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Hayek wants search help with city-manager search

BY KATHRYN STINSON | JANUARY 29, 2010 7:30 AM

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Mayor Matt Hayek has proposed the city hire an outside search firm to find a new city manager and add new interviews to the process.

His proposal comes slightly more than nine months after the city fired then-City Manager Michael Lombardo, and the search firm that had guaranteed it would find a replacement went bankrupt.

In a memorandum sent to the Iowa City City Council on Wednesday and released Thursday, the mayor made numerous recommendations concerning the search for a replacement.

“The suggestions are mine alone and may or may not be of interest to the rest of you,” Hayek wrote in the memo. “I look forward to taking up these and other ideas the council wishes to entertain.”

The council will begin discussions on filling the position at its Feb. 1 work session. Hayek did not return a call on Thursday.

In addition to suggesting a firm instead of an internally conducted search, Hayek also suggested the use of three committees to conduct the final interviews of the manager candidates.

The first two committees would consist of the heads of the 16 citizen commissions. Former Iowa City mayors would make up the final committee.

Councilor Mike Wright said Hayek’s mayor panel was a good idea.

“Former mayors have a pretty good perspective,” he said. “They know how the game works and all have worked with city managers.”

Financially, the city is in a good position to fund an outside search firm, said interim City Manager Dale Helling, and he noted that the city spent roughly $16,000 on a search firm two years ago.

The issue lies in whether the council prefers to spend the money in that manner.

“I’m leaning toward agreeing to use the firm partly because it shakes the trees a bit more, so to speak,” Wright said. “Although I’m not real crazy about the expense.”

The City Council paid outside a recruitment service, the PAR Group, over the course of nine months before hiring Lombardo, whom they terminated in April 2009.

PAR Group guaranteed Lombardo’s employment for at least 12 months, offering to conduct a new search nearly free of charge if he was dismissed before reaching one year of service. Lombardo received notice of his termination just weeks before reaching his one-year anniversary.

Since the dismissal of Lombardo, PAR Group filled bankruptcy, leaving the city out nearly $16,500, according to a memo sent earlier this month by City Attorney Eleanor Dikes.

Councilors have said they were waiting until after the November elections to begin the search for a new city manager.


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