San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

August 5th, 2010
Council selects local Stroman Group for 60-day city manager search


Kay Stroman of The Stroman Group addresses the San Marcos City Council at Tuesday night’s city council meeting. Photo by Andy Sevilla.

Associate Editor

The San Marcos City Council gave the green light to a 60-day search for a new city manager who is scheduled to be announced on Oct. 1, just one month before a potential new city council majority is elected.

By a 5-2 vote Tuesday night, the council selected the Stroman Group, LLC, of San Marcos to conduct the executive search for two council appointed positions – city manager and city clerk. Councilmembers Gaylord Bose and John Thomaides voted in opposition to the $20,000 agreement.

Thomaides, who is running for mayor, called the two-month timeline stipulated in the contract “troubling” and said the search should be allowed to extend past the November election. Thomaides went on to say that the new city manager “may want to know who they’re working for and (working) with.” Therefore, Thomaides said, a new city manager selection should be reserved until after the election, which could sit up to four new members on the seven-member council.

Councilmember Kim Porterfield, who is running for re-election to her seat, echoed Thomaides’ discomfort with a quick executive search, but added that the “timeline doesn’t really matter if we (the council) don’t support a candidate.”

Porterfield said that her concern on the timeline was alleviated after Kay Stroman of the Stroman Group said she would continue an executive search past the 60-day deadline should the council not be content with any of the proposed city manager candidates.

“What’s the reason for the rush?” asked concerned San Marcos resident Steve Harvey. “We have very able leadership in our two assistant city managers.”

Outgoing San Marcos Mayor Susan Narvaiz said the city is not rushing a search for the two appointed positions. Narvaiz said the council agreed in executive session on a 60-day timeline.

“Many of us felt we needed to expedite the process prior to the election,” Narvaiz said.

Harvey also took issue because the city’s Request For Proposal (RFP) in the executive search was not posted online and the council did not go through a competitive bid process.

“This is not being conducted properly,” Harvey said. “Mayor and city council, you may find a lot of citizens call for you to answer for your action on this.”

Interim City Manager Laurie Moyer said the city sent the RFP to firms that have been researched by the city, specifically during the early 2008 city manager search that ended with Rick Menchaca starting with the city in May of that year. The council fired Menchaca this June 24 by a 4-3 vote.

Councilmember Chris Jones, who voted to approve the contract, said he was “troubled” with spending up to $22,500, including expenses, on the search for a new city manager and city clerk. Jones asked why city staff couldn’t conduct the search and save taxpayer dollars.

Moyer said that due to staff shortages, including a vacant human resource director position, “it would be very difficult for (city) staff to take on that task.”

Carolyn Liner retired this year from the city’s human resource department.

The city also opened the potential city manager pool by revising the candidate profile to include candidates without city administration experience. Narvaiz said the process was opened so that chief executive officers (CEOs) in the private sector and executives also could seek the city manager position.

The Stroman Group has no experience in placing city managers, though it has placed CEOs and top level executives in the private sector.

In his opposition to the 60-day timeline, Thomaides a longer process is warranted because worthy candidates could miss the opportunity due to summer vacation and travel. Thomaides added that qualified city managers already employed elsewhere would wish to provide 30 days notice to their present employers if they were to be hired by San Marcos.

According to the contract timeline, the city council will have a special meeting on Aug. 10 to receive an update on the development of a candidate profile. The city took public input on the profile during a session Wednesday night. The deadline to for citizens to include their input through the city’s website is Friday.

The city manager position is scheduled to be posted on Aug. 11 and closed at 5 p.m. on Sept. 2. The council will review candidates and receive a search update from the consultant during a Sept. 7 executive session.

City Manager candidate interviews and tours of the city are scheduled for the week of Sept. 13 for three to five potential candidates. The list will then be narrowed down to two candidates. After a public meet and greet session, the city council will make a selection during the week of Sept. 20.

The city clerk position will also be posted on Aug. 11 and closed at 5 p.m. on Sept. 2. Candidates will be interviewed during the week of Sept. 13 week, and the council will make a selection during the week of Sept. 20.

