The dome of silence

Mum’s the word when it comes to the search for a new city manager

By Andre Coleman 07/10/2008

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It’s not quite as funny as an episode of “Get Smart,” but when it comes to wheedling out secrets concerning the next city manager, it seems to take more than a shoe phone, a sexy assistant and smooth talk to get any information out of city officials.

But this is what we do know about the search being conducted under City Hall’s Dome of Silence: Only three candidates remain in the race for the position vacated by 10-year City Manager Cynthia Kurtz last year and temporarily held by Police Chief Bernard Melekian. Melekian was the top candidate for the post until he announced recently he was opting out to lead the California Police Chiefs Association in March. He will return to the Police Department later this year after the city manager’s position has been filled, which appears may happen sooner than later.

Mayor Bill Bogaard said the council probably would reveal its selection later this month.

“We are reassured with the large number of highly qualified applicants. The City Council is working hard to take full advantage of the qualified individuals who are interested in the position,” Bogaard said, careful not to let any names slip. “The council continues in its hopes to have selected a city manager by the end of this month. Of course, it will take a period of time for the new city manager to wind up affairs in their current position. Our hope is the start date would be in early September.”

Names that seem to keep coming up include those of former Director of Finance Jay Goldstone, currently the chief operating officer for the city of San Diego, and Pasadena’s Director of Planning and Development Richard Bruckner.

Neither man returned calls for comment on this story. Interestingly, four City Hall staffers did call us to ask us why we wanted to speak with Bruckner soon after the paper called his office. One person even called just to let us know that the list of candidates is confidential, but no word directly from Bruckner.

The folks at Bob Murray & Associates, which conducted the $30,000 city manager search, did not return phone calls either. Calls to several council members proved just as fruitless.

It seems that at the beginning of the process, the council agreed not to reveal any information in order to protect the integrity of the process.

Councilwoman Jacque Robinson did answer questions about qualifications of possible local candidates, but after that conversation, Robinson called back to make sure it was understood she was neither confirming nor denying anyone’s candidacy.  

“We’re all under the cone of silence when it comes to the city manager search,” said equally tight-lipped Councilwoman Margaret McAustin.

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