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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Second Search For San Leandro City Manager Begins

SAN LEANDRO | Sept. 7, 2011 | San Leandro is targeting the end of the year for hiring a new city manager. If successful, the occasion will mark nearly a year since the former city manager announced his retirement last Dec. 21.

The recruiter tabbed by the city this summer to find a replacement for Stephen Hollister told the City Council she is hopeful a slate of prospective candidate will be available to them as early as the end of November. The deadline for applications is Oct. 16.

This is the city's second attempt at hiring a city manager and it continues to be a black eye for new Mayor Stephen Cassidy. Earlier this year, the mayor opted to complete the onerous search without the use of outside consultants. A much-criticized ad-hoc committee consisting of Cassidy and Councilwomen Ursula Reed and Diana Souza identified a sole candidate, but in a sign of increasing consternation among the council over Cassidy's management style, they fell short of unanimity in their support.

The unidentified candidate withdrew interests after the council reportedly approved the hire by a 4-3 vote. The perception of council infighting led to the hiring of Terri Black & Associates for over $20,000 to resume the search. The Southern California recruiter is known locally for two recent high-profile hirings of females for Oakland's city attorney position and Hayward's new police chief.

The issue of attracting a prospective city manager willing to relocate to San Leandro continues to be an issue. Although Hollister and former police chief Ian Willis attracted criticism for not living within the city, both merely lived a few miles away in Castro Valley. The symbolism remains important among residents.

"When I talk to people, boy, they bring that up almost every time," said Councilman Jim Prola. "They want a new city manager who lives in San Leandro."

Councilwoman Joyce Starosciak agreed with the sentiment that  residents want a city manager with skin in the game, but urged caution in making the demand too strong a prerequisite for potential applicants. "I don't want to start excluding people based upon where they intend to reside," she said, "and I don't want to make it look like that's going to be a very important criteria."

Cassidy also insisted  the council remain aware of keep applicant's information confidential. It is an issue nearby Alameda dealt squarely with the same night as councilmembers accused each of other of leaking information to the public. "It's not to create secrets," said Cassidy. "It is to create a zone of comfort and privacy for these individuals so we can ultimately get the best city manager candidate."

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