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48 thoughts on “Council selects local Stroman Group for 60-day city manager search

  1. Yo, SMCiCo: And how, again, did your preferred, if unusual, method work out LAST time, we ask again into the howling wind? I thought I heard the system failed in 18 months, as careful and candid as you were then. And cost a near lawsuit and a bucket of OPM.

    Charles Sims is a POSI graduate and highly successful entrepreneur/bidness man, as well as a REALLY bright civic fundamentalist who has lived 35 years with a big-league HR placement director (AMD) as talented as he is. Well, I grant that Dee may not have ever talked shop around the house. But still. NO City pulls this (well, maybe places like Cotulla or Uhland, wo have less range of choice. The better the city’s government, the more deliberate they are in staffing Appointees. Could there be a causative connection?

    San Marcos has been for over two decades THE place the really hot young to middle aged CM’s wanted to try for. We are a seller’s market among professionals in the field. And you know how those TCMA folks are: they swap gossip and dreams about where they’d LIKE to be, if asked. Positive AND negative gossip. Reckon what the pro’s–the potential candidates who won’t be invited to the dance because of your choices–think of us?

    If the job were offered to Laurie Moyer, would she be better or worse off for it? She does know it inside-out already. But I don’t see here as much of a lap-dog, so maybe just leave her out–her with her system engineering, years of experience, Public Manager Certification, and all.

  2. A simple Google search yields plenty of examples of how more open governments approach the task of selecting the search firm for City Manager position.

    Overland Park (KS), Kirkland (WA), Richland (WA), Friendswood (TX) and many more cities posted their City Manager search RFP online. Much of what I see in these documents from other cities appears to be sensibly written.

    Mesa, AZ even posted their search committee meeting minutes that explained their deliberation and selection of search firm for City Manager RFP. There are plenty more examples easily found online of how local governments are being open and honest with their citizens.

    Why is the Mayor and City Council being so secretive about the selection process for the search firm that will be tasked to find our next City Manager? Why are they making citizens file FOIA (Freedom Of Information Act) requests in order to eventually see the search RFP itself? Why did they deliberate on the RFP content and selection process behind closed doors? How did we come to select a person who has no experience searching for municipal leaders to be the search firm? How can we expect such a person to find the right candidate so much faster than true search firms experienced in filling municipal leader positions?

    Our Mayor and City Council are accountable to us the citizens of San Marcos. But, they are acting like we the citizens don’t need to know what’s going on here. This is not acceptable behavior by our city leaders.

  3. Kay’s background is in HR with Grande. She lit out on her own a few months back to do work like this, free from the confines of corporate oversight. Can’t blame her for that.

    Kay has been involved in the Chamber in various capacities through the years, so she know the town and hopefully its needs.

    Mostly, I’m just thankful that the job actually went to a local.

  4. Private sector CEO’s skills and experiences don’t translate well into the public sector. Private sector CEOs are accustomed to making decisions behind closed doors without the public looking over their shoulders. While the Mayor tried her best to bring that kind of management into City business, it is what has “undone” her in her most recent term. The citizenry won’t put up with that kind of management. They want not only to see what is going on (transparency), they want a great deal of input into the decision-making process. Those kinds of processes are not something a private sector CEO has ever had to manage.

  5. I attended the “City Open House” which was billed as an opportunity to give input on the selection of a City Manager. I misread the announcement so I thought I was going to actually attend a meeting. What it was, was a drop in and leave that lasted for an hour and a half. The host, or facilitator in government speak, was Kay Stroman. Mrs. Stroman is a local San Marcos resident. She is the contractor who has been hired by the City of San Marcos for $20,000 to “facilitate”, “organize” or screen resumes for the position of City manager and City Clerk. I was under the impression that the city council had hired a recruiting firm to look for another City Manager. Kay was very nice, polite and an obvious competent woman. She was the previous VP of Human Resources at Grande. Kay started her own business about six months ago and primarily works out of her house. According to Kay’s LinkedIn profile she engages in “Leadership coaching and consulting; connecting your human resources to the bottom line. Also, certified in administering and analyzing DISC behavioral assessments and providing associated training, coaching, teambuilding workshops; professional mediation services.”

    Kay is really what most HR types would call an Organization Specialist. There in lies my confusion with the City Manager hiring process. I had assumed that Kay would be a recruiter. Kay does not claim to be a recruiter and when I asked her about how she was going to source job applicants, she said she would attempt to call around and see who was available but that was not her primary job focus.

