The meeting was called to order at 9:43 a.m. by Mayor Wolowicz in the Community Room at City Hall, 30940 Hawthorne Boulevard.
Present: Councilman Stern, Mayor Pro Tem Long, and Mayor Wolowicz
Also present was Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Petru.
Councilman Stern led the assembly in the Pledge of Allegiance.
APPROVAL OF AGENDA:
Councilman Stern moved, seconded by Mayor Pro Tem Long to approve the Agenda as presented. Without objection, Mayor Wolowicz so ordered.
1. Interview Executive Search Firms (1101)
Council discussed the interview process and the fact that only two of the three executive search firms were available that day to be interviewed.
Mayor Wolowicz informed his colleagues that when asked specifically, City Manager Evans indicated that he thought that Council should also interview Avery Associates.
Mayor Pro Tem Long indicated that he did not feel it would be fair to the first two firms to interview Avery Associates just prior to the July 18th City Council meeting and then select a firm later that same evening as part of the regular meeting agenda.
Mayor Wolowicz and Councilman Stern agreed with Mayor Pro Tem Long on this point.
By consensus, Council directed staff to attempt to schedule the interview with Avery Associates on Saturday, July 22, 2006 at 9:30 a.m. and to schedule the selection of the firm that will assist the City in the recruitment on the August 1, 2006 City Council agenda.
Mayor Wolowicz indicated that because Councilman Gardiner was unable to attend this meeting due to prior commitment, he had spoken to him prior to this meeting and related that Councilman Gardiner had suggested that Council develop a list of criteria for the new City Manager. Mayor Wolowicz agreed that this would be a useful tool for Council during the recruitment process and indicated that Councilman Gardiner warned against using any kind of numerical ranking system to evaluate the candidates.
Councilman Stern pointed out that each Council member would be individually interviewed by the selected recruiting firm, and noted that the type of criteria Councilman Gardiner is referring to would surface through this process.
Councilman Clark arrived at the meeting at 9:55 a.m. and informed his colleagues that he would only be able to stay for the first interview. He indicated that he would make arrangements with staff to speak with the representative from Ralph Andersen and Associates on the telephone.
Mayor Wolowicz observed that none of the current Council members has participated in the recruitment of a new City Manager.
Councilman Stern noted that there has been more turnover on the City Council than among the City’s senior management staff since the current City Manager was hired.
Mayor Wolowicz welcomed and invited the representative from the first recruitment firm to address Council.
Bob Murray, Bob Murray and Associates, introduced himself and stated that he has worked in the field of executive recruiting for the past 20 years. He explained that he has placed over 200 City Managers throughout California, including many coastal communities and upscale communities. He indicated that his firm consists of 10 staff members and has completed 450 searches since he started the business 6 years ago. He mentioned that he recently conducted the search for a new Executive Director for the Palos Verdes Peninsula Library District. He stated that his firm is exclusively engaged in search work and bases his approach on the specific needs of the client. Mr. Murray indicated that he would personally conduct the search for the City, starting with individual interviews of each Council member, followed by group interviews, production of the recruitment brochure and actively using his contacts and other resources to find potential candidates for the City. Once the deadline for applications is passed, Mr. Murray explained that he would screen the applications and narrow the pool down, based on the Council’s criteria, to approximately the top 10 applicants. Following background verification and reference checks, Mr. Murray stated that he would then recommend 5 or 6 candidates for Council to interview.
In response to a question from Councilman Clark, Mr. Murray indicated that he could make the entire list of applicants available to Council for review. He also noted that, in addition to standard criminal background checks and credit history checks, he uses such tools as the Google Internet search engine and the litigation searches using the firm of Lexis Nexis to find out whatever he can about a particular candidate.
Mayor Pro Tem Long asked how Mr. Murray would handle any internal candidates.
Mr. Murray responded that this was a sensitive issue. He indicated that in his experience internal candidates are often somewhat mistreated during the interview process and taken for granted. He opined that internal candidates should be treated with special care because most cities want them to remain with the City if they are not chosen to be City Manager.
