Archive for Friday, March 10, 2006

No timeline in search for city manager

March 10, 2006


City commissioners still aren't certain about how they'll find a replacement for City Manager Mike Wildgen, one day after he was forced to resign.

Business continued as normal Thursday at City Hall, but commissioners did not set a definite timetable for finding a replacement. Nor did they decide whether a consulting firm would be hired to do a national search for Wildgen's successor.

Mayor Boog Highberger said commissioners likely would have a better idea how to proceed by next week.

"I do know that whatever process is chosen, I want there to be as much community participation as possible," Highberger said.

Wildgen announced his resignation Wednesday after 16 years as the city's top executive. Commissioners cited concerns that Wildgen had not adequately planned for growth, and that the city's sewer and street systems were plagued by problems. David Corliss, assistant city manager and director of legal services, was named interim city manager.

How long Corliss will be asked to serve as interim city manager, though, is unknown. Highberger said it was certain the city would conduct a national search for Wildgen's replacement, but he said the commission still had to discuss whether a consultant should be hired to help attract and cull applicants.

Other searches in limbo

City Commissioner Mike Amyx - who, if tradition holds, will be selected by fellow commissioners to serve a one-year term as mayor in April - said commissioners needed to decide whether to continue searches already under way for a new planning director and director of utilities. Both positions currently are filled by acting directors.

Technically, the city manager is responsible for filling the positions, though city commissioners would have strong input. But Amyx said Wildgen's departure might make filling the positions more challenging.

"A new planning director or utility director would want to know who their boss would be, and right now we can't tell them," Amyx said.

Highberger said he would like for the searches to continue but said the decision must be made by the entire commission.

Commissioners also will have to discuss what qualities they are seeking in a new city manager. Some commissioners began to open up slightly about that subject Thursday.

"What we need as a commission is professional advice, professional long-term planning, professional guidance," City Commissioner David Schauner said. "And if that means a bit stronger hand on the tiller, that might be OK. But we really haven't made that decision as a commission yet."

Sewers still priority

There was more certainty expressed by commissioners about issues staff members need to address during the transition period.

"We have to resolve our sewer issues," Amyx said. "That should be our main priority."

City planners have refused to give final approval to some projects in northwest Lawrence because they are uncertain the area's sewer system can accommodate additional growth. A report by the engineering firm Black & Veatch is being prepared that will address how the system could be upgraded. Highberger said that report - scheduled for release in May or June - won't be delayed by Wildgen's departure.

Commissioners also want work to continue on finding a site for a new $75-million sewer treatment plant along the Wakarusa River, which must be completed by 2011 to accommodate the city's growth.

Highberger also said he expected staff to continue work on shuttling the city's proposed Development Code through the approval process. The Development Code ranks as a major project because it will replace the city's 40-year-old zoning code and is expected to guide how growth will occur in the city for years to come.

Perhaps more than anything, commissioners said, Corliss and his team will be expected to ensure day-to-day city services carry on so average citizens won't notice that there's been a change in leadership.

"This was an agonizing deal," Amyx said of the process surrounding Wildgen's resignation. "But where we are right now, the way I've got it figured, is that we have a community to run."

- 6News reporter Laura McHugh contributed to this report.


Bruce Rist 12 years, 1 month ago

Mike you will be missed!!!! You where a great City Manager.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years, 1 month ago

At least Rundle didn't have his job handed to him on a silver platter, and performs it competently, and hasn't had to be bailed out by daddy's rich friends.

And what makes you think that there will be no "professional" input?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years, 1 month ago

Interesting, Pilgrim. You demonstrate primarily ignorance about what his day job is, and suggest that his decade or so on the city commission shouldn't really count as experience.

neopolss 12 years, 1 month ago

LJW needs someone better taking photographs. That shot for this article is terrible! It's like someone just snapped a candid and ran!

Dave McClain 12 years, 1 month ago

You all realize that we will spend time and money in the search. Then we will have re-elections of commisioners. Then we will start the process over again. Great planning.

And I think bozo and consumer1 make a great pair? Do you two live together?

Linda Aikins 12 years, 1 month ago

Geez Bozo, it's a discussion board, not a doctoral review. We don't have to be too serious or thoughtful, or we would end up on a bus...

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years, 1 month ago

We're all free to say whatever we want, and we're all free to comment on anyone's else's comments any way we please (as long as the JW staff doesn't take issue, that is.)

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years, 1 month ago

"we need a public, flexible, realistic timetable that will tell people when and how we (will withdraw from Iraq")

I will be among the first to applaud when I hear Bush say this.

Sigmund 12 years, 1 month ago

I think we need to hire a consultant to 1. choose the consultant on the sewer project, and 2. replace all the Commissioners who require consultants before they do a number 2 in the morning. Seriously, why do we have these bozo's, any clown can manage by consultant.

The good news is now that the gang of 6 have purged everyone possible to the gulags. Now we have no one to blame, except them.

pity2bu 12 years, 1 month ago

Why do we need to hire a consulting firm to find a city manager.

Nothing has changed, they will spend 100,000 dollars for the consulting firm to provide info on a national search.......and then appoint Corliss to the job.

