enviornment ever since the STRP was dumped on us. Welcome aboard sir.

islandeyes writes:

It is refreshing to hear a Realtor say something, anything, other than "now is the perfect time to buy or sell". Thank you George.

sailingby writes:

in response to Fossil:

Mr. Percel were you in the room when the member of Celebrate Marco directed a tirade of hate speech towards the so called "cave dwellers" (otherwise known as homeowners)? We residents have lived in chaotic enviornment ever since the STRP was dumped on us. Welcome aboard sir.

I was in the room at the church when one man new to the organization said two words out loud against those who were tearing the Island apart with their incessant vitriol. And he was immediately addressed by those leading the meeting and no further outbursts happened as I am sure your secretly shot video tapes show. I also saw the Anti City group sitting along the aisle trying to hide their video camera. And they tried to disrupt the Celebrate Marco meeting. And here you are years later still attacking the City.

Don't you realize that you are living on bile. The sewer system is a done deal. Haven't you learned any lessons about losing? Sometimes you eat the bear and sometimes the bear eats you.

You have been picking at a wound and not only has it failed to heal, it is festering. You are spoiling paradise. You may not have liked having the septic tank replacement program (I have had to pay for replacing mine too and I am not a rich person), but I know that septic tanks are terrible for our coastal community.

But the extreme bad behavior of a few of you is not about stopping the STRP. It is done deal. You are just misbehaving badly and cannot control yourselves. I've seen kindergartners who behave better.

Fossil writes:

sailingby: It was four (4) words: "They should be shot!". That is hate speech in my book and it was actually applauded by the audience present. If you would like to see and hear the meeting yourself, copy the following and place it in your browser:

marcosandflea writes:

in response to Fossil:

sailingby: It was four (4) words: "They should be shot!". That is hate speech in my book and it was actually applauded by the audience present. If you would like to see and hear the meeting yourself, copy the following and place it in your browser:

Fossil, you should know by now.....RAY BEAUFORT CAN'T COUNT!!

blogsmog writes:

Did sailingby compare us to kindergartners?
I'll respond to that in a minute, right now I GUTTA GO DUTIES and WEE WEE REALLY BAD!

sailingalong writes:

Ray Beufort is a loser and full of hate. He spews his hate on this blog using various user names. The whole Arceri, Lazarus, Marco Mafia crowd has done more to hurt this island than one can imagine.

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