Councilman Stern described the characteristics of the current Council as mimicking the profile of the community, which he described as a high level and sophisticated group. He speculated that this Council is unique compared to other city councils due to the member’s high level of civility and ability to work well together, despite divergences in opinion. He also felt that the community offers some of the most unique and challenging issues encountered anywhere in the state, which will require a great deal of creative thinking on the part of the new City Manger in order to be successful. He asked if Mr. Murray intended on speaking to the Department Heads during the recruitment process.
Mr. Murray indicated that he would like to include the Department Heads in the process and noted that more enlightened City Councils are embracing this approach because it is the Department Heads that can undo a City Manager faster than any City Council. He observed that Rancho Palos Verdes has many qualities that make it attractive to potential applicants and noted that a quality community and a good City Council is often more attractive to serious candidates than offering a high salary.
Mayor Pro Tem Long described the majority turn over that has occurred on Council since Councilman Stern was elected (in 1999), noting that one former Council member resigned before the end of his term and three were unseated during the 2001 and 2003 elections. He observed that throughout the turnover in the Council’s composition, the City staff remained professional and weathered the changes seamlessly. He indicated that he would like to know what the Department Heads think of the potential candidates and whether the person selected would be able to provide the level of service that is expected by the City’s senior management staff. He stated that the challenges facing the City, such as the landslide and the City’s limited revenue sources, should be realistically described to the applicants.
Mr. Murray explained that he prefers to not only receive the Department Head’s input upfront, but to also solicit their input throughout the process. He suggested that Council consider having the Department Heads interview the top candidates to help identify their strengths and weaknesses as they related to the City Hall organization.
Mr. Murray responded that he either personally knows or knows of every City Manager currently working in the state.
Councilman Clark noted that Rancho Palos Verdes faces many unique challenges for a city of its population size and geographic area. He indicated that he has also heard compliments from state elected representatives on the depth of knowledge and level of sophistication of this particular Council. He opined that the new City Manager must be experienced and cannot simply “coast” in this position. Referring to the subcommittee the Council appointed to assist in the recruitment effort, Councilman Clark indicated that he has heard from elected officials in other cities experienced in this process that the subcommittee should work closely with the recruiter in screening the applications and should interview the first tier of 10 candidates.
Mayor Wolowicz indicated that while he has not been involved in the selection of a new City Manager, he has participated in an executive recruitment in an adjacent city that wanted to include community input in the process. He asked if Bob Murray and Associated includes any type of personality test in the process to gain additional insight into the potential candidates.
Mr. Murray responded that his firm does not do this kind of evaluation, but indicated that he has used the Center for Executive Excellence to conduct these types of assessments. He explained that they provide insight into how a person reacts under stress and how they will interact with individual Council members.
Councilman Clark stated that he was familiar with the Meyers/Brigg test and suggested that it might be useful in identifying a candidate’s behavioral preferences
Mayor Wolowicz asked if there was a point in the process where the Council would interview the candidates one on one.
Mr. Murray responded that he recommends that all Council interviews of the candidates be done as a group so that everyone is hearing the same answer to the same question.
Mayor Pro Tem Long said that Council values its staff as resources. He indicated that Council should focus on getting the best City Manager possible because that person’s decisions will be challenged and second-guessed by residents who are often highly skilled professionals in the same field as the issue they are challenging.
Councilman Clark asked if the proposed schedule was realistic, given that the current City Manager will retire in December 2006.
Mayor Pro Tem augmented Councilman Clark’s question by pointing out that Council intends to select the recruiting firm at its August 1, 2006 meeting.
Mr. Murray responded that 75 to 90 days would be required to reach the point where he would be in a position to recommend the top candidates to Council, which would be just prior to the holiday season. Due to availability concerns during this time of the year, Mr. Murray indicated that the City would not be hiring a new City Manager until after the first of the year.
Councilman Clark asked if the City would need to appoint an Acting City Manager from among its current staff.
Mr. Murray cautioned against appointing an existing staff member who has applied for the permanent position, as it would change the dynamic of the recruitment and that the other candidates would perceive the Acting City Manager as the “heir apparent”.
Councilman Stern asked if City Manager Evans would be interested in staying on after the first of the year.
Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Petru indicated that she was not sure if City Manager Evans would be interested, given the fact that he had recently moved up his retirement date and had selected the month of December to take advantage of certain provisions of the CalPERS retirement system.
