Council poised to interview 3 for manager's job

By Thaddeus Miller / tmiller@losbanosenterprise.comFebruary 22, 2013 

Interviews for the city's top official will commence next week.

Los Banos City Council members will interview three city manager candidates on March 2 and 3 in the City Hall Council Chambers. Citing legal issues, council members remain mum on whether two original candidates, interviewed last year before the process broke down, remain in the pool.

"I can't speak to you about the candidates, the individuals we're interviewing," Mayor Pro-Tem Elizabeth Stonegrove said. "I can tell you that we're interviewing three people. We were given strict instructions by our city attorney."

Mayor Mike Villalta also declined to speak about last year's candidates.

Teri Black-Brann of recruiting firm Teri Black & Co. said she attended the League of California Cities city managers meeting in San Francisco last month.

"We did a lot of networking and have talked to a lot of officials over the last few weeks," Black-Brann said.

City Council could conceivably hire a city manager by early March and have that person in place later that month, Black-Brann said in January.

The council last interviewed candidates in the fall, and eliminated hopefuls from a group of 40 until two candidates remained in October.

After a former council member missed a meeting because of surgical complications, members of the council, candidates and the recruiter failed to reach a date for rescheduling.

The search effectively stalled during the November election, and the recruiter recommended City Council postpone the process until after new board members were seated.

Before continuing the process, Black-Brann requested $4,000 more in December. The additional fee did not exceed the original budgeted amount for recruitment of $29,500, according to city staff.

The city is not currently paying a full city manager's salary. Acting City Manager and Police Chief Gary Brizzee is covering two jobs at a monthly salary of $10,937, $770 more per month than he made as police chief alone. He's held both jobs since Nov. 1.

City manager candidate interviews are scheduled to begin at noon March 2 in closed chambers.

Enterprise reporter Thaddeus Miller can be reached at (209) 388-6562 or by email at tmiller@losbanosenterprise.com.

Enterprise reporter Thaddeus Miller can be reached at (209) 388-6562 or by email at tmiller@losbanos enterprise.com.

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