Councillors seek to extend city manager’s contract while they plan succession
City councillors aren’t waiting until the last minute to take action on the contract of 30-year City Manager Robert W. Healy. A policy order to be discussed Monday adds nine months to Healy’s contract, having it expire June 30, 2013, instead of Sept. 30.
It also proposes that councillor David Maher’s Government Operations and Rules Committee, “with the assistance of the city manager,” develop short-and long-term succession plans for when Healy leaves.
March 30, which marks six months to the end of Healy’s contract, is the deadline for either the councillors or Healy to announce the end of his time with the city and the anticipation of a well-paid retirement. But this policy order changing that schedule is listed with the names of seven councillors at the top, suggesting it will pass with at least those seven votes from among the nine councillors.
Ken Reeves is one of the missing names. He could not be reached by phone Saturday.
The other missing name is that of Craig Kelley, the only councillor in office at the time not to vote in favor of Healy’s current contract.
Kelley also proposed as far back as December 2010 that the council look at the possibility of retirements among high-level staff such as the city manager and city clerk. He was correct in seeing the potential for overlapping retirements from among the city’s longest-serving and oldest key personnel: Margaret Drury, the city clerk, retired last month after serving since 1992; Donald Drisdell, city solicitor since 2003 and assistant city solicitor before that, retired in January; and now the council is taking on Healy’s retirement.
But at the time, Kelley was blasted for an “insulting” and potentially discriminatory proposal aimed at, in the words of councillor Marjorie Decker, “how to move them along.”
Kelley said Saturday that he doubted he would support the proposal of the seven councillors (including two — Leland Cheung and Minka vanBeuzekom — who weren’t around for the previous contract negotiations).
“We should been talking about succession planning a year ago, but when I brought it up they said, ‘Oh no, we can’t talk about that that stuff.’ When I brought it up a month and a half ago, now Mayor [Henrietta] Davis, then councillor Davis, charter-righted it. This is an affirmative rehiring of the man and as I read it, changes nothing. We’re not saying anything about his terms of employment with the city save that we’re rehiring him for a relatively short period and then we’ll be where we are again,” Kelley said.
He suggested also that there were reasons he would prefer not to have a policy order pass that “kicks the can down the road”:
“We’re making an affirmative decision to hire someone who was at the heart of the Monteiro fiasco and has never apologized for it,” he said, referring to a civil rights lawsuit and two related cases that resulted in payouts by the city of more than $11 million after failed attempts to appeal a $4.5 million jury decision. “There’s no acknowledgment that the actions of this man cost the city, I don’t know — tens of millions of dollars. He hasn’t even told us what the final amount is. And there’s been no apology. At some point you your make moral judgments, and I’m just not comfortable moving forward on this. I personally don’t think I’ll support it.”
A message seeking comment was left with Maher on Saturday morning.