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

August 17th, 2010
City manager search runs short of time, exposure [PRO]


Left side: Kay Stroman of Stroman Group, the consultant conducting the city manager search for San Marcos. Right side: San Marcos Interim City Manager Laurie Moyer, left, and Mayor Susan Narvaiz. File photos.


Associate Editor

As the sands quickly run down on the San Marcos’ 60-day search for a new city manager, the search also appears to have been narrowed by a lack of exposure to government professionals. Several governmental job posting websites where the city had said it would advertise the position have yet to post the city vacancy.

The Texas Municipal League (TML) website shows the posting since Aug. 13, effectively affording aspirants to the city’s top administrative job a 21-day window to apply for the position before the Sept. 2 deadline. No other such website that had been specified by the city’s search firm last week has posted the opening for the lead administrative position in San Marcos.

Kay Stroman of the Stroman Group, which was selected to conduct the city’s executive search, said during an Aug. 10 special city council meeting that the city manager position would be advertised online in several websites by Aug. 11. Among those websites were those of the Texas City Management Association, American Public Works Association, Government Jobs, and the International City/County Management Association. As of Monday, the posting had not appeared on any of those sites.

The first sighting of the open city manager position was on the city’s own website on Aug. 12, one day late, according to Stroman’s deadline.

Several San Marcos residents, including some councilmembers, have voiced dismay with a 60-day timeline geared toward naming the next city manager by Oct. 1, one month before a city election that could potentially sit four new councilmembers.

Contacted Monday, Stroman would not say why the posting had not appeared at the previously mentioned venues for advertising to government professionals. Stroman did say the ad would appear on other sites that she hadn’t previously specified, but added that she did not have those names in front of her.

Later, Stroman said she is prohibited in her contract with the city from talking to the press. Her contract says she is to refer all media requests to the city.

The city manager profile now requires at least seven years of municipal government experience after Stroman said several residents urged that the candidates have city government backgrounds. The Request For Proposal (RFP) sent out by the city did not limit candidates to city government backgrounds and encouraged private sector administrators to apply.

Though the posting requires government experience, it says the city prefers (though it does not require) previous service as a city manager or assistant city manager. It also requires a bachelor’s degree in business, public administration, political science, or a related field, and it states a preference of a master’s of business administration, public administration or a related field.

“The ideal candidate will possess a record of accomplishment and success in economic and community development projects, including a demonstrated understanding of growth management in support of environmental, social and economic sustainability,” states the city manager profile. “The candidate’s background and experience will include exposure to all aspects of a full-service city, the capacity to understand municipal issues on a technical level and the ability to convey them to city council, staff and citizens in a concise, articulate manner. The City Manager will have demonstrated experience in strategic planning, budget management and ED (economic development) financing strategies, including directing and coordinating activities consistent with goals, objectives and policies established to achieve the City’s strategic plans.”

The profile also indicates the need for positive town and gown relations, as well as a candidate with demonstrated leadership qualities, communication and team-building skills.

“(The city manager) will set a positive example of competence, professionalism, compassion, transparency, ethics, and integrity to the organization and the community,” states the profile.

The candidate’s salary is set at a starting range commensurate with experience, which is to include a comprehensive package of senior level benefits.

Former City Manager Rick Menchaca was fired by a 4-3 vote in June. His salary was at $170,000, plus benefits. The city council named Laurie Moyer as the interim city manager.

City council is scheduled to name a city manager and city clerk during the week of Sept. 20.

The city clerk position became available after Sherry Mashburn took a position with the city of College Station and began her duties there on Monday.

Stroman’s contract with the city.

(Editor’s Note: The above has been revised to say that the city manager profile requires municipal government experience, but prefers, rather than requires, experience as a city manager or assistant city manager.)

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33 thoughts on “City manager search runs short of time, exposure [PRO]

  1. The 60 days should start *after* the posting has appeared in every single website or publish cation that Stroman listed as a resource.