Sounds like the same old regime to me, lets spend more money on surveys, as well as consulting firms to provide info that you can find on the internet.

Well lets just say, the three comishketeers (Boog, Rundle and Schauner) have done it again, All for Us and Us for Us.

RetiredArmy 12 years, 1 month ago

Dont get me wrong we need a commision and we need people to help keep the city going in the right direction. I just think some things need to have the peoples vote.

Jd Finch 12 years, 1 month ago

p> Seriously, they need to browse some executive resumes and just select someone for a year-long contract with an option for renewal. Is that too tough?

lunacydetector 12 years, 1 month ago

hey retired army, are you childless? don't ask don't tell?

20 years in the military - you should run for city commission if you don't think you qualify for city manager.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years, 1 month ago

Well, B73H, your post doesn't quite meet the pettiness test that most posts on this board do, but it's still remarkably substance-free.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years, 1 month ago

Actually, I did appreciate the humor, which is why I noted that it wasn't petty.

Too bad the majority of posts on this topic are both humorless and substance-free.

Have a great Friday, too.

Sandman 12 years, 1 month ago

Can we still celebrate Dadaism? Or are the serious issues facing this city finally going to get some attention?

lunacydetector 12 years, 1 month ago

one more timeframe for hiring a city manager?

what? (to quote the 'pull out of iraq' argument) "we need a public, flexible, realistic timetable that will tell people when and how we expect this to happen" with the hiring of a new city manager.

in other words, timeframes are good for pulling out of iraq but not good for hiring a new city manager? oh, the hypocrisy of the liberal leftists.

RetiredArmy 12 years, 1 month ago

Lunacy, I dont think I would be a good fit with other Commisioners since I wouldnt be quite about certian issues and the things that are done with the city for the good of the people(but the people dont get to vote or have a say in there city)wouldnt work for me since I would want the peoples oppinion on maters. City rules and regulations(for the most part) should be made by the people that live there and make the city function, not a couple of people.

RetiredArmy 12 years, 1 month ago

I think we just need to focus on how to fix things and how to get Lawrence a better place for all. Sitting around complaining about the stuff we see isnt helping anything. I see a lot of names here that should be running for city manager since they have solutions to all the porblems. I would run but I dont have any education just 20 yrs of military. So I look forward to seeing a lot of names running for city offices when the time opens.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years, 1 month ago

I don't necessarily disagree, Pilgrim, but I doubt that you and I would automatically agree on which candidate(s) would be the best.

The committee that will select the next manager is already selected, and that's the city commission. I'm likely to agree with the criteria the majority will have in making that selection. But I also believe that they will listen to people like you, and other frequent critics, before making that selection. And that's as it should be.

But if you want your input to be taken seriously, it needs to be more thoughtful than what is typical of this board.

lunacydetector 12 years, 1 month ago

No Manager = POOR PLANNING! (thanks consumer1) ...and Harley! you crack me up!

WANTED One City Manager/Planning Director for a community of 80,000 and growing. Position is temporary, possibly lasting 2 years at most (when the new city commission gets elected and gets rid of you). Must meet the following :

1) Non-tobacco user 2) Abstract Art Lover 3) Hemp Friendly 4) familiar with the European school of traffic design 5) member of the ACLU 6) must have a love for animals - PETA member/Sierra club 7) Must be childless, gay, or both 8) Private Sector candidate need not apply unless with non-profit 9) Hygiene/grooming not important, t-shirts welcome 10) Must be a Democrat willing to register as independent progressive

Apply in person at City Hall, free camping/over night lodging available 300 yards away.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years, 1 month ago

Consumer1-- I'd be disappointed if they had already rushed to put together a "plan." I'm glad to hear that they intend to do a national search, but I hope they take a little time to make a plan that will get as much input from as many people as possible.

I expect that your post won't last long, though, with the pettiness you chose to end it with.

JustWondering 12 years, 1 month ago

Did you know there's a State law that crappy junk cars, twisted metal, debris, etc. must be screened from view?

Did you also know that the City of Lawrence DOES have the power to ENFORCE this State law?

Take a drive across the bridge to North Lawrence and keep looking toward the East. Just North of the Citgo gas station there is a big huge concrete "Lawrence" sign. Just East of that concrete "Lawrence" sign is an illegal - I guess you'd call it a "Junk Yard" - that is NOT licensed by the State of Kansas as being a junk yard.

There is green mosquito netting on the chain link fence, but clearly nothing is obscured from the full view of the street - which just happens to be a Kansas State HWY.

Is the City Commission in favor of this beautiful sight? The weeds there get 4 times over the 12-inch height limit, and you can see them there in all their glory, all summer long.

What about the children? Is it safe for young residents of the J-Hawk motel to be over there playing in twisted, rusty metal of 500 junked, wrecked automobiles?

Just wondering why the City Commission, the City Planning Dept. and the City Manager are "The 3 Monkeys"?

(meaning they pretend: "they don't see it," "they've never heard of it," and they never speak of it.)

Is it legal to conduct business out in the middle of a city street (the cul-de-sac out in front of the gate) without a business permit, or anything?

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