Letter to the Editor: Setting the record straight regarding the manager candidates

A recent letter to the editor was not quite correct as it pertains to the candidates for City Council and, in particular, the candidate referred to initially as “Mr. X.” It is important for the citizens of Marco Island to know that there were no “back-door politics” or violations of Sunshine Laws involved, thus I want to clarify what occurred.

When the subject of selecting semi-finalists from our consultant, Bob Slavin, was introduced, a number of councilors, including myself, expressed that we were somewhat disappointed with his choices and were having difficulty with developing a list of candidates. I went through all the resumes and responses to questions provided by Mr. Slavin to the candidates a number of times; I also did some Internet searches that led to my sending Mr. Slavin some specific questions about some of the candidates.

In particular, I was surprised that one of the original candidates, Roger Hernstadt, who is the city manager in Marathon, who had been proposed by our prior consultant, Colin Baenziger, was not on the list. My surprise was due to the fact that while attending a Florida League of Cities meeting recently I spoke with a councilor from a neighboring community who mentioned to me that Mr. Hernstadt was still interested in the Marco position; subsequently, I contacted Mr. Slavin and indicated that I was going to be near Marathon and wanted to know if it was appropriate for me to contact Mr. Hernstadt, whom I’ve never met, to see if we could introduce ourselves to one another.

Mr. Slavin indicated that Mr. Hernstadt was concerned about confidentiality, and that unless he was a semi-finalist, he didn’t feel we should meet, at which point I advised Mr. Slavin I would drop the matter.

Because I felt that Mr. Hernstadt would make an outstanding candidate based on his credentials and experience, especially in a community similar to Marco, I called the prior consultant the morning of Dec. 2 to determine if there were any issues of whether or not I could ask Mr. Slavin to consider Mr. Hernstadt; Mr. Baenziger said there were no issues, even offered to help, but I left it at that until the meeting, at which time I asked Mr. Slavin if he had spoken to Mr. Hernstadt, to which he indicated he had, but again, repeated the concerns with confidentiality. In the interest of full disclosure I then restated how I had come to know that Mr. Hernstadt might still be interested and also that I had spoken with Mr. Baenziger and my initial proposal to try to meet Mr. Hernstadt. I believe it was Councilor Honig who commented something to the effect that since he knew where I had traveled to that he could figure out which candidate I was referring to and he thought it was a good idea as well to consider him and that is when we started to refer to him as “Mr. X” in order to protect his confidentiality. It’s my understanding that at the break our city attorney discussed the matter with individual councilors and, in open forum, expressed the opinion that I could use Mr. Hernstadt’s name, and council subsequently voted 7-0 to extend an invitation to Mr. Hernstadt to apply on the basis that he would be a semi-finalist.

I have never spoken to Mr. Hernstadt, however I did research him on the Internet, and also read the research provided by Colin Baenziger. Based on this information I still feel he is an outstanding candidate for the Marco position, however I want to once more emphasize that I certainly never have spoken to him, I have had no communication of any nature with him, and the “secrecy” behind not using his name was out of respect for his request for confidentiality; once someone submits their application, it becomes public record.

Larry Sacher

Marco Island City Council

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Comments » 10

Newegg writes:

I watched the meeting on TV; the whole episode regarding ‘Mr X’ was so sophomoric. And the discussion about voting for candidate and generating ballots—oops—“where’s a copy machine that works?” None of that gave me confidence in the competence of the council.

And speaking of competence—Mr. Sacher, the first line of your letter above says:

A recent letter to the editor was not quite correct as it pertains to the candidates for City Council and, in particular, the candidate referred to initially as “Mr. X.”

“Candidates for City Council” should have been “candidates for City Manager.” Did you screw that up, or did the Marco Eagle?

harrisbill239#279036 writes:

in response to Newegg:

I watched the meeting on TV; the whole episode regarding ‘Mr X’ was so sophomoric. And the discussion about voting for candidate and generating ballots—oops—“where’s a copy machine that works?” None of that gave me confidence in the competence of the council.