    I discussed with Kay, the number one recruiting principal for high profile jobs. The most qualified person for the job is often the person who does not apply for the job. I learned this principal from my wife who, until her recent retirement, was a senior level recruiter (read Head Hunter) for Advanced Micro Devices in Austin and California. She tells me that for directors, V-P and super grade electrical engineers, you spend a lot of time sourcing candidates. By sourcing she means finding applicants that are happy and successful in their current job. Look for the up and comer and next years super star and then sell them on your job offer. Or you should look for an very experienced and competent person who is ready to move on for what ever reason.

    As impressed as I was with Kay Stroman, I don’t think that is the job she has signed on for and apparently that is not the job the council wants her to do. None of my comments should be regarded as negative about Kay. She is going to do what she was hired to do and that does not seem that she has been directed to make a strong attempt to recruit a new city manager but rather take what we get in the in box and sort them for the Council. Kay did not get to be the HR director for Grande without a lot of talent but I suspect that she is being set up to be taken down the primrose path by some with an agenda to find something other than a strong city manager. It seems like the next time we need an organizational development and training consultant, we could do a lot worse that Kay and keep it local. But right now, I am uncomfortable with the whole hiring process. As Chris would say, just saying.

    I am some what disturbed by this approach to selecting a new city manager and city clerk. I can not imagine what the Mayor and Council are thinking. I would think that we would want to look for the best and brightest we could find but it appears that we are going to limit ourselves in the search. Plus, the whole thing is suppose to be over in about 55 days. When I owned my own business, I have spent more time than that looking for a staff accountant.

    Back to the open house. I left about 15 minutes before the end so I can not speak to anybody who came in after I left. Total, maybe 15 people wandered in, 20 tops. We all kind of set around the tables and visited about this and that. Attending was some of the usual suspects who already have strong opinions about how this process should play out. There were no city employees or elected officials in attendance, with the exception of a police officer who was monitoring the thing for the police union. We were each given a sheet with 4 questions such as “please briefly describe the perfect candidate for the position of City Manager, San Marcos, Texas”. I didn’t bother to fill out the questionnaire because I don’t really think anybody in City Hall really would give a damn about how I would have answered that question.

    I should have gone to this weeks City Council meeting. It sounds like you guys had a lot more fun than I did. We didn’t even get cookies and Kool-Aid.

    Charles Sims
    I attend the deadly dull meetings so you don’t have to.

  6. Otis, private sector CEOs, in publicly traded companies, are accountable to boards of directors, shareholders, various auditors, as well as employees. The good ones are VERY open about their actions and the reasons behind those actions. Some information is confidential for a period of time, but even that information is required to disclosed once decisions have been carried out.

  7. Which is not to say that private sector CEOs make good city managers. I have no idea, one way or the other. They don’t generally get to make major decisions unilaterally, behind closed doors and after the decisions have been made, they have to answer to a lot of different people for those decisions.

  8. Frank Benest of the International City/County Management Association, says, “With few exceptions, city governments don’t hire executives from the private sector. The reason for that is a basic difference in cultures that make private sector chiefs incompatible with running a public agency, and vice-versa.”

    Something doesn’t smell right here. Why the rush, and with a “search firm” that has little “search for hire” experience and has absolutely no search experience in the public sector? It makes some wonder if there is already a person waiting in the wings to be anointed into the City Manager position.

  9. Ted, my friend, we know about “good” CEO’s, don’t we? But the typical CEO is only as “good” as his/HER bosses.

    Steve, we also are getting aware of the “simple Google search,” which is a cure for nearly anything that itches one. But in real and objective-world terms, who bothers, when it is about such a mundane topic as Best Management Practices in local government? Normally, people who are either very bored or very angry. Usually, pale and bespectacled social isolates with messiah complexes and truth fixations (latent anger about personal past injuries?), it seems to me. Or OCD government purists. Or people who “have to do it for work.” For everyday use, it is more convenient to ignore, and more expedient to be able to do things one’s own way, however motivated, then just shout and repeat often that “these revolting things before you ARE BMP’s, Lester and Beryl, if you were only smart enough to understand.”

