Lee County, Florida (population 618,754): Lee County soon will be looking for a new county manager, according to the Captiva Current. Karen B. Hawes and the Lee County Commission came to an agreement on an exit strategy for Hawes, who was forced to step down Tuesday, the latest victim of the Medstar medical helicopter service shutdown in August. The Commission voted 4-1 to accept Hawes’ resignation, who said nothing as she quietly picked up her things and left shortly after the vote was rendered. The lone dissenting vote was from Brian Bigelow, who for months has championed for Hawes termination. Bigelow wanted her fired with cause on Tuesday, which would have meant Lee County would not be on the hook for one year’s pay at $170,000, full year’s health insurance, sick and holiday pay and vacation leave boosting the package to more than $250,000. All those items are stipulated on her contract, which she signed upon being named city manager in 2009. The resignation means she will get that contractual severance package under the condition, Commissioner John Manning said, there would be no lawsuit filed by Hawes unless the county disparages her. Manning, who has worked with Hawes since 1985, was sorry to see her go and wished the investigation process had been finished before these events. Hawes’ last day is Oct. 31. The commission will get together next week to determine an interim manager. Manning said they would look internally for that, then begin to look regionally for a full-time replacement. Hawes has been at the center of a controversy involving the Aug. 21 grounding Lee County’s MedStar emergency helicopter service, among other things. Hawes said that Public Safety Director John Wilson and Deputy Public Safety Director Kim Dickerson told her a shutdown of MedStar was necessary to seek a voluntary accreditation. An administrative review revealed the shutdown was necessary after it was found MedStar did not have the proper safety credentials and wrongfully billed patients and an insurer $3 million. In the fallout, Wilson and Dickerson resigned. Also, Hawes’ subordinates were involved in a situation where the Economic Development Office gave a $5 million grant to VR Labs, a health food manufacturer looking to create more than 200 jobs building a bottling plant, but with $4.7 million spent, the company has not fulfilled its duties, Commissioner Frank Mann said. Mann said VR Labs now is in a legal battle with the general contractor hired for its remodeling. Both parties have filed lawsuits over the issue. Mann announced on Oct. 9 that at the following Tuesday’s regular meeting, he was going to make a motion calling for the commissioners to terminate Hawes’ contact as county manager. On Monday, the day before the meeting, Hawes had approached Mann and explained that she might be able to craft an “exit strategy” that would enable her to resign instead.
Escambia County, Florida (population 297,619): The Escambia County Commission has voted to terminate the contract of County Administrator Randy Oliver, according to NorthEscambia.com. Commissioner Grover Robinson made a motion Thursday night, seconded by Marie Young, to retain Oliver for the year remaining on his three-year contract. That motion failed 3-2, effectively terminating Oliver’s contract. During a public evaluation of Oliver’s job performance over the past year, commissioners spoke very little. Prior to Thursday night’s meeting, each county commissioner had already submitted their own personal written evaluation of Oliver’s job performance. He was given a generally good reviews by Young and Robinson, but numerous issues and shortcomings were raised by commissioners Kevin White, Wilson Robertson and Gene Valentino. Before his termination, Oliver made a presentation that lasted about 40 minutes applauding the accomplishments made by numerous county departments. Then he discussed his own performance and the projects he hoped to champion next year.
Carlsbad, California (population 105,328): Carlsbad City Manager Lisa Hildabrand plans to retire at the end of the year, the city announced late Tuesday, less than a week after Hildabrand began an abrupt leave, according to the North County Times. The announcement came after the night’s regular City Council meeting, where Mayor Matt Hall said Hildabrand’s performance evaluation was discussed earlier in the evening during the council’s closed session. The news release, distributed a few minutes later by the city communications director, said Hildabrand is retiring. It gave no information about what led to her decision. Hildabrand was absent from Tuesday’s meeting and reportedly has not been in her office at City Hall for several days. She started with the city as finance director in 1991 and was named assistant city manager in 2004. Hildabrand became interim city manager when former City Manager Ray Patchett retired in 2007, and was chosen from 55 applicants for the city manager’s job in 2008. Her last day will be Dec. 24, the release states, and the City Council will begin a search to fill the position. Her professional career began in San Diego with the accounting firm of KPMG, where she worked for eight years before coming to Carlsbad. Hildabrand received a 6 percent raise under her existing contract in December, boosting her pay by $13,000 to an annual base salary of $230,492. It was the first raise she had received since taking the job in 2008, and it did not require the City Council’s approval. A 2010 salary survey conducted by the North County Times showed that Hildabrand had one of the lowest salaries for a city manager in North County. Only Vista’s city manager was lower, with a total salary of $218,626. Also discussed in the council’s closed session Tuesday was the performance evaluation for City Attorney Ron Ball. A Carlsbad employee for 26 years, Ball has announced that he plans to retire at the end of this year. The city attorney’s annual base salary was increased in March to $252,992.