And speaking of competence—Mr. Sacher, the first line of your letter above says:

A recent letter to the editor was not quite correct as it pertains to the candidates for City Council and, in particular, the candidate referred to initially as “Mr. X.”

“Candidates for City Council” should have been “candidates for City Manager.” Did you screw that up, or did the Marco Eagle?

Newegg - A very good catch on the "candidate for City Council" phrase. I didn't pick up on that the first time through. Perhaps they're grooming Hernstadt for City Council if they can't get him in as City Manager.

Konfuzius writes:

I am deeply convinced, even I read the LTE from our Vice-Chairman, that this is more a comedian and gossip show than a professional search for a city manager. It turns more and more to a would-be politician day light show than to a purposeful professional city manager hunt.
To bad. We citizen deserve better.

marco826 writes:

Having read your letter to the Editor, its clear that rather than follow protocol, you decided to meddle and did so probably scaring away a good candidate. Creating a "Mr. X"! Are you serious? We hire one firm, drop them, hire another, he drops us, we go back to the first firm and you meddle around behind the scenes thinking its your personal duty to save Marco Island...like Batman.

Konfuzius writes:

No company in the entire world will find and hire a manager if they choose this amateur way to find somebody. Why is it just the privilege of public government to do it in this lousy way?
And Larry can be never Batman. Batman is successful because he has Robin as intelligent mate. Their is no Robin next to Larry. And on top many cat lovers but no Cat-Lady. Marco Island is province and Marco midnight is 1900h.
Not attractive for top guys.

WizeOlMarco writes:

With Roger Hernstadt (city manager, Marathon) an original candidate (paragraph 3 Letter to Editor) the concern over his privacy, his identity known, seems a sunshine law partly cloudy protocol...well intended, poorly executed.

harrisbill239#279036 writes:

Folks - this is really important. I know that it's the holiday season, and everyone is more concerned with family, friends and celebrations - but - Councilor Sacher has agreed to the first Town Hall meeting (called "Coffee with the Councilor"), that the 'new' Council has scheduled. It will be held on January 22, 2013. My fears are that, should this meeting not be attended (or even very sparsely attended) that it will be the last Town Hall meeting. So, please, put out the word. Get your questions written and ready, and attend the meeting in droves. Hopefully, the remaining 6 Councilors will follow suit, and finally make good on their promises for an open, transparent city government, along with Town Hall meetings and Question and Answer sessions. This is perhaps the only way we will get answers to our questions and our concerns. Bill Harris, Marco.

condoseller writes:

There is no transparency on Marco and Mr. Sacher's "Coffee with the Councilor" will not change that.

Mr. Sacher had an intermediary for his conversation with Mr. Hernstadt. Hernstadt didn't apply during the search conducted by Mr. Slavin and the only reason he was included in the list of finalists was through a non-transparent series of conversations.

New councilmen, same Marco.

harrisbill239#279036 writes:

Councilor, I appreciate that you saw the need to "set the record straight" on "Mister X", and for your assertions that there were no “back-door politics” or violations of Sunshine Laws. But, lo and behold, we're down to the last two finalists, and guess who is still in the running? Give that man a silver button - the correct answer is: "Mister X". Does this surprise anyone? Certainly not me. I do have a question though, has Mister X promised to let the Council pull all the strings, make all the rules, and abide by Resolution 13-18? What does Mister X think of the manner in which Bryan Milk was suspended, promised an investigation, then fired? And, although an investigation was also requested by council members, that motion was summarily dismissed by the "majority of five". In early 2013, it was a minority of three, then in late 2013, it became a majority of four, and is now a majority of five. Congratulations - the takeover is pretty much complete. A new City Manager, another new department head, another new director or two to go - and it'll really be smooth sailing for the council.

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