    That last approach is even better if you can work up some kind of background chorus, to hide the malignity of your motives– I like to think of the Supremes, or Martha’s VanDellas, though some people choose to see the chorus in Coke’s old “We Are The World” (1980’s ?) ad. Or you could just look at the highly available Karl Rove Handbook for Political Subversion and Total Mastery, or maybe “Practical Government for Dummies” (See Bush, GW; Perry, Treacherous Little Richard.). The easiest way may be to watch or listen to that masterful teacher/evangelist, Glen Beck–lighter, less filling, and with “great taste,” whatEVER you may take that to mean.

    Dano: Sorry, but one can be “active in the Chamber” (as I confess I was myself for many years) and never hear one damned word about Civil Service Law, regional government planning, or most of the technical stuff the TRAINED staff are strugglng with by the hour. That list is very long: municipal bonding practice; current issues in planning and development codes and enforcement (them danged BMP’s again–see above); the intricacy of Police management and practice; the City’s perspective on higher govt. rules and regs (maybe like watching the NYSE on LSD); or the balance between secrecy and open government, just to name a pet few. City Managing ain’t for amateurs, cowards, weaklings or cheerleaders, and the Search Group should be aware of that, and know the ground well. Sez I, with obnoxious regularity. SOUND GUMMINT IS ALIEN TO “GOOD BIDNESS!” They absolutely MUST LIVE in the same house, but Lord, please don’t let them breed! (See Jackson, Michael, “Thriller”)

  10. I must apologize with all my heart, to all who suffer me: At the very top of my David Letterman List of “ways in which government and management in Bidness, and government and management in Government, are radically different, is the Most permanent, Most fundamental, and Most indelible one. (Pull up those chairs a little closer, kids, and Uncle Remus will tell you a story.) TO WIT:

    1. Public (well, you can call it “private sector” Bidness Leadership, as we know, must be “responsible” or “accountable” to the shareholders, whose survival and whose happiness, prosperity, and willingness to invest, waxes and wanes. Those shareholders are important to the extent of their ownership in, and trust in, Management. The rights of the shareholders lies in the extent of one’s buy-in. That dynamic is exactly the same as in Public Government.

    2. Public Government Leadership is different in the most bedrock way. The recognition of it is the genius, the glory and the uniqueness of American Constitutional Government, our Holy Grail (not to bring in religion, which lives down the block.) American democracy makes just living here the ONLY qualification for shares. They are supposed to be “God-given” (I like to think, “ab initio,” or because it is MORAL.) and “inalienable” (can’t be changed or abolished or denied or sold out in Bankruptcy Court)

    3. Every soul in Public Government is a shareholder in equal standing, an “equity partner,” same as all the rest, no more, and no matter how deeply one may be invested, especially financially. One Cannot, by decree of the Prospectus and Papers of Incorporation, “corner the market,” or make the rules alone, or direct management to DO anything at all, unilaterally to do anything–that pesky “consent of the governed” thing. No matter how “important” one shareholder or group is or may become, the Strategic Plan, the Goals and Objectives, the “Financials,” and the everyday operation of the enterprise, must meet a simple litmus test: IS THIS OF, BY, AND FOR THE MAJORITY OF THE PEOPLE?

    We even INSIST by Law that our local “CEO’s” and Boards of Directors and their “management teams” to stand in public and swear a Holy Oath, before GOD (What? Him/Her/It again?) and an Officer of the Bench, to follow the rules laid out in the Incorporation Papers. Not just “kinda, sorta,” or as a “guideline,” but as an article of whichever Faith we choose and a Promise that is redeemable down at the jail. (A real radical might insist they do it under peril of a hanging, but that would be confusing, and subject to causing mistakes of judgment.)

    Conveniently, we “in and of and for” folks also ask that all the players keep their cards and their hands on the table, so the audience of shareholders can see clearly what is being done. (See “Steve,” above and elsewhere; also “Sims, Charles,” same.) No razzle-dazzle or distractions, no hidden stuff in the sleeves, no quick or sly moves, no consulting from the Peanut Gallery, no side bets at the table. Just an HONEST game.