Highlands County, Florida (population 98,786): Former assistant county administrator June Fisher took over the job on a full-time basis Wednesday morning, according to the News-Sun. She was vaulted into the position following a vote Tuesday night, when a 4-1 majority of Highlands County commissioners ignored requests to scale back her contract offer in light of a pressing budget year. Commissioner Don Elwell supported the choice of Fisher, but raised a number of concerns ranging from terms of her severance package to her salary. Elwell first questioned a generous 20-week severance package noting it was more than previous administrator Rick Helms. When reminded that there would be one week deducted each year to a total of 10 weeks, Elwell responded that the previous two administrators didn’t last but two years after glowing recommendations for the job. Further, Elwell said his conversations with Fisher indicated that she wished to retire in five or six years. County Attorney Ross Macbeth then added that Fisher would not be entitled to the severance package unless she was terminated without cause as was the case with the two previous administrators. Elwell then suggested commissioners consider a 90-day severance package combined with a provision that the termination of the county administrator require a super-majority – at least four of the five votes on the commission. A consensus of commissioners then agreed they didn’t like Elwell’s suggestion. Fisher’s salary and benefit package was bumped to $116,000 just 18 months ago when she became the assistant county administrator. Elwell asked other commissioners if they might consider just a 10 percent raise. That would have started her at $128,000 annually versus the proposed $139,000 including $5,000 in deferred compensation. The suggestion came with an eye toward phasing in increases over the next few years based on performance. Commissioner Greg Harris was quick to agree with commissioner Ron Handley indicating he was “good with the way it was written.” Elwell’s final suggestion that the contract reference her performance of the duties detailed in the job description also was shot down, with Stewart laughing at the idea that the “CEO of the county,” as she put it, would even need a a job description. Before casting the lone negative vote to name Fisher as county administrator, Elwell emphasized his problem was not with her ability to do the job but in trying to find a balance between fairly compensating the administrator and protecting taxpayer dollars.
Lawton, Oklahoma (population 96,867): A stunning development Tuesday night from Lawton City Hall where the City Council voted to fire City Manager Larry Mitchell, according to KSWO. The vote followed a long debate behind closed doors during executive session, and when the council returned, Mayor Fred Fitch announced that no action was taken. That’s when Doug Wells made a motion to terminate Mitchell’s contract, effective immediately. The vote was 5-4 to terminate, with Wells, Bill Shoemate, Michael Tenis, Richard Zarle and Rosemary Bellino-Hall voting in favor. After the vote, Mayor Fitch called it unfair. Councilman George Moses angrily questioned Wells, and called it the most deceitful thing he’d seen the council do. He also asked for an investigation into whether the other council members had discussed the action before the vote. Mayor Fitch said he would take it up with the Attorney General Wednesday morning.
Portsmouth, Virginia (population 95,535): Portsmouth City Manager Ken Chandler has resigned in the wake of criticism for his handling of the employment of former Fire Chief Don Horton, according to WVEC. The City Council voted 7-0 to accept his resignation, while granting him one more month on the job and one year of severance pay totaling $192,000. Horton resigned this summer and was receiving a salary under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act. Then Chandler hired him as the Deputy Director of Emergency Management without notifying Council. The $98,000-a-year position was not in the budget, council members said. Council heard from Chandler about the issue during Monday night’s work session meeting. After that meeting, Mayor Kenneth Wright said the work session was productive and that additional requested information would be reviewed in a closed session at 5:00 p.m. Tuesday. After that, Wright said a decision would be made. Chandler was expected to offer his resignation Tuesday night, with the stipulations that he would continue working for 30 days and receive one year’s pay. Portsmouth resident James Brady was unhappy with the severance package. The assistant city manager is expected to step in while the city searches for a new city manager.
