The Lowell City Council held a special meeting tonight (March 3, 2014) to decide the next steps in the process of selecting a new city manager and a new city auditor.
Councilor Mercier opens by moving that a period of citizen comment be allowed prior to the interviews. Councilor Belanger seconds this and says while it is ultimately the council’s duty to select the city manager that many citizens are interested and involved and would like to share their ideas with the council. Councilor Samaras says he’d like to see a process similar to that used by the school committee when hiring a superintendent such as having the candidates meet with a selection of people from the community.
Other discussion involves whether or not this meeting is a public hearing and if yes does it have to be advertised (yes). They want “adequate notice” to the public through a “newspaper ad.” Applicant resumes will not be available to the public until councilors select finalists. Mayor Elliott selects each councilor submit up to ten names and the five candidates who have the most votes are interviewed. Councilor Martin says his memory is they selected five, not ten.
Motion is to place an advertisement in the newspaper of a public hearing that will be held after the councilors identify the finalists so that people will be allowed to speak prior to the interviews being held. There’s confusion about whether the public input will be done immediately before the interviews or on an earlier night. Leahy and Belanger both say it would be best to have the public input on one night and the interviews on a later night. Kennedy concurs. Mercier says that on the night the public provides its input is the night the clerk announces the initial tallies of candidates to determine who proceeds to the interview stage. She doesn’t want public input on the same night as the interviews.
This public hearing will be held on Wednesday, March 12 at 7 pm.
The next item is the process for paring down the applicant pool. Each councilor will submit the name of five applicants to the city clerk. He will tally which applicants get the most votes and the top five will be the finalists who will be interviewed. Rourke moves that each councilor submit five names to the city clerk no later than this Friday at 5pm and that the clerk tally the votes and that the five applicants who receive the most votes and communicate that to the members of the city council.
Next is the interview process. Prior practice was a 3 minute opening, each councilor asking a question with 5 minutes to answer and then a 3 minute closing. They decide to defer a decision on this.
Regarding the City Auditor position (of which there are 10 applicants) Councilor Rourke moves that councilors submit up to 4 names to the city clerk by close of business on this Friday and that the clerk tally the votes and disclose the 4 top candidates to the councilors. Councilor Martin suggests that the public be allowed to give input on the auditor position at next Wednesday’s public hearing. He also suggests that at the close of that public hearing that the councilors then select dates for the interviews of both positions.
Next is the appointment of an acting city auditor. Councilor Mercier moves that the council appoint Karen O’Beirne (who is the current number 2 person in the auditor’s office) to be the acting auditor. Motion passes unanimously.
Meeting adjourns at 5:47 pm.