Mr. Murray offered that speeding up the recruitment process implies that the City is rushing to fill the position and give the wrong impression to potential applicants. He suggested that the City could contact the League of California Cities to provide a retired City Manager to fill the position on a temporary basis until the recruitment is completed.
Councilman Clark asked how the amount of the consultant’s compensation is derived.
Mr. Murray indicated that it is not like the private sector, where the consultant’s fee is based on the new City Manager’s salary. He noted that his firm tends to charge more than his competitors, but this was because his is the better firm.
Councilman Clark asked if his firm were selected to conduct the recruitment, what percentage of Mr. Murray’s time would be devoted to this effort.
Mr. Murray indicated that his involvement in this recruitment would be high, in that he would provide all the face-to-face contact with Council, senior staff members and the potential candidates. He noted that he uses his support staff to do the clerical and administrative duties associated with the assignment, such as preparing the brochure, sending out the applications and conducting the routine background checks.
Mayor Wolowicz thanked Mr. Murray for his interest and participation in the interview process.
Mr. Murray invited the Council members to call him if they thought of any additional questions subsequent to this interview.
RECESS AND RECONVENE:
Councilman Clark left the meeting at 10:53 a.m.
At 10:53 a.m. Mayor Wolowicz declared a short recess until 11:00 a.m. at which the City Council reconvened.
REGULAR BUSINESS (continued):
Mayor Wolowicz welcomed and invited the representatives from the second recruitment firm to address Council.
Heather Renschler, Ralph Andersen and Associates, introduced herself and her associate, Mike Hall. Ms. Renschler indicated that she has been with the firm since 1984 and is currently its CEO. She explained that she is based in Sacramento and that Mr. Hall is based in Manhattan Beach. She stated that her firm’s recent recruitments have included several coastal and upscale communities with similarities to Rancho Palos Verdes, and indicated that they are familiar with the types of issues facing the community.
Mike Hall, Ralph Andersen and Associates, indicated that he is relatively new to the firm, but that he has 30 years of experience in the state of Kansas, primarily in the area of law enforcement.
Ms. Renschler described the process that her firm would use in conducting the recruitment, including meeting with individual Council members, as well as senior City staff, in order to develop a profile of the ideal candidate. She indicated that they would spend a lot of time developing the right brochure used to advertise the position and can limit the search to California or had the capability of conducting a nationwide search if that was Council’s preference. In addition to the brochure and running advertisements in various professional journals, she indicated that they would spend a great deal of time calling their contacts in order to solicit more qualified and high caliber applicants.
Mr. Hall explained that, drawing from his law enforcement experience, his specialty is conducting background checks to verify that the candidates are in fact good citizens, including looking into their credit history, DMV records, warrants, litigation history, etc. He indicated that they would then look into the candidate’s management style and personality.
Ms. Renschler stated that the best service her firm would provide the City is helping Council to build a consensus on selecting the right candidate for the job. She indicated that she would be with Council when it interviews the core candidates and will arrange tours of the community for the top finalists. She emphasized that Council would get both her and Mike’s assistance in conducting the search during each step of the process. She noted that it was rare that a City Council does not find the right candidate out of the first group her firm recommends to it.
Mayor Wolowicz informed Ms. Renschler and Mr. Hall that Council has formed a subcommittee consisting of Councilmen Stern and Clark to participate in the first tier interviews before the search is narrowed down to the finalists that the entire Council would interview.
Mr. Hall clarified that even if the subcommittee participates in the earlier interviews, Ralph Andersen and Associates would notify unsuccessful candidates on the City’s behalf.
Mayor Pro Tem Long stated that while the City has limited financial resources, it uses them to obtain the best staff rather than the best facilities. He indicated that he believes the City has a very strong senior management team and asked how Ralph Andersen and Associates would handle internal candidates.
Ms. Renschler responded that they would treat any internal candidates in the same manner as any other candidates, especially if they are being asked to identify the qualities they would like to see in the new City Manager.
Mayor Pro Tem Long stated that he would like to know how all of the senior staff members feel about the potential candidates during the final selection process.