    That is my own, best, and final explanation of why I get all churned up. Obviously, at every level of government, we have drifted from the Original Purpose, sometimes even warping the interpretation of that original purpose to fit our own ends. In terms of “the good of the whole,” people who do this are surely bound for Hell, if there is one. They also have the character of people who would molest their granddaughters, then whore them out to the neighbors.

    But then, I have always had strong opinions about this stuff. I think it matters most of all, for living with others.

  11. Just a couple quick things. A lot of folks are happy with what Michael Bloomberg has done in NYC. True he’s a mayor not a manager and the cities don’t compare but I think there are plenty of private sector CEO’s that could kick butt on your average trained city manager. I bet private sector fosters more of a meritocracy than public sector where there are far fewer “ball fields” on which to hone your skills. As to the International City/County Management Association, I imagine they are not unbiased. Of course they would want to protect their ranks from incursions by possibly more charismatic private sector executives.

    On another point, with the utmost respect Mayor Moore, brevity is the soul of wit.

  12. Plenty of folks are telling me that if we are serious about getting a quality city manager, then we should forget about the private sector CEO idea. As one person told me, “Other places have tried that, and every one of them that I’ve heard of have been dismal failures and even ended up in legal trouble.” There is probably a very good reason that “Business Administration” and “Public Administration” are separate degrees in separate schools.

    Too many things don’t add up here:

    * removing the requirement for public administration
    * selecting a “search firm” that has little to no search experience (and has absolutely no search experience in filling municipal leadership positions)
    * stipulating a 60-day timeline to select the new City Manager
    * requiring citizens to file FOIA request to see the search firm RFP (rather than simply posting it online)
    * shielding “behind closed doors” discussion by city leaders on the RFP content and search firm selection process (not placing it through an open competitive bid process)

    We deserve a good city manager with a proven track record of municipal leadership results especially in the areas of proper financial reporting, strategic planning, maintaining infrastructure/capacity, and staff relations.

    How in the world do our Mayor and City Council members think we can have confidence in their decisions in this matter when there are so many concerns with how they are launching the search itself?

  13. Bob, Mi hermano, (whispering, so’s not to disturb or embarr-ass anybody): The similarities between SM and New York are escaping me. I also am getting a tattoo that says, “COMPULSIVE BREVITY KILLS.” Not only the discourse, but any thinking that might go into it, and any understanding hat might come out of it.

    I would willingly kill in public, and suffer execution for, the Einstein that thought up today’s mantra: “If it don’t fit on a notecard or a bumper sticker, it prolly ain’t worth saying.”

    I loves me some bumper stickers, but there is a time and place–just like their Siamese twin, “Brand Labels.” I’m not so keen on demagogues and con-persons.

    Fire. Ready. Aim .

  14. Steve, if we really “deserve” something in government, and if we ARE supposedly the government, then why can’t we DEMAND the trifles we ALL deserve? (Though quietly, of course, as Jesus Might Have Done, so’s nobody gets hurt in the discussion.) That’s today’s Zen koan. As you may have noticed, I worry a lot about such simple things.

  15. Just one more, and I’ll go rent some pornos and buy a bunch of beer (can’t play golf):

    When one opens a “nutshell,” Grasshopper, what does one find, aside from maybe some “woims” (eeewww!)? That one is dedicated to Sarah Barracuda and the Glen B School for the Deficient. -31- as the news boys used to say. FIN.

  16. I would only add that, still not committing that a private sector CEO would be a good or bad choice, I certainly would not entertain notions of bringing in a CEO who had anything less than a strong track record of being good (great) as a CEO, so what the “typical” ones may or may not do, is of little importance to me, just as I don’t really care what the average city manager does, as I would like an exemplary one.

  17. Although I have a chihuahua-size dog in this hunt, and wish it were nonexistent, I suggest that all involved, including Ms. Stroman, find and read James Q. Wilson’s 1989 book Bureaucracy. In it Wilson explains differences in cultures of various forms of bureaucracy and does not disparage any. Each has a purpose and the book might shed useful light on Stroman’s and the city’s methodology for finding a new city manager. The most noteworthy error that I can recall from that book read by me some two decades ago was the placing of the food stamp program under the US Department of Agriculture. Hey, it seemed to make sense–USDA means food, food stamps means food, too, although the culture of dealing with farmers was quite different from the culture of dealing with the economically disadvantaged. It was a poor fit because the cultures did not match.