Montibello, California (population 62,500): After years of unstable leadership, officials hope that the selection of Montebello’s first woman city administrator will bring some stability to the city, according to the Whittier Daily News. The City Council on Wednesday selected Montebello’s finance director, Francesca Tucker-Schuyler, to take over as the city’s top executive full-time. Tucker-Schuyler was first appointed as the interim city administrator in May and has worked as the city’s finance director for almost two years. According to the draft contract agreement, Tucker-Schuyler will have an annual salary of $195,000. The council voted a rare 4-0 in support of the selection – bucking its usual trend of divided votes. Only Mayor Frank Gomez – who for months has been calling for the city to hire a permanent city administrator – abstained from the vote. He did not return calls for comment regarding why he abstained. Council members said they selected Tucker-Schuyler because of her extensive knowledge of the city’s finances and helping enhance the city’s cash flow. They credited her with successfully balancing the fiscal 2012-13 budget, navigating the city through four audits by the State Controller’s office and being instrumental in moving the city toward financial recovery. Councilman Art Barajas said Tucker-Schuyler has the qualifications and vision to help the city succeed. Tucker-Schuyler welcomed the new challenge. Montebello has had a revolving door of city managers since former City Administrator Richard Torres, who lead the city for nearly two decades, was fired in 2007. Torres was briefly replaced by interim Administrator Randy Narramore. But then Torres was rehired in January 2008. He then retired in December 2009 and was replaced with Interim City Administrator Nick Pacheco, who was quickly fired after just three weeks on the job. Narramore again played top executive before being fired in 2010. Peter Cosentini then took on the position for a mere seven months before resigning, citing his frustration with the City Council’s progress in addressing the city’s fiscal crisis. Larry Kosmont then served as Montebello’s top administrator for nine months before also resigning earlier this year. He was then followed by Interim Assistant City Administrator Keith Breskin, who resigned in May after coming to a head with council members over how to balance the city’s budget. In all, there have been seven temporary replacements in charge of managing the city in the past five years. The city did not recruit for the position, officials said. City officials said they plan to hire a full-time finance director in Tucker-Schuyler’s place.
Lake Elsinore, California (population 51,821): Grant Yates, a veteran municipal employee working for Temecula, will be Lake Elsinore’s next city manager, the City Council decided this week, according to the North County Times. The City Council selected Yates on Tuesday from among seven finalists for the position, which became available with the firing of Bob Brady on March 13. Yates said in an interview Wednesday that the job attracted him because of what he views as a dynamic future for the city as it emerges from the economic downturn. The executive search conducted by a city-hired consultant attracted more than 70 applicants, Mayor Brian Tisdale said. The decision to go with Yates came in an earlier meeting Tuesday closed to the public because it involved a personnel decision. The mayor said the decision was unanimous among the five council members. He said Yates’ knowledge of the region and the success he had in Temecula were among the reasons he was selected. Yates is expected to start the job Nov. 19 after the council finalizes terms of his contract in its Nov. 13 meeting, City Clerk Virginia Bloom said Wednesday. Details of the contract will not be released to the public until then, she said. Brady had been making $185,000 a year plus benefits when he was let go. Yates, 48, works for Temecula as its community relations director after having served as its deputy city manager. He was promoted to that position in 2006 after working as assistant to the city manager. He started with Temecula in 1991 in financial services, according to information provided by Lake Elsinore officials. Before coming to Temecula, Yates worked with the city of Carlsbad from 1987 to 1991 as its employment services manager. While those cities have their own set of attributes, Yates said Lake Elsinore, with its prized lake and reputation for extreme sports, has its unique attractions. The Lake Elsinore position opened up after the City Council voted 3-2 in March to oust Brady in a move that stirred up public unrest. While Brady was popular among many residents, council members Daryl Hickman, Melissa Melendez and Peter Weber voted to get rid of him, saying the city had failed to progress as quickly as it should have during his seven-year tenure. Tisdale and Councilman Bob Magee opposed the move, saying they believed Brady had done a good job of guiding the city through difficult economic circumstances. Following Brady’s departure, Lake, Parks and Recreation Director Pat Kilroy served as acting city manager until the council brought in former city of Riverside executive Tom Evans as interim city manager in late April.