Ms. Renschler indicated that it was very important to make sure that everyone receives fair and equal treatment. She stated that if there is an internal candidate that makes it into the final round, they should not be introduced to the other outside candidates. She cautioned the Council to avoid creating situation where the Department Heads pick the new City Manager.
Mayor Pro Tem Long observed that the senior management staff provided more continuity for the City than the current Council members, noting that the most senior member on Council was first elected in 1999. He informed Ms. Renschler and Mr. Hall that the senior staff members have been working at the City longer than most of the other staff members and had successfully worked through a majority transition on the Council in a very professional manner.
Ms. Renschler offered to meet with the Department Heads to gain a sense of the culture at City Hall and to glean what qualities they wanted in their new boss.
Mayor Pro Tem Long noted that the City has a small and highly engaged staff, citing the example of nearly the entire staff attending a Council budget workshop in recent years.
Councilman Stern described the character of the current Council as he did earlier for Bob Murray. He indicated that receiving input from the senior management staff was extremely important and thought that it would enhance the recruitment firm’s ability to find the candidate that best fit with the City. He emphasized that there was stability and longevity in the community, which was reflected in the profile of its City employees.
Ms. Renschler indicated that they were willing to be flexible in defining the recruitment process in order to bring Council the best candidates available.
Councilman Stern indicated that the candidates should be well versed in the intricacies of California contract and land use law.
Mayor Pro Tem Long emphasized that the new City Manager must be able to fit in with the City executive staff’s culture. He noted that he appreciates the fact that the City’s staff does not make policy decisions, but does provide Council with accurate information and helps Council to avoid making costly mistakes or misguided decisions.
Responding to Council’s comments, Ms. Renschler stated that a candidate should not be judged only on how they look on paper, but what they are like in person.
Mayor Wolowicz asked if Ralph Andersen and Associates includes any type of personality test in the process to gain additional insight into the potential candidates.
Mr. Hall indicated that private corporations often use consulting firms to conduct these types of tests, but expressed some doubt that it would be appropriate for the City Manager recruitment.
Ms. Renschler stated that they do not typically prepare a psychological profile unless the recruitment is for a public safety position. She suggested that a test like a Meyers/ Brigg could be used to help assess a candidate’s temperament, but suggested that it also be administered to the senior management staff and even the Council members in order to establish the City Hall culture and provide a background to compare the results against.
Mayor Wolowicz indicated that he did not want to dwell on the need for a personality test, but would like some mechanism to gain insight into how the top candidates would react in a crisis.
Ms. Renschler suggested that there are also written tests available in addition to oral interviews that can provide additional insight into the qualities of each candidate. She indicated that they could adjust what techniques are used based on Council’s direction.
Mayor Wolowicz asked about the proposed recruitment schedule, provided that Council selects the firm at its August 1, 2006 meeting.
Following on to Mayor Wolowicz’s question, Mayor Pro Tem asked what Ralph Andersen and Associates’ recommendation would be during the interim period between the current City Manager’s departure and when the position if filled.
Ms. Renschler indicated that she was confident her firm could help Council fill the position before the end of the year.
Mayor Pro Tem Long asked if this could be done without giving the impression to potential candidates that the City is rushing the process.
Ms. Renschler answered in the affirmative and indicated that the deadline for applications could close at the end of September or the beginning of October. Based on this schedule, her firm could take advantage of the timing of the League of California Cities’ Annual Conference in San Diego and the ICMA National Conference in San Antonio, Texas, if Council wanted a broader search. She noted that the job announcement brochure would have to be issued quickly based on this schedule, but indicated that her firm produces them entirely in-house, which speeds up the process.
Mayor Wolowicz asked the firm’s representatives for any closing remarks.
Ms. Renschler stated that Ralph Andersen Associates would provide Council with ethical, professional and experienced service in its search for a new City Manager. She stated that she and Mr. Hall would make a difficult decision easier and would provide Council with a great deal of personal attention.
Councilman Stern indicated that Ms. Renschler and Mr. Hall might receive telephone calls from the other two Council members who were unable to attend this interview.
Mayor Wolowicz thanked Ms. Renschler and Mr. Hall for their interest and participation in the interview process.
Mayor Wolowicz declared the meeting adjourned at 11:53 a.m.
/s/ Stefan Wolowicz
/s/ Carolynn Petru