Going it alone: Marco Island City Council will continue city manager search without a headhunter

Marco Island Council Chairman Ken Honecker outlines the steps council will take to moves forward and hire a new city manager. Honecker called an emergency meeting Wednesday to discuss Slavin Management Consultants, a second search firm that terminated its contract effective Dec. 17. Cheryl Ferrara/Eagle Correspondent

Marco Island Council Chairman Ken Honecker outlines the steps council will take to moves forward and hire a new city manager. Honecker called an emergency meeting Wednesday to discuss Slavin Management Consultants, a second search firm that terminated its contract effective Dec. 17. Cheryl Ferrara/Eagle Correspondent

Marco Island City Attorney Burt Saunders confirms Wednesday that City Council can use finalists’ applications prepared by Slavin Management Consultants. Cheryl Ferrara/Eagle Correspondent

Marco Island City Attorney Burt Saunders confirms Wednesday that City Council can use finalists’ applications prepared by Slavin Management Consultants. Cheryl Ferrara/Eagle Correspondent

A sparse crowd attends Marco Island’s City Council emergency meeting Wednesday. Council had one agenda item: to figure out how to find a new city manager without a professional search firm. Cheryl Ferrara/Eagle Correspondent

A sparse crowd attends Marco Island’s City Council emergency meeting Wednesday. Council had one agenda item: to figure out how to find a new city manager without a professional search firm. Cheryl Ferrara/Eagle Correspondent

— An emergency meeting Wednesday of Marco Island’s City Council ended with a plan to move forward with hiring a city manager. Council will take up the search where Robert Slavin of Slavin Management Consultants left off. Council will not replace the firm.

Slavin’s company was the second search firm hired by council. In September, council terminated an agreement with its first search company, Colin Baenziger Associates.

Council learned Monday that Robert Slavin terminated his search services effective Dec. 17. In a letter emailed to the city Friday, Dec. 6, and delivered Monday, Slavin gave no indication why he was cancelling the agreement. He invoked the 10-day termination notice allowed in his Sept. 30 contract and requested outstanding payments.

During the past two months, Slavin submitted two invoices to the city. The first on Oct. 15 requested $5,947 for professional services and expenses. The city received a second invoice for $4,000 around Nov. 15.

Slavin indicated in his letter that he would void the November invoice. He also indicated he will turn over documents he holds on applicants his firm processed. He asked the city to pay for his travel and expenses to council’s Dec. 2 meeting.

At that meeting, some councilors showed a low level of interest in the applicants presented by Slavin. They aired concerns about the search and quality of candidates. That may have contributed to Slavin’s decision.

City Clerk Laura Litzan said Wednesday morning that Slavin was not required by contract to give a reason for terminating the agreement.

If Slavin had continued to secure a city manager, he would have received a total of $13,000 plus expenses. Slavin indicated he had received no payments from the city.

Before the Wednesday meeting, Interim City Manager Guillermo Polanco suggested the termination could have resulted for a myriad of reasons.

“Maybe they’re protecting their reputation or the city’s for whatever happened,” he said.

Polanco summed up his feelings about Slavin’s action.

“It was very unprofessional of them. If they were unhappy, they should have said something at the last council meeting or waited until the next (Jan. 6) meeting.”

Polanco did not discuss the letter with Slavin but indicated Litzan had spoken to him by phone.

Litzan said she called Slavin Monday and was told his decision was final. He also let her know candidate Colin Donnelly, assistant city manager of Dania Beach, Fla., had withdrawn his name from consideration. Slavin told Litzan he had personally recruited Donnelly.

Litzan indicated Slavin may not have been happy with the recent council meeting, but felt council made some progress. She suggested losing Donnelly as a candidate could have impacted Slavin’s decision.

By a vote of 7-0, council agreed to a timeline for vetting and interviewing applicants. Candidates will be subject to background checks by Gleason & Associates, Inc., a screening firm specializing in local government executive finalists.

At its Jan. 6 meeting, council will decide on the number of candidates to be interviewed. Interviews will take place on Jan. 13-14.

In the interim, finalists chosen by council on Dec. 2 will be contacted and given an explanation of the new process and what to expect as council goes forward.

© 2013 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 13

OldMarcoMan writes:

Guess our reputation for being hard to work for is catching up to us.
Its obvious to almost anyone that Marco needs a full time Mayor elected by the people not appointed by the council.
A little town like Marco doesn't need a professional City Manager it needs a government thats responsive to the people.

ajm3s writes:

"Litzan said she called Slavin Monday and was told his decision was final. He also let her know candidate Colin Donnelly, assistant city manager of Dania Beach, Fla., had withdrawn his name from consideration. Slavin told Litzan he had personally recruited Donnelly."

Is this how professional recruitment operates? If as written,

"Litzan indicated Slavin may not have been happy with the recent council meeting, but felt council made some progress. She suggested losing Donnelly as a candidate could have impacted Slavin’s decision."

Lots of conjecture!