  2. Honestly, San Marcos. This is bush league, an embarrassment. Reset your timeline and execute this search correctly.

    And, if I may respectfully suggest, augment your search team with someone who has experience with headhunting for these kinds of roles. As fashionable as it is these days to believe only private company executives are capable of running anything, the truth is that the most qualified candidates may, in fact, have city government experience.

    And I love Ms. Stroman’s response: The ad is posted on other sites, but I can’t tell you what they are. And don’t call me again.


  3. The posting was just put up on Texas City Management Association (it was not there a couple of hours ago), the post date on the ICMA website is dated 8/16, with the closing date of 9/2. All of the other TX job postings on ICMA have a closing date of N/A, except the Asst. Dir of library support services in Austin which had a window of 27 days from posting to close. So, other cities are using an “until filled” approach on the ICMA website, but we are giving a shorter window than Austin’s librarian search. Great, sounds like we are getting our 20K worth. The other website required registration, so I did not check that this morning.

  4. what a sham. she (stroman) is to receive, inside of 60 days, what many in this town would like to make in 3/4s of a year.

  5. FYI – Heard a rumor two days ago. A friend of a friend who works at city hall has over heard conversations that our mayor does want the job. This would all make sense then, don’t ya think?

  6. Public Officials often believe that their discussions with a “search firm” or consultant are confidential under the Texas Open Meetings Act (“TOMA”). Certain legal advice says they are not. When the Mayor and City Council met in Executive Sessions to discuss how to select a search firm, or the ingredients in the RFP, it turns out neither of those matters are eligible for confidential discussion, beyond the possibility of getting the City attorney’s legal advice about those matters.

    I will be filing a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain the transcripts from the July 20, July 28, and August 3 Executive Sessions on their “Deliberation regarding City Manager vacancy” as it pertains to the ingredients of the search RFP along with selection of the search firm itself.

    The public has a right to know what our Mayor and City Council are doing behind secret closed doors as it pertains to the search for our new City Manager.

  7. City agrees to pay Consultant a fixed fee of $20,000 for both positions as follows:

    Contract Execution: $6,666.67
    Presentation of Final Candidates for City Manager position $6,666.67
    Hiring of Candidates for both Positions: $6,666.66

    To facilitate the process outlined by the Consultant, Mayor Susan Narvaiz shall serve as the
    City’s point of contact. Consultant shall forward to City any request from the media or others for
    information about candidates or the selection process and City will make an appropriate

  8. Well, just give me a big ol’ “wedgie”! I never would have guessed. Nor would I have guessed whom the Mayor would select as the actual Chair of the Search Team. I did suspect it might be one who wouldn’t know a qualified City Manager (in fact, the actual HEAD of our Government, by our Charter) if one bit him/her on the nose. My. Oh. My.

  9. I’m reminded of when Richard “Dick” Cheney headed the search for ole’ W’s runnin’ mate, and found that he was the best man for the job. How brazen it would be, but please, say it ain’t so, please.

    Isn’t it true that she doesn’t have a college degree? That might not matter, and I actually would argue so, when one wishes to sit in the high chair, but for a managerial position? Aren’t their educational standards.

    This was also a rumor that I heard some time ago but I thought of it too ridiculous to be true. Please pinch me, or punch me, or shoot me, or something!!!!

  10. I was told by a friend that to qualify for city manager position in San Marcos you have to have a minimum of a masters degree. any one have any idea?

  11. “Interested candidates shall possess a Bachelor’s degree in Business,
    Public Administration, Political Science or related field from an
    accredited college or university. Possession of a MBA or Master’s
    Degree in Public Administration, or related field is preferred. Seven to
    ten years progressively responsible municipal government experience,
    with prior service as a City Manager or Assistant/Deputy City
    Manager, preferred.
    The ideal candidate will possess a record of accomplishment and success in economic and community
    development projects including a demonstrated understanding of growth management in support of
    environmental, social and economic sustainability. The candidate’s background and experience will include
    exposure to all aspects of a full-service city, the capacity to understand municipal issues on a technical level and
    the ability to convey them to City Council, staff and citizens in a concise, articulate manner. The City Manager
    will have demonstrated experience in strategic planning, budget management and ED financing strategies,
    including directing and coordinating activities consistent with goals, objectives and policies established to
    achieve the City’s strategic plans. San Marcos is a robust community complimented by a large university. The
    selected candidate will have experience nurturing a positive “town and gown” relationship between the two
    communities. The chosen candidate will also have a track record of effective relationship building among the
    city, other government entities and constituent groups for the overall benefit of the San Marcos community…”

