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Manager candidate list to be narrowed at special meeting

By Staff | May 25, 2010

City manager hopeful Tom Leipold was removed from the list of potential candidates Monday, as the Cape Coral City Council voted to stick with the names listed by the Human Resources Department as being qualified for the job.
The next task will be to whittle the remaining 14 names down to a more manageable number, which council plans to do at a special meeting on Wednesday, June 2.
The removal of Leipold led to a battle, of sorts, between Councilmembers Pete Brandt and Kevin McGrail.
Brandt bumped Leipold to qualified status last Monday, saying his experience and expertise in finance far outweighed his lack of a masters degree, an advertised minimum qualification for the job.
McGrail cited Brandt and Leipold’s friendship as an additional reason not to include Leipold in the list of qualified candidates, adding that Leipold’s inclusion would open a “Pandora’s box” of potential problems for council, and the city.
“I believe it’s turning our city manager (position) into an experiment, and I’m not willing to do that,” McGrail said.
Admitting his friendship with Leipold, Brandt said he has other friends on the list of qualified candidates for the job. He added that Leipold was one of the most qualified applicants on the list.
It was recently discovered that Leipold, who listed a masters degree in hypnotherapy on his resume, received that degree from a discredited university.
Despite that, Brandt said a master’s degree was not important in his view of what makes a person successful, citing Bill Gates as an example. Brandt added that Gates lacked even a bachelor’s degree.
Regarding Leipold, Brandt said, “If he’s not the best, he’s one of the best qualified candidates on the list … the experience this man has far outweighs the time spent on a master’s degree.”
Fearing that it would open the city up to potential lawsuits, Councilmember Chris Chulakes-Leetz also wondered if the inclusion of Leipold created a lack of faith in the banding process used by Human Resources staff.
Also, Chulakes-Leetz said he didn’t feel comfortable narrowing down the candidate list, saying he didn’t have sufficient time to read and digest candidates’ answers to the essay questions sent last week.
He added that he has not been relying on his speed reading ability to go over the essay answers, instead taking the time to read them thoroughly and efficiently.
“Tonight is premature to narrow it down,” Chulakes-Leetz said.
The special meeting on June 2 will begin at 4 p.m. at City Hall.