POLL Marco Island’s interim manager Jim Riviere may stay on

Jim Riviere, 68, went from being chairman of the Marco Island Planning Board to leading the city as the new interim city manager.

Photo by KELLY FARRELL, Staff

Jim Riviere, 68, went from being chairman of the Marco Island Planning Board to leading the city as the new interim city manager.

Frank Recker

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Frank Recker

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— Marco Island City Council is looking to remove the word interim from Jim Riviere’s title — making him simply city manager.

Riviere, the former Planning Board chairman, was appointed by council as interim manager following the dismissal of then-City Manager Steve Thompson in April.

“In the past three months, Jim (Riviere) has accomplished a lot,” Chairman Frank Recker said.

That includes a leaner managerial staff by eliminating five top positions.

“He (Riviere) has demonstrated managerial skills with the ability to work well with staff while making tough decisions,” Recker said.

Initially, Riviere said he wouldn’t stay past the budget process this fall. He didn’t respond Wednesday to requests from the Daily News for comment.

However, at a council meeting earlier in July, Riviere said he’d reconsider.

“I’m not Calvin Coolidge,” he responded in his common short-on-words style.

He referred to Coolidge’s famous quote: “If nominated, I will not run. If elected, I will not serve.”

Riviere didn’t say why he changed his mind.

“I can be pretty persuasive,” Recker said.

It wasn’t that he offered Riviere any one thing, but instead planted a seed, slowly getting Riviere to reconsider, he said.

The proposed contract is good for city coffers, Recker said. It includes an annual salary of $150,000, waiving of health benefits and a $500 monthly vehicle allowance.

There is no severance, Recker said, compared with Thompson’s $175,000 severance.

A nationwide search could cost $50,000 or more.

The decision is good for morale, too, Recker said.

“When staff sees a new person, there is fear and trepidation,” he said. “They think ‘Are they going to bring in their own directors?’”

This is Riviere’s first stint in city management. Riviere’s background as a business manager and project manager during the Anthrax scare of 2001 at the U.S. Postal Service suffices, Recker said. Membership in the Florida League of Cities and an education in municipal government aren’t necessary, he said.

“That stuff is icing on the cake, but the cake itself is there with Jim,” Recker said.

Riviere is popular, residents Bill McMullan and Steve Stefanides said.

“We got the right guy at the right time,” Stefanides said.

McMullan, who corresponds with hundreds of residents on Marco matters through an Internet newsletter, agreed.

“There is an overwhelming consensus among the people I’m talking to in the community that it’s been a nice change and they like the direction we’re going,” McMullan said.

Councilman Chuck Kiester said the title didn’t concern him.

“It’s meaningless anyway. He’s there until he quits or we fire him,” Kiester said.

Councilman Larry Magel proposed Riviere receive bonus pay for meeting council’s goals.

Riviere doesn’t need it to stay motivated, said Recker, so bonuses aren’t in the contract to be considered by council Aug. 16.

Monday’s regularly scheduled council meeting is canceled, reported City Clerk Laura Litzan. A special-called budget hearing is scheduled at 10:30 a.m. Monday.

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Comments » 16

ed34145 writes:

" “I can be pretty persuasive,” Recker said"

Since when do individual council members make a decision for the entire council? Oh, that's right, ever since the transparent spewing Bonaparte took over.

happy6 writes:

does he have his city mgrs. license? i'm all for him but he does need to get his license.

August8 writes:

" Well" ??????????????????/

Is this man qualified, ?????

dc5799 writes:

I have been here since (98) and he is the best I have seen. Nice job please stay.

Fossil writes:

August 8: I say let's make him Mayor. That way you will stop with he s----- questions. Of course he is qualified if the City Council wants him. We voted for the Council didn't we? They do our bidding don't they?

mymommd writes:

Councilman Larry Magel proposed Riviere receive bonus pay for meeting council’s goals. Nice! Lay off Police Officers and use that money for his bonus pay. I find this hard to swallow.

condoseller writes:

I'm sure there are many city empoyees who have met city council goals in recent times who have not received a raise over the past couple of years nor have they received a bonus. Other exemplary and essential staff have been laid off from the police dept. Surely, Mr. Riviere will turn away this bonus offer from his friend councilman Magel. I agree he has performed well during his short tenure but he has been well paid. Marco Island is not Wall St where top executives are rewarded in poor economic times and at tge expense of displaced employees. I also doubt morale is high among the rank and file.

kakman writes:

in response to Klabautermann:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

All I can say is HUH?? Why don't you learn to speak English -- maybe your comments would then make sense.