    from our city webpage. sounds very vague and feel-goodish..IMO

  12. Hasn’t Tom Mattis (recent ex kyle city manager) expressed his interest in this position. I am wondering why we haven’t heard about him lately, and it would be a shame if our council didn’t consider him.

  13. The RFP apparently leaves off “Must remember he/she is merely a functionary of the Mayor and Council, despite what the City Charter may say.” And that seems to be a BIG one. Maybe why Mattis’s name has not emerged. (?) I just work here.

  14. Executive Sessions scheduled for Tuesday (9/14) at 1pm and Wednesday (9/15) at 7:15am. But, the search firm contract timetable says:
    – week of Sep 13: () candidate interviews and tour of the city
    – week of Sep 20: () public meet & greet with top candidates
    – week of Sep 20: () City Council makes selection
    – October 1: () announce City Manager finalist
    Some people wonder if maybe the Mayor and City Council are rushing even faster than planned, in order to hire the former CM of Kyle, or to hire Susan herself. Well, that’s what some people wonder.

  15. Interesting to note Wednesday’s Executive Session is scheduled for over four hours in the morning and then picks right back up in the afternoon. And, yet, the agenda just says they are deliberating about the City Manager vacancy. That’s a lot of Executive Session time this week cloaked behind vague agenda description.

  16. Surely somebody on City Council can be more forthcoming on what is going on in the multiple hours and days of Executive Sessions this week. Citizens deserve better than to have our elected leaders hide behind a vague “deliberating regarding City Manager vacancy” platitude.

  17. Just recall the near-flawless axiom that whoever convenes the meeting and sets the agenda, with enough force of purpose, can virtually declare the outcome, just by shaving points off incompatible views and being very forceful–using the prerogative of the chair. The Number 2 committee person is the one to watch for any changes in or creation of an actual and coherent process for qualifying the best. Otherwise, somebody get out the rubber stamps. Very short sessions communicate disaster in the making.

    Tram spirit and pliability are likely to earn bonus points, along with aggressiveness to “take us up another level.” Skill and foresight are too hard to diagnose in a short time. Integrity b\means speaking in the correct way, then only when spoken to.

    Why on earth would the citizens, the Charter and custom pay one a $1/4 M salary rife with benefits to walk behind an admitted part-timer and amateur and nod like a bobble-head? Why would a pro submit to that?

  18. I don’t understand why one of the most important decisions this sitting Council will make has to be so secretive in the process. The Mayor and City Council Members won’t even say why they need multiple Executive Sessions this week, beyond their “deliberating regarding City Manager” cloak. Even when topics are justified to be in Executive Session (and I am not saying all the discussions this week are appropriate for secret closed doors dialog), the Mayor and City Council Members can and should be more specific in the agenda. For example, if they are interviewing City Manager candidates this week, they should tell us that in the Executive Session agenda.

  19. shh! don’t tell anyone. This is just between you and me, OK.

    The council is going to interview a couple of people on Tuesday and then Wed. morning they are going to interview a few more. They are coming back (in executive session of course) in the afternoon where Susan is going to tell the council who the top candidate is going to be. The Council will get to pick the second choice so we can have a show and tell with a public reception for the two candidate. I kind of feel sorry for the second choice because he/she is going to think they actually have a shot at the job and will have to go through the whole public ordeal. The first candidate will be announcement in the next meeting as the new City Manager. It is probably going to be the ex city manager of Round Rock. He is Susan’s guy. His name is Jim Nuse and he is “retiring” from the City of Round Rock. Of interest, the marketing logo for the City of Round Rock is Purpose. Passion. Prosperity. If that isn’t pretty. near. perfect. I don’t know what is.

