Lawrence and Douglas County

Lawrence and Douglas county

New city manager may be selected within six months

March 30, 2006


City commissioners hope to have a new city manager selected within at least six months.

Mayor Boog Highberger on Wednesday said commissioners had not set a firm timeline for the search to be completed, but he said a three- to six-month process was likely. City Commissioner Mike Amyx agreed. He is scheduled to begin a one-year term as mayor on Tuesday.

"The timeline, I think, is realistic," Amyx said. "It will be a big goal of mine to stay within it. I really don't want it to go longer than that."

Commissioners are searching for a new city manager after Mike Wildgen three weeks ago was asked to resign after 16 years as the city's top executive. Commissioners cited concerns related to long-term planning and infrastructure issues as reasons for Wildgen's release.

Highberger also confirmed the commission has agreed to hire a consulting firm to help the city with a nationwide search to fill the job. He said commissioners - who have been meeting about the search in closed-door executive sessions - had not settled on a particular consulting firm. But Highberger said a consultant would help attract more qualified applicants.

"I think we need to cast our net as wide as possible to identify every possible candidate we can," Highberger said. "Consultants know the people in the industry. They can go out and recruit. It is something we would not have the resources to do on our own."

City commissioners have scheduled another executive session for Tuesday. Highberger said commissioners need to come to a conclusion on which consulting firm to hire. He also said commissioners needed to craft a statement about what type of individual they're seeking for the job.

That may spark a philosophical discussion about what role the city manager should play. Traditionally, city managers can either be viewed as executives who implement decisions of elected officials, or leaders who actively give advice and guidance to commissioners as they set policy.

"That is something we need to be clear about before we start the hiring process," Highberger said. "My sense is that the majority of the commission is interested in a candidate who will be active and initiate changes."

Commissioners also have to decide how to proceed with the search for a new planning director. Longtime director Linda Finger resigned her post under pressure in December.

There's some sentiment on the commission that the search should be delayed until a new city manager is hired.

"I still think the city manager needs to ultimately have input on the hiring of the planning director," Amyx said.

But both Amyx and Highberger said commissioners were working well together on the search. The Journal-World learned that commissioners were not unanimous in seeking Wildgen's resignation. Commissioners Sue Hack, Mike Rundle and David Schauner sought the resignation, while Highberger and Amyx did not.

"We are unanimous in moving forward," Highberger said. "We're not going to dwell on the past. We're moving forward."


lunacydetector 12 years ago

just another example of our elected leaders throwing money down the drain.

any new hire is going to be replaced after our city commission gets replaced.

lunacydetector 12 years ago

i think there is going to be a big back lash against our sitting commissioners.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years ago

I agree, luny-- we need to get some good ole boys back in control of the commission who'll make decisions based soley on what's good for bidness.

LawrenceKSisgreat 12 years ago


"just another example of our elected leaders throwing money down the drain.

any new hire is going to be replaced after our city commission gets replaced."

How long was the previous city manager in place? How many different city commisions did we have during that time?

Just goes to show the human nature factor of the big equation of life again.

Does not matter what it is, does not matter when it is, does not matter who it is, someone, somewhere, sometime will always be discontent.

Is'nt it ironic how complaining about something makes us feel happy.

Just imagine how unhappy we would be if we were happy all the time (I include myself in this).

one_persons_opinion 12 years ago

You suppose they'll pick an African American for the job (man or woman)?

badger 12 years ago

opo -

I would sincerely hope that the choice of an employee would depend more on qualification for the job than on skin color.

You never know, though. More important decisions have been made based on stupider criteria than race.

one_persons_opinion 12 years ago

I was just wondering what the chances are/would be.

one_persons_opinion 12 years ago

It doesn't make any difference. I was just wondering if they would do it, that's all!

You know, like Topeka did recently.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years ago

You suppose they'll pick a badger for the job?

lunacydetector 12 years ago

what i think will happen is the city commission progressives will get thrown out. then all their cronies they gave positions to will get replaced by reasonable people. this theory applies to the city manager and the planning director they pick as well.

chances are, right before the next election, they will have hired both replacements so these replacements will have a chance of carrying on the anti-growth mentality of the progressive movement and keep the progressive cronies in high places on the various committees.

just think about merrill and bozo. they are active participants in the city government and they don't want any growth.

i think there can be a group elected who don't pander to the chamber or the hippies, since the chamber has been infiltrated by the hippies anyway.

i think change should happen in every facet of this government. i never knew a chamber of commerce would be such a strong advocate in tax increases - probably because the majority of their members don't own a business, or the people who have a voice in the chamber don't own or run a business and are university employed.

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