GBR writes:

in response to dc5799:

I have been here since (98) and he is the best I have seen. Nice job please stay.

The best we have seen, true.
But in all reality, the bar wasn't set that high. He clears it easily in slippers.

I've never found simply firing people to be a sound management style.

However, he does have me optimistic.

;-)

ajm3s writes:

in response to Klabautermann:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Nice rebuttal. City Manager voted on by City Council to reverse what I believe was an error in judgement when they hired Mr. Thompson. We are humans.

Is there an egg of Marco?

LOL

ajm3s writes:

in response to GBR:

The best we have seen, true.
But in all reality, the bar wasn't set that high. He clears it easily in slippers.

I've never found simply firing people to be a sound management style.

However, he does have me optimistic.

;-)

I agree, but the city was poorly managed under certain directors and the past City Manager was simply allowing things to continue with fiscal decisions that were missing the mark.

Firing people may not be a sound management style, but it is the most effective in reducing costs in a bad economic environment. Small businesses do not fire people as a first resort but generally as a last resort. I believe we were at that point in this city. Mr. Thompson and Mr. Olmstead would never have left without a severance package and that required dismissal. In essence, Mr. Thompson was egocentric and would not have accepted any other option; Mr. Olmstead was lacking in foresight and he was not respected by those who worked with him. I will forgo my rationale for the dismissal of the Communication Director whose name escapes me.

That is just my opinion.

ajm3s writes:

To review history and to support my claim that history matters. Consider the poll taken in April, 2008 during the review of prior City Manager applicants. I believe those engaged in the survey had a clue.

http://www.marconews.com/polls/2008/a...

And then there was this poll in December, 2008 of which the results are no longer posted on the web.

http://www.marconews.com/news/2008/de...

captnjimbo writes:

The combination of this council and this manager has been pretty good...some of us are getting so old we can't remember the high spending arrogance of just a few years ago...things actually look like they are being managed! Give him a contract...one year at a time.

MrBreeze writes:

I say he is doing a good job but please do not over pay for his or anyone's services with the taxpayer dollar.

In my hometown the city manager was started out at 89,000 and voted himself to 139,000 some seven years later. The job on small Marco Island is not that hard. The departments are small and easy to manage. What is tough is the Council. They are like kids wanting to just spend our dollars.

I say cap the pay, go for a year like Jimbo says. See where we are after that.

happy34145 writes:

I have never been so satisfied with our city government as now. Its a breath of fresh air to feel like things are being taken care of professionally and responsibly and for the good of the island and its residents. I really hope things continue and maybe this can be paradise again. Thank you Mr Riviere - we all hope you stay on for as long as you can.

ChuckKiester writes:

Gentlemen and Ladies, please allow me to share my experiences with non-degreed city managers in north central Florida. With the exception of Gainesville (over 200,000) not one of the 32 other cities in the 11-county region, several larger than Marco, employed a so-called professional city manager---most were locals with smarts and natural ability or retired military officers, all of whom were very professional in carrying out their duties. That is why I was so shocked after running into "professional" city managers on Marco after I moved here in 2002 (Moss, Shoemaker and Thompson) whose only goals seemed to be to retain a majority vote on city council and watch each others' backs. When I moved to Marco and noted the fact that the city had not only a professional manager AND a Community Development Director with two professional Planners (where a somewhat larger city (Perry 16,000) did not only have a full-time degreed city planner (much less 2) nor a degreed city manager, that I began to wonder what was different about Marco which required such excessive needs. I concluded 2 things, one that Marco was new to cityhood and needed all the help it could get and turned to the professionals and secondly that because the city was newly created those who served on city council had no background (plan board and other committees), in city governance which left a vacuum for someone like Moss to dictate the agenda. Needless to say, I have concluded that non-degreed city managers, especially those who have a sense of ethics and not being that dependent on retaining their jobs for small cities such as Marco to be best. Chuck Kiester

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