Newburgh, New York (population 29,801): Four days after Newburgh City Manager Richard Herbek was stopped in his car with a woman he said was a heroin addict, he has quit, according to the Mid-Hudson News. Herbek told Mayor Judy Kennedy on Sunday that he was resigning. After the traffic stop last Wednesday, Herbek told MidHudsonNews.com that he was helping her kick the drug habit and that he was offering her counseling. The following day, Kennedy said Herbek would have decisions to make, but she did not elaborate. Herbek’s contract with the city was set to expire in January and there were mixed views by city council members as to if he should be re-upped.
Butts County, Georgia (population 23,655): After having served 10 months in the position on an interim basis, J. Michael Brewer was elevated to the role of county administrator on Monday, according to the Jackson Progress-Argus. Butts County commissioners made the appointment in a 4-1 vote during a special called meeting, with District 3 Commissioner Mike Patterson voting in opposition. The county administrator’s position had been vacant since the December 2011 departure of Alan E. White, who had held the job since 2009, simultaneously serving as director of the county’s development authority. He resigned both positions at the end of last year. Since White’s resignation, Brewer, who has been deputy county administrator since 2007, had been serving on an interim basis in the top job. The appointment Monday came after an hour of discussion among commissioners in a closed-door executive session, which Brewer was not a part of. In making the appointment, commissioners noted it was contingent on the county attorney’s review of Brewer’s proposed contract, a draft of which was not immediately made available Monday night. Brewer, 46, a Butts County native and a longtime county employee, noted before the Board of Commissioners retired for a second executive session that he had not yet agreed to the contract. Before making the motion to tap him for the top job, District 2 Commissioner Robert L. Henderson, Sr., said he’d been pleased with Brewer’s performance. After successfully blocking discussion of the county administrator’s position from being added to the commission’s agenda earlier this month, Patterson again on Monday attempted to block the appointment, offering a motion to table the discussion. The motion died for lack of a second. Patterson said he wanted 30 days to revisit the idea of a search committee to find candidates for the position, and to review Brewer’s proposed contract. He also openly questioned the existence of the proposed contract. Commission Chairman Roger McDaniel responded that the contract was a starting point for discussions. Contract negotiations had been a stumbling block with the county commission’s previous pick for county administrator. After naming a sole finalist for the job in January, officials ultimately were unable to reach a deal with the prospect. McDaniel said Monday that commissioners decided then to maintain the status quo for a while with Brewer as interim, in part to save money, but added that the workload “put us in a position we need to, sometime in the very near future, fill the position of administrator.” Commissioners also informally signaled approval of a plan McDaniel described to re-fill the vacant position of county controller, a position overseeing county finances and investments, rather than filling the position of deputy county administrator that Brewer would be vacating. District 4 Commissioner Keith Douglas, who seconded the motion to appoint Brewer, noted he’d also been happy with Brewer’s performance, and wished to move forward.
Morrisville, North Carolina (population 18,576): Town Manager John Whitson is leaving Morrisville after nine years at the helm of the town’s day-to-day operations, according to The Cary News. Whitson has accepted a job as city manager of Texarkana, Texas. While Whitson, 63, has received positive job-performance reviews and two pay raises in the past 12 months, Texas has a lure that Morrisville can’t offer: family and hometown roots. Whitson said he wants to be closer to his daughter, who lives in Oklahoma. And his new job is about 120 miles from his hometown of Soper, Okla. Since Whitson has more than 20 years of service in North Carolina, he is officially retiring from the state system. He started in the Forsyth County town of Lewisville in 1992 as the community’s first town manager. Whitson’s last day in Morrisville is Dec. 14. The council will hold a special meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the historic Christian Church to talk about the search for an interim manager. Since Whitson was hired in Morrisville in 2003, he has been credited with saving the town money through a water-sewer utility merger with Cary, and also expanding the town’s borders. Mayor Jackie Holcombe said Whitson’s leadership style has led to a culture of staff empowerment.
