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Light shed on manager selection process

By Staff | Jun 26, 2010

To rank the Cape’s qualified city manager applicants into tiers, the municipality’s Human Resources Department developed an evaluation form for the process.
The form, developed by Recruitment Specialist Patra Hill and Human Resources Director Wayne Howard, was “only for the purpose of placing city manager candidates in one of three bands which were considered equally qualified.”
The evaluation form was a first for the city; it had not been used in previous recruitments, officials said this week.
In answer to public records requests, the City of Cape Coral released its ranking methodology for the city manager candidates late Thursday, including the 11 categories/questions used to determine whether the candidate was “qualified,” “better qualified” or “best qualified.”
The questions assigned a numerical points system based on a candidate’s experience level as taken from submitted resumes.
One point equaled 10 years of experience, 10 points equaled 19 or more years of experience, with various levels of experience and points in between.
Candidates also were awarded points for being a resident of Cape Coral, and for having a Master’s Degree in public administration, business administration, finance or economics.
Candidates were not awarded points based on being a veteran.
According to Hill, who responded to questions sent to the city by The Breeze via e-mail, the methodology was developed solely for city manager recruits. The evaluation form had not been used in previous recruitment efforts, and city does not give residency points for all recruitments.
The last time residency points were applied was in 2007 for the assistant city manager recruitment, according to Hill, who compiled the forms for Howard’s approval.
No outside parties were present during the ranking process, Hill said in answer to a question on that subject.
“No other individual was present at the time of the evaluation,” she wrote. “No elected official was present, at any time, during the evaluation process.”
Cape resident Gary King, who earned council’s vote to become the Cape’s next manager, earned perfect scores in all categories except one.
He earned the lowest possible score for previous experience with collective bargaining.
Like King, current city manager Carl Schwing earned perfect scores in all categories except one.
Schwing earned the lowest possible score for demonstrated experience managing a large, complex organization with 1,000 employees.
Other components of the hiring process included having the semi-final applicants answer 17 essay-like questions and having the finalists appear for in-person interviews with the city council.
Council has been both hailed and criticized for its selection and the ranking methodology used has itself has been called into question by some.
The controversy heated up when Mayor John Sullivan answered critics this week by stating that King was the “highest rated finalist” according to the rankings provided by Human Resources.
Councilmember Pete Brandt said he was never confused about how the ranking system worked.
He said he visited the Human Resources Department early in the process to obtain copies of the ranking system.
While pleased with the overall ranking methodology, Brandt said he would have changed the minimum requirements to be wider ranging.
“I did not want to see arbitrary requirements,” Brandt said. “Anyone who feels they were qualified, I wanted to see.”
Councilmember Marty McClain thought the city should have sent the search out to a professional “head hunter” firm.
Doing so, he said, would have alleviated controversy surrounding the city manager search, and kept the Human Resources Department from trying assign a numerical ranking system to their new boss.
“That may have put HR in a position they didn’t want to be in,” McClain said.
The ranking sheets may be found on cape-coral-daily-breeze.com