    That is not to say that the Stroman Group is not adequately talented enough to understand the difference in cultures of a corporate headhunter from a public service recruiter. But, there is a difference as an earlier contributor has noted. (My daughter was once a corporate headhunter.)

    Though not referenced in Wilson’s seminal volume, I would suggest to Ms. Stroman that any prospect who has sued a city on dismissal not survive the first cut. There appears to be a pattern, maybe an early on contrived one, in which city managers serve long enough to find where all of the bodies are buried, then create a minor circumstance to cause his or her firing, sue for that dismissal, and recover a massive settlement out of the view of the electorate because it was a private personnel matter. In my limitedly informed view, this was not the case of our city’s most recent firing, but it remains a precaution for future screening and hiring. Maybe, there are no bodies to be found here.

    Bureaucracy is a good book.

  18. And Bill Haney is a smart, wise, thoughtful ghost, still looking at the good of the whole community. I think.

  19. It don’t really matter who we hire as a city manager and city clerk if we have a Mayor who wants everything done their way or the highway. just look at how many high level city employees quit or forced to retire in the past 2 years.

  20. My liege, and madam, to expostulate

    What majesty should be, what duty is,

    What day is day, night night, and time is time,

    Were nothing but to waste night, day, and time;

    Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit,

    And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes,

    I will be brief. Your noble son is mad. . . .

    Hamlet (act 2, scene 2) – that would be Shakespeare’s Hamlet.
    And Shakespeare was using irony in the passages (plural) spoken by Polonius.
    Hamlet refers to Polonius as a “fishmonger.”
    Context is everything… Without which – little is truly understood.

  21. It’s pretty simple really.

    Regardless of any repeat charade to give the impression of a “selection process,”

    if we have already made the decision as to who will be awarded the City Manager’s position,

    but unfortunately, that “candidate” fails to meet the requirements and traditional standards,

    then just modify those requirements, and lower the standards, so that they now fit.

    Maybe no one will notice.

    That’s it.

    Oh, and rush it through.

    A smooth maneuver and a done deal.

  22. Using Ms. Strohman, a corporate head-hunter with no government experience, is also going to be frought with problems. Ms. Strohman, familiar with private sector practices can assure an applicant a high level of discretion as the applicant may not want everyone knowing they have applied for another job.

    There will come a time in the City Manager hiring process when the applicant pool will be subject to the “Open Record Act.” The press knows how to gain access to this information and at what point it has to be released. If an applicant needs discretion, how do they know that Ms. Strohman knows how to handle the “transparency” laws that government organizations are required to obey. I’ll bet she does not. No fault of hers, its just a different world than what she is accustomed to.

    Ted. I disagree. people who have been successful in private sector endeavors and risen to the top (CEO) typically are people who are used to making decisions on their own or with a small group of teammembers. They are frustrated with government processes that take too long and require a great deal of public input.

    The concept of a decisive aggressive CEO who can get things done is seductive, but they will become frustrated when the “bloggers” and the “speakers at Council meetings” and the neighborhood groups demand more transparency and public involvement in the decision-making process.

  23. The best CEOs surround themselves with capable decision-makers and empower them to act. Micro-managers are rarely successful leaders. CEOs are also required to maintain transparency and accountability. They are also required, before and/or after the fact, to build consensus for their decisions, if they want to last in their roles. Without consensus from the board of directors and ultimately the shareholders, they will be run out of town. Without consensus from below, their plans will not be carried out successfully.

    I am sure they could be frustrated with slow-moving bureaucracy. I don’t know that they would or would not make good city managers. I’m not disputing the potential incompatibilites, just pointing out that two of the biggest concerns raised recently – transparency and accountability, are second nature to good CEOs. Likewise, many of the complaints from employees of the former city manager are also issues that most good CEOs have learned to avoid.

  24. Also, rising to the top and succeeding at the top are two very different animals. Many CEOs get to the top and fail, horribly.

  25. There are also fundamental differences in funding a city, vs. funding a corporation.

    Like I said, I don’t know that a good CEO equals a good city manager, or that it doesn’t. I only know what I know. Which is just enough to be a danger to myself.


