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Selection or default?

It is my understanding that the process of interviewing candidates for Marco Island city manager has hit a bit of a snag.

Two candidates, Messrs. Gruber and Hamaday were remaining for interviews on 17 July, to be followed for the public’s “Meet & Greet” on 18 July. Finally, on the following day, 19 July, City Council was to make the final selection between the two.

Unfortunately, Mr. Hamaday withdrew his candidacy, leaving Mr. Gruber alone to be “interviewed” on Monday, “evaluated” by the public on Tuesday and undergo “selection” on Wednesday. Now, if on Wednesday, five of our seven elected councilors decide to vote for him, he becomes our city manager.

Being hired by default instead of by competitive selection should be unacceptable to anyone, including the candidate. The appearance of a “fix” is just as damaging to everyone involved as would be hard evidence of one.

In the interest of fairness to the Marco Island community, City Council would be well advised to delay the above process and request one or more additional candidates be provided by the consultant prior to continuing the selection process. Happily, the consultant has a list of more than seven additional qualified, interested candidates. Marco Island deserves a selected city manager, not one hired by default. We’ve been there, done that.

Russ Colombo, Marco Island

No snag

The citizens of Marco Island should be proud of the current City Council for installing and sticking with a professional, standard process for selecting our next city manager.

There is no “snag,” and nothing — nothing — is being done by default. There has been plenty of competition for this highly desirable position, and in City Council’s winnowing down process, choices have been made at every step, and every city councilor has had the opportunity to advocate in favor of, or against, individual candidates. I cannot speak for my colleagues, but I can assure the community that I will not vote for a candidate simply because he or she is the “last one.”

City Council began this process in February, following Roger Hernstadt’s unexpected resignation.

City Council agreed on a 7-0 vote to hire an independent search firm to reach out nationwide on our behalf.

City Council voted 7-0 to hire the firm that each of us ranked #1 in our review of proposals to do the work.

City Council voted 7-0 to approve the consultant’s recruiting materials, brochures, and advertising.

More important, on three separate occasions City Council voted either 7-0, or 6-0 when one councilor was absent, or by unanimous voice consent, to “follow the process” outlined by the consultant.

On a fourth occasion, City Council was split 5-2 on a request to toss in a semifinalist candidate that the consultant recommended against.

Votes on City council of 7-0, 6-0, and 5-2 suggest a collegial process that still makes room for objections to be heard, but one that continues to follow the process.

Early in the process, the consultant estimated we would have 100 applicants, that 10 would qualify as semifinalists, and that City Council might identify two, three, or four to invite back to Marco Island for final selection. How did those estimates turn out? We had 85 applicants, eight qualified as semifinalists, and we identified two to invite back. In other words, we followed the process, and it worked out pretty much the way the consultant said it would.

Toward the end, one of the two candidates withdrew from consideration. One candidate remains. Some have said that City Council should at this point ask to see additional candidates. In my view, such a request would upend the process. We have already gone through the list. To bring back candidates who have already been rejected would be odd. Or political theatre. And unfair to the candidate who did make it through the process. The remaining candidate and his wife are coming to Marco Island to check us out, and the community can meet him on Tuesday night at Mango’s starting at 5:30 p.m.

Each of us on City Council will have individual interviews with the candidate as well.

Then on Wednesday night, we on City Council and any interested person will have an opportunity to speak at our meeting about the candidate. If five or more of us on City Council wish to extend an offer, we can do so. If we do not wish to extend an offer, we won’t, and we can restart the process.

Larry Honig, chairman, Marco Island City Council

Same plan for public, politicians

A simple healthcare solution would be for the senators and congressmen to approve, for all of us, the same plan they enjoy. Barring that, they should agree to be covered by whatever they come up with for the general population. That way, they will have a vested interest in the result.

Clayton Jones, Isles of Capri

Trump a joke

President Donald Trump, in a recent tweet, claimed to be the “modern president.” What a joke. But I’m sure he really believes that.

Reality suggests a look around. Canadian President Justin Trudeau, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel are the true young, modern leaders.

Trump is nothing more than an old, senile, embarrassing bully.

Ro Jones, Isles of Capri

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