April 23, 2009
|Small Group Reveals Botheration Source|
The council has been criticized for not being able to get along. With nine members of the City Council it may not be that evident to some who is causing the disruption, but at the city manager search firm search committee meetings – with four city councilmembers – it is extremely obvious who the problem is.
The four-member committee was appointed to make a recommendation to the council for an executive search firm to help the council hire the next city manager.
Mayor Pro-tem Sandra Anderson Groat is chairman of the committee and Councilmembers Dianne Bellamy-Small, Zack Matheny and Trudy Wade are the other committee members.
The committee meeting, held on Tuesday before the regular council meeting, started with Wade asking a lot of questions of staff about the Human Resources Department handling the search. Wade stated that with the internet and the current job market, it should not be that difficult to find qualified candidates, and the city could save money by doing the search itself instead of paying $25,000 or $30,000 for a search firm.
The staff clearly wanted nothing to do with doing the search and the rest of the committee was also opposed to it. After Wade got her questions answered and saw that nobody else on the committee agreed with her, she dropped that effort and gave her recommendations for a search firm.
Wade, Groat and Matheny all agreed that the city should use a search firm that had not worked with the city before. Groat's first pick was a company out of Texas, but when Groat learned from the Human Resources Department that the firm had done work for the city, she dropped it and agreed to look at two other firms – The Par Group and Colin Baenziger & Associates.
After some discussion, Groat, Matheny and Wade agreed that they should get more information about The Par Group and Colin Baenziger & Associates and then pick one and make that recommendation to council.
That would have been the end of the meeting except Bellamy-Small did not agree that the city should use a firm who had never worked for the city. She had a number of firms that she liked and wanted to talk about them.
Several times Groat offered to add Bellamy-Small's favorite, Springsted to the list of companies they were going to get more information about, because Bellamy-Small would not accept no for an answer. Wade kept pointing out that Bellamy-Small was being out voted 3 to 1.
When Groat suggested that they just add Bellamy-Small's firm to the list (so they could get out of there), Wade pointed out that three of the four committee members had agreed that they did not want a firm who had worked for the city, so there was no reason to get more information on a firm that three members of the committee did not want to hire.
But Bellamy-Small kept saying, "You can have a minority opinion," and "So no other opinion is necessary," and "So my call to Fayetteville is wasted." She repeated these messages over and over despite the fact that the rest of the committee had heard what she had to say, but disagreed with her on a fundamental premise. The other three did not want a firm that had worked for the city, Bellamy-Small did. The best part of the meeting was when Bellamy-Small sat at the table and talked on her cell phone.
Wade wanted to use the city Human Resources Department and when she couldn't get a vote she abandoned that and worked with the other two committee members. Groat had picked the firm she liked, but when she was informed that the firm had actually worked for the city, she didn't insist that they were her favorite and the committee had to consider them just because she liked them. Groat moved on to reach a consensus with the majority of those on the committee.
Bellamy-Small behaved just like she does at City Council meetings. She talked a lot, repeating the same things over and over again, and when anyone didn't agree with her she accused them of not being interested in minorities.
During this first meeting, the committee spent more time trying to set up a second meeting than anything else. So the committee is making progress, and no doubt at the next City Council meeting a recommendation will be made by the committee for an executive search firm that received three votes from the committee of four, and Bellamy-Small will distract the council and waste time by complaining about the fact that the rest of the committee refused to consider a minority recommendation.