Washington, Illinois (population 15,134): Tim Gleason is Washington’s new city administrator, according to the Journal Star. City Council members Monday approved Gleason’s contract, which will pay him an annual salary of $98,000. His first day of employment will be Nov. 5. State law limits Gleason’s contract length to April 30, 2013, when Washington Mayor Gary Manier’s term expires. At that time, Gleason and the city can negotiate a contract renewal. Gleason replaces interim city administrator Bob Morris, who retired July 31. Morris retired as city administrator in June 2011 but returned to his former job on an interim basis in September 2011, one month after Richard Downey resigned following just seven weeks with the city. Downey would have been paid $100,000 annually. Gleason said he wasn’t concerned that he went into the city’s hiring process without city government experience. He has extensive experience in law enforcement. He was a member of the Pekin Police Department from 1989 to 2010, retiring as a lieutenant. Among his duties in Pekin were field training supervisor, firearms instructor, officer in charge of the Investigation Unit, and labor negotiator for Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 105. He’s been working in management for the state since leaving Pekin, most recently as head of the human resources and management operations divisions of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Development. Gleason earned a bachelor’s degree in management with a minor in labor from the University of Illinois at Springfield in 1995, and a master’s degree in public administration with a graduate certificate in collective bargaining from the university in 2007. He and his wife, Becky, live in Morton. They have five children, with daughters ages 8 and 17 still at home. While his new contract doesn’t require Gleason to move to Washington, he said he plans to do so.
Archuleta County, Colorado (population 12,084): Greg Schulte, Archuleta County administrator since 2008, has announced his resignation and move to a position in California, according to the Pagosa Springs Sun. Schulte said Nov. 16 will be his last day on the job for Archuleta County. He will take a position as assistant county administrator for San Luis Obispo County, in California. That county has 2,400 employees and a yearly budget just short of a half billion dollars. Schulte and his wife have a long relationship with San Luis Obispo, he said. Schulte attended high school and college in the area and he and his wife once resided there. Schulte said he believes he is leaving a county ready to face the future, on solid terms. Commission chair Clifford Lucero reacted to Schulte’s resignation, which the administrator delivered to the commissioners at a Tuesday meeting. Lucero said a process for selecting a replacement will be announced soon.
Reedsport, Oregon (population 4,154): Jonathan Wright, 39, started as city manager last week, a month after the City Council voted unanimously to offer him the job, according to News Right Today. He will receive an annual salary of $75,000, while working to turn around the economy of the 4,000-resident city. Wright has been a county administrative planner since 2005 and the county’s liaison to Reedsport since 2007. In addition to county government experience, Wright owns a construction business and served in the military.
Argyle, Texas (population 3,282): The Argyle Town Council named a town manager Tuesday and appointed Mayor Matt Smith to fulfill the town manager duties until that man starts next month, according to the Denton Record-Chronicle. The council named Charles West as town manager in a 3-2 vote. Smith said after negotiating a contract with West, the council is expected to finalize the hire Nov. 13. Smith said West will start in about 30 days. Despite pleas from council member Joey Hasty for unanimity, Bonny Haynes and Peggy Krueger voted against the appointment, saying a second applicant might have been a better fit for the town. During an executive session Tuesday, the council interviewed two applicants who were picked by a search firm as the most qualified for the position. Haynes said the second applicant, whose name was not released, had more experience as a town manager. Hasty made three motions for Haynes and Krueger to reconsider their votes in an attempt to produce a unanimous vote. Hasty said the council should be united in its decision to hire an official who will help make the town more efficient. Hasty said West is more than qualified, adding that the new manager will help get the town in order and that the town has lacked leadership since losing its town manager in the spring. During an Aug. 28 meeting, council members voted 3-2 to end the contract between the last interim town manager, Rod Hogan, before finding a replacement. Council members who voted for the termination said the interim town manager did not live up to the council’s expectations. Smith said Hogan’s termination was a sum of many issues he felt illustrated unsatisfactory leadership. Hogan was hired to replace former Town Manager Lyle Dresher, who resigned March 26 after five years on the job. After Hogan’s termination, Smith said he felt confident in town employees’ ability to manage their respective departments. However, since Dresher’s retirement and Hogan’s termination, council members have noted that town employees have been tasked with heavier loads. So, the council voted 3-2 to appoint Smith as interim town manager without pay. Council members Hasty, Joan Delashaw and David Wintermute voted for Smith’s appointment, while Haynes and Krueger voted against it. The council moved to open session to appoint Smith at about 5:20 p.m., despite the open session being scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Haynes described the appointment as a fox watching the hen house. Smith said the appointment was necessary because in the absence of a town manager he has been tasked with the responsibilities anyway. Town attorney Matthew Boyle said the appointment was appropriate because the mayor is the executive officer of the town and because he received a majority vote from the council. Boyle said the action did not give Smith the authority to act independently of the Town Council. A spokesman for the Texas attorney general’s office cited several points of law, including one that forbids a town from appointing a council member to a position like town manager, but he would not say whether he believed the town’s action Tuesday violated that law. It was not clear whether that law applied to Smith since he will be unpaid.
