Toledo City Council launches search for Interim City Manager until they can find a permanent one – Mayor Grutzmacher says he’ll apply for the slot.
The Toledo City Council is in a time crunch on getting somebody to replace outgoing City Manager Michelle Amberg who leaves her job in mid-January for her new position as the new City Administrator for the city of Creswell, just south of Eugene.
The council began grappling with a two step challenge – step one: someone to be an interim city manager while the council searches for a permanent city manager and – step two: selecting a new permanent new city manager.
Amberg said she has the names of a number of interim city managers who could fill the bill while the council seeks her permanent replacement. After discussing how the interim position should be filled, which includes a quick “list serve” and other listing services, and with an application deadline of January 3rd, the council followed the lead of Councilor Michele Johnson who suggested that three city councilors and three city department heads be appointed as a review committee to interview the candidates. The committee would recommend their top choice to the council by January 15th. Amberg’s last day was supposed to be the 17th so the timing will be tight. Amberg said if something slows down the process she will agree to work a few more days to ensure the committee and the council has enough time to make a good choice.
Once the interim city manager is in place the council can then focus its attention on recruiting a permanent replacement for Amberg. To the surprise of some, but not to others, Mayor Ralph Grutzmacher announced that he will apply for the job of interim city manager. That will disqualify him, by virtue of a conflict of interest, from participating in any discussions concerning the hiring of an interim city manager. Grutzmacher’s wife, Councilor Jill Lyon, was challenged by a couple of residents as to whether she herself has a conflict of interest by virtue of being married to Grutzmacher. Councilor Lyon replied that she has checked the state ethics codes and has determined that she can participate as a city councilor on tasks related to establishing a process of selecting an interim city manager but that she will not participate in interviewing the candidates nor will she be participating in voting for one of the candidates. She said that she and her husband are both attorneys and that their knowledge of, and commitment to professional standards of conduct and of ethical behavior are important to both of them. If her husband were to become the new city manager, Councilor Lyon said she would recuse herself from discussing or voting on issues dealing the mayor’s job performance or items relating to the mayor’s salary and benefits package.
Grutzmacher was unsuccessful as a candidate for recent city manager job openings in Newport and Waldport.
Grutzmacher was a high ranking attorney in the legislative office of Prince George’s County which is a Maryland suburban county of Washington D.C. of nearly one million population encompassing 27 cities. Wife Jill Lyon was a National Association of Broadcasters lobbyist on issues dealing with the Federal Communications Commission.
Amberg reassured the council that there are a number very competent interim city manager candidates around Oregon who can do a good job as a placeholder because of their knowledge of how cities work and, in the case of Toledo, city department heads are very good at what they do and will be firmly committed to keeping the city running smoothly until a new permanent city manager can come aboard – certainly within the next six months to a year.