  26. Transparency??
    Like what we have witnessed recently on Wall Street?
    Or like the successful CEO of BP?
    Is that the kind of transparency to which you are referring?

  27. I don’t believe that the CEO of BP is one that I would consider good, or successful.

    As for Wall Street, that’s a convenient blanket statement for getting people nodding their heads. The problem there was isolated to a relatively small subset of the 9,000-ish publicly traded companies and the problem extended well beyond CEOs, right down to me and YOU. The public got greedy too and didn’t want to know what was going on. No amount of transparency was going to fix that. We all knew that adjustable-rate interest-only mortgages were a horrible idea, but that didn’t stop a bunch of people from getting them and a bunch of other people from investing in the companies who sold them. There was ample evidence that loans were going out to unqualified borrowers and that applications were being falsified, but we didn’t care. We blindly invested in credit default swaps, even though we didn’t understand them (and still don’t), because we saw other people getting rich and wanted a piece for ourselves.

    It was a giant ponzi scheme and we’re all culpable, because it could not have happened without all of us bringing our greed to the table.

    Meanwhile, our company, like many, weathered the recession (growing the whole time) and emerged with no debt, a pile of cash and a measurable increase in our workforce. We have had no scandals. We have no concerns about our investments, our accounting practices, or anything else.

    Frankly, if you think the CEO of BP, or any of those other giants, is ever going to apply for a position as the city manager of San Marcos, you’re out of your mind anyway. There are probably plenty of CEOs from small, successful companies, who might.


    The whole search process so far seems to be being handled in a very secretive, unprofessional manner, beginning with a very rushed RFP process (actually it seems as though no acceptable process was followed). The RFP process was so rushed that I doubt that any really qualified firms applied (firms that specialize in public entity hiring – especially hiring of City Managers). Why is the information regarding the RFPs and names of the firms that submitted RFP’s being withheld from the public and why was the firm selected in executive session?

    I don’t understand why the October 1st deadline for hiring a City Manager – generally a search of this type requires 4 to 6 months. Why the rush to hire before the November election? I agree with Councilman Thomaides that the City Manager applicants would want to know who will be on the Council with whom they will be working. .

    In researching “Hiring a City Manager” online I found that hiring a City Manager should be a specialzed search conducted by a professional search firm. I doubt there will be many applicants beating down the doors of City Hall, with the exception of Kyle’s former City Manager who was recently fired by the Kyle City Council. Would the San Marcos Council seriosly consider hiring a “castoff” from a much smaller, neighboring city? Addtionally I found that generally individuals interested in applying for City Manager positions, do not rush to submit an application to an unknown search firm nor direcltly to the City. A search firm that specializes in hiring City Managers has knowledge of current city managers who might be interested in applying for a particular city manager position and the search firm would also know who might be a good fit. Especially in these tough economic times, no one is going to put their current job on the line by rushing to apply for a position in another city. Councils do not appreciate knowing that their City Manager is seeking greener pastures (unless, of course, they want to be rid of him/her and would be very happy to supply a glowing recommendation). Most City Managers would fear losing their current job.

    By continuing on the path our City Council has chosen, I fear that most currently employed city managers are being excluded before the process begins. I certainly hope that the Council would not consider hiring a person with no prior city management experience, it almost looks like that is where this is headed. Does the Council already have someone “waiting in the wings”? Surely this Council would not consider hiring a certain Mayor who has decided not to run for reelection. What a disaster that would be!!

    Since there seems to be many more questions than answers surrounding hiring the City of San Marcos’ next City Manager, I sincerely hope the City Council will reconsider the path they have chosen. Please reconsider the seemingly inexperienced search firm you have hired and rethink rushing the whole hiring process with a deadline of October 1st. I urge you to slow down, take a deep breath and don’t make the mistake of replacing the former city manager with someone even less effective.



    Dano – hiring a local frm should NOT be the most important criteria for hiring a search firm to assist in the hiring of the City’s next city manager!!!

  29. Honestly, I can’t believe I even spent that much time on my reply. Would you allow me to cite Bell County and various other political scandals and bankrupt municipalities as evidence that people with municiple backgrounds are corrupt and bankrupt cities?

    No. Of course not. both are examples of hasty generalization and hold no water.

