Hiring of Town Manager

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Hiring of Town Manager

Postby Rosemarie L. Rung » Thu Dec 12, 2002 10:18 am

I understand that the selectmen have internally posted the position of Town Manager and this deeply concerns me. Why do the selectmen think they are capable of evaluating and hiring a candidate as this town's chief executive officer when they can't even make a recommendation on trash disposal?

I suggest that the selectmen engage a professional recruitment firm to draft a job decription/job qualifications document and then hire them to recruit candidates. I also think it is best for the hiring to take place after the April elections as it is not appropriate for this board to make a decision like this when a majority of them are up for re-election, and very well may not return to their positions. This is a situation where we can work under an interim town manager if the hiring cannot be concluded by the end of June.

I'm sure that the NH Municipal Association can recommend several recruitment firms experienced in this process.
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Postby Storytjdsa1 » Thu Dec 12, 2002 11:22 am

Rosemarie & et all,
I agree with your thoughts on this subject.
Although I feel that I maybe I'm giving a generous amount of credit to the BOS with the following suggestion, maybe they are just going thru the initial recruitment process and checking within their own ranks to see if anybody fills the position requirements. However having said that, even if the BOS does find someone within the current town ranks, the BOS still should do as you suggest and utilize a recruitment firm for a state and or national search. I feel that way the BOS would not limit their selection process and not limit the caliber of possible candidates. It is my opinion, if they do pick someone internally then the BOS, all the candidates and the town's citzens would begin to feel good about the town mgr position/role again.
We could only hope some of the current BOS starts to take the blind folds off, stop shooting from the hip and put more logical rationale (less emontional) in the decision process.
As far as the final decision goes, I think there will be plenty of time from now till the next BOS elections (with the use of a recruitment firm to conduct a wide search) to at least narrow the field down to a few qualified candidates whereas the next BOS can make the final decision.
Tom S.
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Postby Chuck Mower » Thu Dec 12, 2002 4:30 pm

The selectmen cannot pursue the hiring of a new town manager in secret. At what meeting did the public discussion of hiring a new manager take place? Perhaps I missed something?
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Postby Debra Huffman » Thu Dec 12, 2002 4:52 pm

I can't swear to it, but I believe I recall that this was discussed at a BOS meeting a few weeks ago (the old agendas are not kept on the web site so I can't be sure). I believe I recall that the decision was to INITIALLY look internally and broaden the search if need be.

If my memory serves and this is correct, it seems a reasonable approach. Anyone suitable for this job will have the professionalism to work with whatever BOS is seated after the April elections. Anyone who would present a problem for the new BOS would probably not be a suitable candidate in the first place.
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Postby Chuck Mower » Thu Dec 12, 2002 6:01 pm

Debra,

I still must have missed something. There needs to be more discussion than maybe we will look internally. What is it that we are looking for? A topic of this importance should have left a more distinct impression on the viewer, if it was discussed at all.
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Internal search first

Postby Nat Fairbanks » Thu Dec 12, 2002 7:04 pm

I can't find any minutes or agendas between Oct 31st and Dec 12th, but I recall Norman Carr remarking that the BOS had gotten input from the NH municipal association offering help with an external search, but the BOS decided (I believe he said they discussed it in private session) to begin by searching internal first. I _think_ this was mentioned near the begining of the Dec 5th meeting, which should still be running on cable TV.

-Nat
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Postby Brian McCarthy » Thu Dec 12, 2002 7:54 pm

It was announced at the 5th meeting that the BOS would first look internally. There was no mention of what they were looking for or if the NHMA gave them guidelines (or if they accepted those guidelines).

And yes, Chairman Carr did state that a decision to look internally first was discussed ealier in the day by the board.
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Postby Carolyn G. Whitlock » Thu Dec 12, 2002 10:22 pm

Chuck Mower wrote:Debra,

I still must have missed something. There needs to be more discussion than maybe we will look internally. What is it that we are looking for? A topic of this importance should have left a more distinct impression on the viewer, if it was discussed at all.


Chuck,

Yes, Norm Carr did announce at a selectmen's meeting that the board had decided to open the search to people in house first and, then, if they decided to do so, they would do a wide spread search later.

I think it's pretty obvious what they are doing. They want to give Betty Spence first refusal of the job. A previous board determined that she was qualified to be Town Manager when they hired her as Assistant Town Manager. The previous board felt that her years of being a secretary in the Town Clerk's office, serving as the elected Town Clerk and then as the Town Manager's Executive Assistant provided her with sufficient education to serve in the capacity of Assistant and/or Town Manager. The need for formal education in a related field was not a requirement because she had the experience.
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Postby Chuck Mower » Fri Dec 13, 2002 5:08 am

Disregard for process and professionalism is so much the order of the day that no one even seems interested in how the conduct of public business should take place. We don't have accurate minutes that convey the fullness of the discussions that take place(or maybe there is no discussion). We don't have timely minutes(this is the middle of Dec and the last minutes available are Oct). Nothing is explained for the public and we are forced to put together the cryptic understanding of several people and deduce what likely happened at some unknown point in time. It seems evident to me that we are about to stumble through another important decision without giving the public or the potential applicants the professional attention they deserve.
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process and professionalism

Postby Nat Fairbanks » Fri Dec 13, 2002 10:50 am

I think it's simply sensory overload at this point. You would think that after carefully explaining that speakers during the first public comment section must talk about items related to the current agenda the chair would be sure to know what is on the agenda. Yet the chair attempted to stop me from speaking until I pointed out item 1 of old business (on an agenda with 4 new business items and 2 old business items).

