Oneonta Common Council Rejects Adding Citizens To City Manager Search

Common Council Rejects Adding

Citizens To City Manager Search

Council member Larry Malone, in voting to exclude two members of the public from the city-manager search, said it is "extremely important to maintain the confidentiality of the candidates."  (Ian Austin/allotsego.com)
Council member Larry Malone, in voting to exclude two members of the public from the city-manager search, said it is “extremely important to maintain the confidentiality of the candidates.” (Ian Austin/allotsego.com)
City Hall's consultant in recruitment of the new city manager, Nick Mazza, tells Common Council he has winnowed the 37 applicants down to 25 for its consideration.
City Hall’s consultant in recruitment of the new city manager, Nick Mazza, tells Common Council he has winnowed the 37 applicants down to 25 for its consideration.

ONEONTA – Common Council, 6-1, this evening rejected suggestions it expand its search committee for a new city manager to include two members of the public.

Unanimously, Common Council did vote to expand the search committee to include the whole council, not just its Human Resources Committee.

“What we’ve been through,” said Council member Russ Southard, HR committee chair, referring to working 18 months with the first city manager, “makes us the best experienced people to select the next city manager.”

Council member Larry Malone, who is also a Charter Revision Committee member and served on the original Charter Commission, voted “nay” on including members of the public in the search, saying his constituents told him they’d hired him to do the job.

One concern voiced by several Council members was that adding non-Council members would threaten the “confidentiality” of the process.

When the question was called, only Council member David Rissberger voted “aye.” Council member Bob Brzozowski was absent.

Members of the Charter Revision Committee, appointed by Mayor Miller in the wake of City Manager Mike Long’s sudden decision to resign at the end of May, were in the audience at tonight’s specially called meeting in Common Council chambers.

However, no public comment period was included on the special meeting’s agenda, so neither they or other members of the public had the opportunity to express a contrary view. Previously voiced concerns that the search process has been crafted with a particular applicant in mind were not raised tonight.

“What we want for the community is the search to be transparent,” John Dudek, a Charter Revision Committee members, said after the meeting. Another committee member, Sarah Patterson, said she served on a broad-gauged 18-member search committee that hired Alan Donovan as SUNY Oneonta president in the 1980s, and there were no breaches of confidentiality.

Before Common Council went into executive session to review applications, the city’s hiring consultant, Nick Mazza, reported that advertisements with professional organizations and at SUNY campuses that offering master’s in public administration programs had yielded 37 applications.

He reported eliminating 12 of those because they did not fit the requirements of the charter, primarily for length of experience.