Lincoln, Maine (population 2,884): The town manager in Lincoln is out after only a few months on the job, according to the Bangor Daily News. The town council voted 6-0 at a special meeting Thursday night to terminate the contract of Bill Reed, who was still on his six-month probationary period after being hired in June. Councilors did not give a reason for firing Reed, but council chairman Steve Clay said it was not related to the recent discovery of some $1.5 million in accounting errors in the last two town budgets. Clay told the Bangor Daily News that Reed just wasn’t a good fit. Police Chief William Lawrence was appointed to serve as interim town manager until a permanent replacement is hired.
Cologne, Minnesota (population 1,519): After several months of closed meetings, during which Cologne City Administrator John Douville was placed on leave three separate times, the city council voted 4-1 to fire Douville during a meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 10, according to the Waconia Patriot. As evidenced by councilor Matt Lein’s vote against the termination, however, the decision was not unanimous, and Douville himself said he felt the actions taken by the council were inappropriate. Lein agreed, at least in part. A summary statement from the council listed 17 reasons for the termination of Douville, who had been employed with the city since 2004. Among them were ineffective working relationships with certain co-workers, engaging in retaliatory conduct against certain employees who complained about his conduct, and engaging in conduct that threatened, intimidated, or coerced other employees and a council member. Also included were a repeated refusal or failure to follow the city’s directives, substantially disregarding the city’s interests in performing job duties on several occasions, destruction of city property without the council’s consent, “questionable activities” involving a city-issued laptop, and a failure to provide administrative supervision to the council’s satisfaction. Douville disputed those findings. The expenses for the city to obtain legal guidance through the process, which included no fewer than nine closed meetings in August through October, have added up rapidly. The city budgeted $3,500 for legal expenses for this year, but has already paid $33,000 to the Melchert, Hubert and Sjodin law firm. Douville, however, said those expenses could have been avoided, or at least reduced. Without an administrator in place, Mayor Bernie Shambour said that city administrative workers will be under close supervision from the city’s personnel committee, consisting of Shambour, and councilor Jill Skaaland. While the end of the year can be a critical time with budget setting and the election this fall, Shambour said the city is in relatively good shape as the personnel committee prepares to recruit and interview applicants. At the council meeting Monday evening, however, Shambour acknowledged that he was a little nervous about setting water and sewer rates for 2013, something he said Douville was very good at during his eight-year tenure. Council members will work with remaining city staff to set those fees while the administrator search is underway. The council plans to check with the League of Minnesota Cities for candidates, as well as advertise locally. Shambour said it would be preferable to find a local candidate with knowledge of the area and the local culture. The objective of the personnel committee is to hire a new city administrator by the end of December. Lein said one of his reasons for voting against Douville’s termination was the shuffle that would ensue to make sure all the city’s needs were covered. The strain will be exacerbated by the recent departure of the city’s public utilities supervisor, a position the council is still working to fill. To help bridge the gap until new employees can be hired, the council approved an extension in working hours to remaining public works and office staff during the Monday meeting. Other considerations now on the minds of city officials and remaining employees include assembling a crew for snow plowing this winter and getting the city’s fall newsletter completed and sent to the production in time for distribution.