Who are we to turn to for the real story?

ed34145 writes:

The real story? Just watch a city council meeting and you will see why no one wants to work here.

harrisbill239#279036 writes:

in response to Genuine:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

The only way to get the "real truth" would be for Bob Slavin to provide it, and that's not likely to happen. But, how would you like a job working for 7 bosses who can't agree on anything, and the majority of whom want to micro-manage everything to death? The average tenure of City Manager's is 5 years, and most of them (at least on Marco) end up getting fired. They are at the complete mercy of the City Council, and as soon as a new council is elected, it seems that the City Manager, no matter how good or bad, has to go. To make it worse, the current council seems to be treading water at best; and they are all eligible for another 4 year term. How do we break this deadlock? How do we move ahead for the good of Marco? The answer is: we have to vote enough of them out in the next election to break the stranglehold. Three seats are open for this election (Batte, Keister, Bob Brown). We should be able to determine which of those should remain (for the good of Marco), and which of those should be replaced; we should be able to find a common path forward and get some real traction. I'm as guilty as anyone, in that I helped to elect some of these in the last election, and I'm very frustrated and very disappointed. I expected better. History Lesson: Never vote for a group or block of people. Always vote for each individual on their own specific beliefs and character. If a group all endorse each other, then they probably will not vote independently. The 'group' now control the majority. In order to have a better outcome, we need to break the majority.

Konfuzius writes:

My statement is still headline news.
Quit frankly!
This is still a disaster for the officials we elected by the majority of the citizens of Marco Island with a tsunami effect..
The headhunter company made a lousy job. 13 aspirants on a short list is a declaration of bankruptcy and professionalization. This city council proof themselves as amateurs. Peters Principe. The Peter Principle is a proposition that states that the members of an organization where promotion is based on achievement, success, and merit will eventually be promoted beyond their level of ability. How will they run professional a city, if they have no ability to hire a city manager professional.
I tell you what:

Go to Green Cove Spring, interview the City Manager and make her an offer. Her name is DANIELLE J. JUDD. She is the best. That is what Marco Island needs.

And the best: My service cost you no one cent.
But in your indescribable arrogance you - the city council with the most credibility ever got - will ignore this advice and hire the third headhunter company with non professional briefing on my and all other expensive s of the taxpayer of Marco Island and continue your mismanagement. Somebody of you guys said: Marco Island deserves the best of the best! Why have we from the beginning on second class city councilor except David Brunner and Chuck Kiester?

Guys change your attitude or face your political tsunami in 4 years.

ajm3s writes:

in response to ed34145:

The real story? Just watch a city council meeting and you will see why no one wants to work here.

What I don't understand is why a headhunter who is not an employee but essentially a contractor assigned a task of providing leads. Now, I can understand the frustration of citizens with council not able to agree or accept the qualifications of those brought forward by the head hunter, but they did agree on a limited list.

I just do not understand why he would not simply go forward with the list or direction of council.

As I read this article the author seems to imply that the lead candidate, Mr. Donnelly, was the head hunters personal choice....but that seems odd that he would quit.

If a head hunter is a professional, this cannot be the first time he had to deal with a board with opinions that are discriminating.

If so, I guess I must have thick skin, because from where I see it, this is not that difficult for the head hunter to simply adjust his methodology to fit the board's request.

Or am I missing something? Not trying to be argumentative just confused I guess.

Konfuzius writes:

The bottom line is simple by two oprions:

1. City Council give a wrong briefing to the head hunter!
2. The head hunter was not qualified.

I guess both options were working.

A short list of 13 candidates is BS and a briefing must be not subsisted.

It is a comedian show with - what did somebody posted - 7 clowns - have no idea to run a city.

Marco Island is far away from the best of the best! Lets hire a mayor. I told you that since 4 years!

August8 writes:

in response to ed34145:

The real story? Just watch a city council meeting and you will see why no one wants to work here.

Can't disagree with this post.

GorgonZola writes:

#1: Instead of entertaining candidates and wives, (on our money) after declaring you do not approve of most of them, buy a broom and sweep clean. You can be sure they will be given Grade A accommodations and a whirlwind tour of the city -- better than many of the year-round residents can afford. Why try to woo people you don't feel are good enough for the position? Just give the money to charity!
#2: While you are at it, apply same broom to city council. Save time and energy -- forget insulting them and name-calling -- just dump them.
#3: How naive can you be -- you WONDER why Slavin quit? Did you not hear the 7 'geniuses say how unqualified the list he gave them was, but they would condescend to interview 5 of them if arms were twisted? Why would any professional, Slavin included, agree to be micromanaged by this unqualified group of know-nothings? Shame on them - they all need to go! And good for Slavin -- he had the guts to be ethical and show that money and 'being right' and having the last word are not the most important things -- why get into a contest with city councilors (and risk yet another chart!) - his integrity was at stake and he did the gentlemanly thing by cutting his losses and walking away. Right now he looks a heck of a lot better than what we have to stare at!

1Paradiselost writes:

in response to OldMarcoMan:

Guess our reputation for being hard to work for is catching up to us.
Its obvious to almost anyone that Marco needs a full time Mayor elected by the people not appointed by the council.
A little town like Marco doesn't need a professional City Manager it needs a government thats responsive to the people.

More people should listen to the advice of oldMarcoMan above.

Time to elect a strong Mayor form of government. If we can get 10% of the voters to sign a petition we can make this happen!

Is it just me who is tired of this city spending 100's of thousand's of dollars of taxpayer money every 2 years on consultants. That's not counting the lost taxpayer money spent on the Smokehouse Bridge consultants.

As a city, What do we have to show for all this wasted money?

Momface (Inactive) writes:

Too much time, here, wasted watching, too few people, who will make no difference no matter how much they blog.

Konfuzius writes:

in response to Momface:

Too much time, here, wasted watching, too few people, who will make no difference no matter how much they blog.

But islandeye you do, you do.

26yearsonmarco writes:

Here is the answer to our City staffing problem:

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/ec7ee5f2-65...

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