  30. “There are probably plenty of CEOs from small, successful companies, who might.”

    We will have the CEO that Mayor Susan has already selected.

  31. If so, that’s a whole different issue. I would venture that whether it is a CEO, or a seasoned city manager, or anyone else, if s/he has not been properly vetted, our odds of success are about the same.

  32. B. Franklin, do you know something that I don’t? Is someone already being considered for this position? I mean, I heard this rumor that sounded soo ridiculous that I banged my head into the wall to make sure I wasn’t having a nightmare. Turns out I was awake, but the blow must have jostled my brain and reinstated my sense of humor, because I walked away laughing & thinking o.k. sure it was a joke. But now you seem to be alluding to this nightmarish joke. Say it ain’t so, say it ain’t so!

  33. It’s spilled.

    Monitor and take charge of the (ALREADY tainted and convoluted) process with intense scrutiny,

    and insure with the utmost certainty, an outcome that reflects the best interests of the community.

    Or just see who winds up in the position,

    and then backtrack to see exactly what happened,

    and where we went wrong (again).

  34. I received a copy of the search RFP today, and I am truly embarrassed for our city. Compared to other City Manager search RFP’s I read online this week, issued by other cities across the country, our search RFP is sorely lacking in a number of areas.

    The actual document (issued by the City of San Marcos for the City Manager search RFP) is 6 pages long. The first page is the complete RFP, and the other 5 pages are a copy of what the most recent search firm issued to prospective candidates.

    I am astonished to see our city leaders simply issue a 1 page RFP (accompanied by a “here is how the last people did it” 5 page attachment) for such an important position.

    In comparison, and for example, Overland Park (KS) issued a 20-page search RFP (for City Manager) that looks much more like what I would expect for such an important RFP. It only took a few minutes to Google find a number of City Manager search firm RFP examples.

    I am very disappointed our Mayor and City Council are treating this matter in this manner. It does not seem right.

  35. Lila, despite being often obscure, like me, you do bring a lot of class to the discussion–and your point is not only right on the money, but well taken.

    Others, you make me proud to live here–but then, I sort of always have been–(duh? It’s why I have stayed here.) You remind me of animals–grizzlies, who use their considerable gifts and alertness to find food and protect their young; as opposed to buzzards, who use their wings and keen eyesight to sight fresh roadkill and who will crap on anything, might ever EAT their young, in a pinch. Also not like jackals, who hang around until nobody is looking, then fight over the spoils.

    But to switch away from my daily nature meditation and go back to Lila’s level. I am always reminded of Chaucer’s “Pardoner’s Tale,” a universally true and fundamental story about three guys who try to see who gets the treasure, and wind up all dead. The moral, which might be a good City slogan or catch-phrase: “Radix malorum est cupiditas.” For those in the cheap seats, he was saying, “The love of money is the root of all evil.” We KNOW that. I hope. To put it in that other popular context, which supersedes politics, yet has relevance, one might check out the “red words” in the (Christians only!) New Testament book of Ephesians, where Jesus speaks of how to deal with economic issues between the rich and the poor, and human equality.

  36. B. Franklin, Not exactly what I meant by you knowing something that I don’t, but fair enough. I guess you have no idea what I know considering the autonomy of the this world wide web we’re caught in. I gathered from your comments that you knew of a name that was being considered for the job. I’ve heard one, but again it’s only a rumor, and those hold as much weight as opinions in a village of this size.

  37. “and those hold as much weight as opinions in a village of this size.”

    And many times the truth,

    holds no weight,


  38. You guys are OK. But I want to see opinions here from the “wannabes”–the bridesmaids hoping to become brides. That might be more useful to everybody than any opinions we troublemakers have.

    Just to pick one, who may have a big role in our future–who may actually become the BRIDE: Daniel? You have been mighty quiet. We have a pretty good idea where your opponent, John T., stands. Give us something to make choices from. We are, after all, just curious. (Never mind, Mr. Prather, you’ve already given us a pretty good idea. We get it.)

  39. Betty: Shhhh, please. I’m trying to sleep here, and others may be, too. A little consideration?

  40. “WAKE UP CITY COUNCIL!!!!!!! ”

    They’re wide awake Betty.

    Three them at least, are following their implicit instructions to the letter.

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