Thursday, May 12, 2011

The big news from Tuesday's commission meeting is that Bob Pushkin is retiring, planning on leaving his position as North Bay Village city manager on June 14. This presents the city with an opportunity to bring in a fresh approach to the many problems facing our city.

The city manager is our main executive officer, reporting to the commission, and as such is responsible for every aspect of the city government. She or he has far more power than the commission in a strong city manager-weak government form. Our charter specifically spells out the qualifications as someone who is

"a graduate of either an accredited school of public administration or its related equivalent in engineering, fiscal management or business administration with no less than three (3) years' experience in the administration of local government or in lieu of the foregoing, he must have not less than five (5) years' experience in the administration of local government."

and this matters a great deal. For more information on the city manager and the charter, Article IV (4 for those of us who prefer Arabic numerals) of the Charter is available at www.municode.com. Enter the search term Article IV.

I have written before that if we do things the right way, we do the right things and we are at such a decision point now. The job of city manager is complex and demands skill in financial, administrative, management and political arenas. Selecting the manager is going to be an arduous and difficult process.

Regular readers will remember that one of the demands of North Bay Village Voice is to put together a properly constituted employment committee for non union hires. That this demand has gone unaddressed is symptomatic of the problems facing the city.

This is too important. There needs to be a properly constituted committee comprising citizens and North Bay Village government employees, preferably none who report directly to the city manager although that will be difficult to get, who will evaluate the applicants, understand the position and insofar as possible make a recommendation for the top three candidates. Their meetings should be public, subject to Sunshine, and follow established procedures.

For this to pass, it will need the support of Commissioners Lim-Kreps and Vogel. All three have publicly stated that they see anyone questioning the current city manager as divisive and disrespectful. Kreps herself tried to ram through a contract for the current city manager without a review, a search or even simple performance measures.

It's too important to let this be done in the dark. Let's let our commissioners loudly and clearly know that we, the citizens, expect to be involved in the process. It's our city.

Kevin Vericker
April 12, 2011

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