    Remember,don’t tell anybody, it’s our little secret.

  20. This is very disturbing to hear.

    Round Rock is the antithesis of what we want for San Marcos. Round Rock has the reputation as the place where businesses and developers pretty much have the run of the town. They have been known as a “get it done” kind of place, where agreement with the City Manager means whatever initiative will be pushed through.

    When people talk about what kind of community San Marcos wants to become, I have actually painted the picture of Round Rock as what we do NOT want to be. Seriously.

    I wonder if this is why the City has been slow to respond to my Information Request for them to identify the City Manager candidates?

    I have been informed by some legal counsel that once the candidates are presented to the City Council (which we believe took place over a week ago), then it is public information, and the citizens have a right to know.

    Why do our Mayor and City Council Members continue to operate with so much secrecy behind closed doors?

  21. Jim Nuse for City Manager? I hope more people strongly tell our Mayor and City Council that we do NOT want to become another Round Rock! Talk about our Mayor and City Council Members wanting to leave a legacy…

  22. With the City Council interviewing City Manager candidates today and tomorrow, we deserve a more open process. The City is stalling releasing the names of the top pool of candidates, even though they were determined over a week ago. Open processes produce better results. Citizens should have the opportunity to know more about what is going on, while it is happening, rather than after the fact. And we should be able to participate in a meaningful manner. Why the rush, why the secrecy, why the strong push to commercialize San Marcos?

  23. Not that I know anyone with the time, off the top of my head, but couldn’t one just camp out in one of those comfy chairs at City Hall, and wait to see what familiar faces (if any) show up for the executive sessions? Maybe introduce him/herself and have a friendly exchange of business cards?

    I mean, if someone wanted to do some investigative journalism…

  24. Other cities have an open process on selecting their City Manager. For example, Loveland (CO) posted a complete schedule of when which candidates were being interviewed. Edina (MN) conducted their interviews with public observation real-time and even posted the interviewing on-line for others to view. The City of Cape Coral (FL) released their candidate evaluation form with ranking methodology.

    I wonder if we got enough qualified candidates to consider in the first place. Maybe that is why our Mayor and City Council Members are being so secretive?

    Last time around, I heard we had over 85 applicants. Our Mayor and City Council are accountable to us the citizens and stakeholders 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.

  25. What a shame the City is playing games with us. The pool of candidates for City Manager was (probably) presented in Executive Session on Monday a week ago (9/6). The Mayor and City Council Members (probably) interviewed some of the City Manager candidates today (9/14). They (probably) will interview the rest of them tomorrow (9/15).

    Yet, my information request filed last week for the names and profiles of the top candidates (which is public record once presented) has been merely “acknowledged” and they will “let me know” when the response is (good and) ready.

    In contrast, for example, the Jackson (MI) City Council released the names of their top four City Manager candidates the day it was determined (6/15). And, Scottsdale (AZ) interviewed their top three City Manager candidates in public (4/30).

    Many (most, if not all) cities require the top candidates to submit a written response to a list of say top 10-15 questions. Some cities even release a copy of the responses to the public. Our City of San Marcos, who knows, the process is so shrouded in secrecy.

    Yes, there are some other cities who suffer the same secretive leadership syndrome. The City of Aurora (CO) was called to task in a 9/1 editorial by the local newspaper. They stated that the public’s business must be conducted transparently:

    “There are few exceptions to that touchstone in Colorado law, and they’re well detailed. City council is permitted to meet in secret to discuss issues about real estate transactions, to get advice from their attorney about pending litigation, to discuss the terms of a contract that would put the city at a disadvantage should their bargaining position be revealed, and to address issues regarding some city employees.”

    Like the City of Aurora, our City Leaders are (incorrectly) hiding behind the “personnel” aspect of the Texas Open Meetings Act (“TOMA”). Sometimes I wonder what kind of TOMA training our Mayor and City Council Members attended, and how long ago their training took place. Was it something they rented from Blockbuster? Like those defensive driving comedy routines?

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