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City manager search stalled

Sacramento City Council file photo.

The city’s search for a new city manager has been delayed for weeks, according to the consultant leading the search.

The exact reasons for the delay are unclear, but a discussion at Tuesday’s City Council meeting indicated that the delay involves miscommunication between the City Council, City Attorney Eileen Teichert, city Human Resources Manager Geri Hamby and the consultant, Stuart Satow, an executive recruiter for CPS Human Resource Services.

Council members had been scheduled to tell Satow their opinions on city manager characteristics Feb. 22, but decided then that they didn’t want to have that discussion at that meeting.

Satow said Tuesday that he has not yet received direction from the City Council members and mayor about the qualities they want in a city manager.

“We’re not too far behind the eight ball, yet,” Satow told the City Council. “But the longer we wait, the further back the recruitment’s going to go, and the later you’re going to have candidates for consideration.”

An issue related to the delay is how the City Council can discuss the qualifications for the next city manager in a way that follows the Brown Act, the public meetings law aimed at making local government meetings transparent to the public. 

Teichert said Tuesday it would be legally appropriate for Satow to meet individually with council members to ask them about the qualifications they are seeking in a city manager.

At the Feb. 22 City Council meeting, Teichert discouraged the council from meeting in a closed session on the topic of the qualities they seek in city manager, saying the topic didn’t meet legal requirements for a closed meeting. She said that closed sessions are allowed to protect the privacy of particular employees. A closed meeting on qualifications for a city manager does not meet that standard, according to Teichert.

Councilman Steve Cohn said he disagreed with Teichert’s opinion on the matter, but he added that he would follow it. He said he had liked the idea of the City Council meeting to discuss the qualifications in a closed session and then making the input public.

Councilman Darrell Fong indicated it was not his fault that he has not yet provided information on the qualities he seeks in a city manager.

“I’ve never been contacted at all,” he said.

But Hamby responded that she had sent three communications to the mayor and City Council about how the consultant needed more information.

The council members decided to talk to Satow individually about the elements they’re seeking in a city manager.

Interim City Manager Gus Vina’s term ends in late June

Kathleen Haley is a staff reporter for The Sacramento Press. 

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