I might think some of the current lapses are due to the BOS being overworked, but later in that same meeting the BOS basically said "thanks but no thanks" to an attempt to ease their workload.

I know some people think a changing of the guard is all that is needed, but is it really that simple? Will new members of the BOS succumb to the same pressures? I've only been following town government since last years town meeting so I don't have the history a lot of other forum readers do. Have similiar problems plagued the BOS in the past? Is some other solution needed?

-Nat
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Postby Brian McCarthy » Fri Dec 13, 2002 11:09 am

Nat,

Norm forgot the only-on-the-agenda rule and I'm glad he was reminded of it and hope he will continue to follow the process they voted to try.

I don't think I'm alone in hoping that the BOS becomes a much more forward thinking, information providing body. Their current actions, including closing of the forum just seem to be going in the wrong direction when it comes to information flow.

They still have yet to produce a docuement which prior boards had which describe a BOS meeting and what happens at one. I've got a copy of an old one at home.

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Postby Carolyn G. Whitlock » Fri Dec 13, 2002 12:31 pm

Nat,

My personal experience as a former selectman and a former school board member is that I worked a lot harder and spent a lot more hours being a school board member than I did as a selectman.

The school board meetings rarely got out before midnight. We, too, had committee assignments but all of our committees were active, unlike some of the selectmen's committees that meet only occasionally or not at all. No one balked at having extra meetings. We had a job to do and we did whatever it took to get the job done in a professional and timely manner and in a public forum.

When I was a selectman, I found a very different attitude. It seemed that lots of decisions were discussed and made by consensus offline and then ratified in public session. My campaign slogan was "Select a Woman with Vision." My suggestions for long-term planning were often disregarded, partly because implementing them would have requried unwanted extra meetings.

Based on my own experience, I would say selectmen are not overworked. It wouldn't surprise me, however, if some of the selectmen have unrealistic expectations of how much time it takes to do the job well. It would help if they had more willingness to develop personal expertise about issues and then educate their constituents.

When have you ever seen a board of selectmen devote as much time, research, analysis, and reporting of outcome to any issue that can compare to the job done by the Ad Hoc SWAC? Not every issue requires that kind of a commitment, of course, but I've never seen evidence that this board has any interest in giving that kind of service to the community.
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Postby Tim Tenhave » Fri Dec 13, 2002 8:59 pm

Chuck Mower wrote: We don't have accurate minutes that convey the fullness of the discussions that take place(or maybe there is no discussion). We don't have timely minutes(this is the middle of Dec and the last minutes available are Oct).


I thought some of you would like to know that minutes are required by RSA to be available after 6 days of any public meeting (with some exceptions). But unfortunately, available does not mean posted on a town website. It just means available on request during normal business hours.

If you are curious, see the RSA:

http://gencourt.state.nh.us/rsa/html/VI/91-A/91-A-2.htm

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Postby joe179 » Sat Dec 14, 2002 8:46 am

I would assume that when the referenced RSA was established, the term "available" could be defined as the most expeditious means to publish the said minutes existing at that time (1967-1992). e.g., in the old days information might be posted on a community bulletin board, or even brodcast by the town crier. More recently, say 1967, the timeframe set was based on the reasonable time to type the minutes, review them, print them, and file them.

In our modern age of electronic information technology, I would think that since the minutes are generated elcetronically, they would be made "available" electronically, via a link on the town web site---within the stated timeframe of the RSA.

I just checked the town web site and noted the BOS minutes are a bit dated as the latest available are from 31 October. However, in fairness, we do have the local Merrimack Channel available to watch the BOS meetings if one desires.
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Postby Pat Heinrich » Sat Dec 14, 2002 9:17 am

Joe
RSA 91, also known as the Right to Know Law, mandates that minutes must be written w/in 144 hours after a meeting and thus "available" if anyone asks to see them. It does not require public posting of minutes in any form or even that you are entitled to a free copy. Also bear in mind, that what you will see 144 hours after a meeting (or 72 for Non-public minutes) are DRAFT minutes until the board approves them. While many boards are now posting minutes on their websites, most boards will not post any minutes until they are approved. However, timely posting of approved minutes on the town website is another matter and is not covered by any RSA.
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