The Oakley City Council meeting on Tuesday night has an item (5.3) that involves selecting an executive search firm to assist in the selection process for a new City Manager. I am greatly disturbed by two of the search proposals. The two firms state they will make available all candidates who apply in a public list (although they might “spin it” as confidential). If the council does not approve of the firm’s recommendations, the council can choose any candidate who applied to the new City Manager position. I have not heard of such an arrangement in the years I have been involved in public executive searches.

            In my perspective, the arrangement is a method of circumventing the “spirit” of the selection process. We are aware that Mayor Higgins, and Vice-Mayor Pope, with the sanctioning of City Attorney Cole, went rogue, at least in my perspective, and selected Joshua McMurray as Interim City Manager before consulting with all of the remaining council members. There is little doubt in my mind that both persons have a preconceived idea that Mr. McMurray will be the new City Manager, especially Vice-Mayor Pope.

            So, if Mr. McMurray is not a finalist candidate for the City Manager, City Council Members can reject all final candidates. Then certain Council Members can “reach down the list,” find Mr. McMurray’s name and pull it “to the top” with the intent of placing Mr. McMurray in the City Manager position regardless of the circumstances.

The executive search intends to find the best candidate on a nationwide search basis. Maybe it is Mr. McMurray; perhaps it is not. Mr. McMurray certainly is allowed to apply for the position, but the City is entitled to “the best.”

            I favor the one firm, Avery, that does not conduct itself in the above manner. Avery is considered “one of the most professional search teams” in California and the United States.

George Fuller, MPA, MA
   City Councilmember, City of Oakley 

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