Thursday, April 12, 2018

Everyone Is Encouraged to Apply

By Chris Frost

Special to the Tri County Sentry


The Oxnard City Council had a lively discussion about its next city manager during its April 3, meeting and voted unanimously to send out its recruitment brochure and open the pool of applicants to everyone but encourage local applications.

Mayor Tim Flynn said the council should discuss whether to limit the pool to local applicants.

"I hope there are going to be many opportunities for the public to provide input for the future city manager, on the hiring process, and try to give the council some direction," he said.

City Attorney Stephen Fischer said the issue could be moot when factoring in local candidates.

"Every council member received an email from someone who used to be a city manager offering his services to be a city manager," Councilman Bert Perello said.

He said he and Councilman Oscar Madrigal asked for it to be on the agenda.

"The city attorney and I have a disagreement, but that's how I see it," he said. "It was not the intent to limit the applicants to local applicants only; it was the intent to be fair to every elected council member."

He raised concern when two council members asked for an item be put on the agenda and it wasn't.

"The item is on the agenda for discussion to review the offer of this individual and since then some other individuals," he said. "We've had two that have applied directly ."

He said Fischer told him the two people who applied directly was turned over to the headhunter.

"I don't know how that works because the headhunter hasn't put the advertisement yet," he said.

Perello said he would not serve on a committee that doesn't get a review from the council of what the committee is doing and the majority doesn't get to vote.

"No consensus baloney, a vote where we go on the record," he said.

He said the committee has two individuals and the council has five people.

"For those who don't understand, the difference between two and five is three," he said. "The minority would be able to do something for the city, without the other three is a problem," he said.

Perello said he stands by the need for a job description.

"This city has been hoodwinked and snookered the last couple of contracts that have gone to city managers," he said. "We need to know what to expect from the individual and the person who takes the job needs to know what is expected of him."

He said most of the people know what is expected of them at work.

"Responsibility and accountability go hand-in-hand in the real world," he said. "The City of Oxnard is in the real world."

He said Madrigal is on a mission to a church in Mexico and his job requires him to do it.

"If he doesn't go, he doesn't have a job," Perello said. "That's called a responsible, and he is accountable for that responsibility."

He wanted to bring the issue to the council and see how they fell.

"We had a lot of people say they want a local hire," he said.

Mayor Pro Tem Carmen Ramirez said she has a different opinion.

"I know that being one of the two members of the committee, it was my sense that we would do the grunt work and I think the job description is something the council should weigh-in on," she said. "I think the one that Councilman Perello is good with a little bit of tweaking."

She said the CEO of Ventura County applied.

"As far as the local candidates, I sent them on to the person who is helping us with the recruitment," she said. "I'm not going to pre-judge anybody or dismiss anybody, and I think it's great they are interested. I do not support limiting the candidates to local candidates."

She said local candidates should be considered.

"We cannot, as a council, hire somebody we know or not hire somebody we don't like," she said. "That's how I feel about either of these two fine gentlemen that applied."

She said it doesn't look like a fair process.

"I support an open invitation to people with the experience and the like experience," Ramirez said. "We're not saying you have to be a city manager, but you have to have some management experience, in my opinion."

She said Oxnard is looking for someone who is special and ready to take on the opportunities and challenges.

"To do a good job for all of us," she said. "I don't want to limit us to locals only, but certainly locals are welcome to apply."

Flynn said the council has a recruitment brochure in front of them to entice a lot of applicants, not a job description.

"I appreciate Councilman Perello wanting the full council to weigh in on it, and I would like the two doing the grunt work, like mayor pro tem (Ramirez) said to make a recommendation to us," he said.

Councilman Bryan MacDonald said he looked at and liked the recruitment flyer.

"In terms of a job description, at this level, if you need a job description to tell you what to do, you're probably going to be my ideal candidate," he said. "I expect people to come in having a base understanding of what this position entails, it's upper management, and it's not something that you look at."

He said it's not a full job description but gives a pretty good idea of what the city manager does.

He loves the idea that local candidates are interested but doesn't want to preclude the whole process for two local candidates.

"I certainly encourage them to participate, and allow us to make the decision we have to make," he said.

Mayor Tim Flynn said the recruitment brochure is done well.

"It's a combination of the visuals, some of the most attractive parts of the City of Oxnard, and that entices people to apply," he said.

Flynn said he knows the two applicants and called them highly qualified.

"I wouldn't want to limit the pool to local candidates," he said. "It has nothing to do about the two candidates who applied, but I would be willing to consider something that might give a local candidate an extra advantage to hiring a local candidate just like we give a 5 percent advantage to bidding for local contracts."

During public comments, Robert Franks said he was relieved to find out the job wouldn't be limited to local candidates.

"If you get the right candidate, the commitment will come," he said.

He called the announcement excellent.