Council stumbles and bumbles

Published 10:25 pm Thursday, October 2, 2008

Here’s hoping that the completion of Franklin’s search for a new city manager goes smoother than the start.

In retrospect, the City Council jumped the gun a couple of months ago by advertising as vacant a position it clearly wasn’t ready to fill.

Forty-two applicants met a mid-August deadline, only for the council to decide it needed to start over in the search for veteran manager Bucky Taylor’s successor.

Curiously, city staff deemed 35 of the 42 original applicants “unqualified” under the terms of the job description, and council members were content to let staff members do the weeding. We’re not privy to the resumes, but such a sweeping dismissal of 35 applications leads us to believe that the original job description was written too narrowly.

The seven who did pass muster (one has since withdrawn from consideration after accepting another job) must have underwhelmed the majority of council members.

Without bothering to interview the six “qualified” candidates, council members have now decided they need a recruitment firm — at a price tag of up to $30,000 — to assist with the search. We share Mayor Jim Councill’s bewilderment with the rush to spend money on a headhunter when council members haven’t even fully explored the options before them.

Though the six original candidates technically remain under consideration, it’s clear that the council is looking for something more. The question is: What? Is the City Council truly looking for someone better qualified than the original 42 applicants, or is politics already disrupting what should be a non-political attempt to identify the best person for the job?

We can only hope that interim City Manager June Fleming will hang in there long enough for the City Council to get its act together on this critically important decision.