Monday, November 2, 2009

I found my spine re: the Planning Director

OK, so duh, I was reminded that the Planning Director position is co-terminus with the sitting mayor ... and as I was speaking with Donna Holaday on another matter a bit ago, I asked her about Nick Cracknell.

But I want to give James Shanley equal opportunity to answer so I'm waiting for a call back from him.

Oh, OK, I'll tell you that Holaday said that although she felt Cracknell is an "incredibly talented visionary," she would retain Sean Sullivan because Cracknell would be a very controversial appointment.

She said she consulted with people both within City Hall and without to see what they thought of the job Sullivan is doing, and she heard "nothing but wonderful things."

I'll let you know as soon as I hear from Shanley.

But doesn't this make you think twice about the issue of taking the City Marshal and Fire Chief positions out of civil service? Sullivan has only been in the Planning Dept. for one year, come January ... city officials should be very careful about this civil service issue and make sure those positions don't serve "at the pleasure" of the sitting mayor, should they be taken out of civil service.

And I agree with Tom Salemi that appointments to key boards should not be solely at the discretion of the mayor.

I have a feeling that, whoever is elected, there is going to be some "spring cleaning"of boards and committees ... or did I say that already?


Ari Herzog said...

On the subject of board/committee composition, keep in mind the position of mayor may suggest many appointments but the city council appoints.

Dick Monahan said...

I'm remembering this from about 30 years ago, so the details may be wrong, but the overall story is true.

In the City of Brockton, the Police Chief was appointed by the Mayor. The Mayor changed, so the new one appointed a new chief. The old chief went back to being a Lieutenant. Since the new chief didn't like some of the things the old one had done, he gave him an undesirable job (evidence room clerk). Since the old one only had a few years until retirement, he took it.

The next mayor appointed a Sergeant as Chief. You can imagine what rippled out from that one! I lost track what happened after that, but I was told that this sequence had been going on for years. It impressed me as a very bad way to run a department.

Ed Cameron said...


As it is currently constructed, civil service effectively limits the applicant pool. Right now, the pool can be internal and the three top scoring candidates on the civil service exam are the pool; or the pool can be opened up and the three top candidates from wherever are the pool. I'm not an expert on the process, but it doesn't make a lot of sense to me. There will be committee meetings on this, so it will be an interesting discussion.

Speaking personally, I will be pushing for a defined screening process in City ordinance so politics is pulled out. The hiring shouldn't be done solely by a future Mayor (or City Manager) without broader input. Other communities have done this by having a hiring committee (which could include members or designees of other City departments, Council, School Committee, public safety officials from other local communities) to narrow down the candidates.

I also think the contract length should be 3-5 years which would encourage candidates to apply and also give more stability to the respective department than a shorter contract.

Ed Cameron