New City Manager
July 10, 2011, 6:31 PM
Filed under: City Commission, City Staff

The Search Begins

At a workshop on July 6, the city commission discussed the process for seeking a new city manager.  They decided to hire a head-hunting firm to conduct a national search.  After directing staff to come up with a short list of such firms, they discussed some of the requirements they feel are important in a new manager.  They talked a lot about whether to compel the manager to live in Hollywood. Some thought it essential, others expressed concern that such a requirement would limit the qualified applicant pool.

It seems to us that the important thing is not where the manager lives, but what the manager does to become informed and keep current with all aspects of our city.  The manager must have the ability to take the pulse of the city quickly and get to know, understand, and value Hollywood’s diverse stakeholders.  Early on, the new manager must become familiar with Hollywood’s differing neighborhoods and treat them all fairly, not favoring one area over another.  The same is true for the business community — and not just the beach and downtown.  Central and West Hollywood are important as well.

While the workshop was well run, the elected officials on the whole didn’t get very specific in discussing the desired qualifications of a new manager. They all want a “super-star” manager, but did not define what that means for Hollywood. We’ve thought about it and suggest the following as qualities we believe essential in Hollywood’s new manager given the current state of our city:

  • High ethical and moral values
  • Excellent communicating, listening, negotiating, and diplomatic skills
  • Proven record of attracting and retaining high quality, experienced managers and treating all employees fairly
  • The ability to identify and build support for a common vision that the elected officials, staff, and the community will get behind, so the city can move forward harmoniously
  • An understanding of the importance of outreach and early discussion with people who are affected by proposed projects or ideas
  • The willingness to speak the truth, however unpopular, when the well-being of the city requires it.

Some commissioners thought it essential that the new manager be able to find new revenue sources and bring in development.  We believe these skills are crucial for Hollywood’s success but perhaps not the manager’s primary role.  The manager’s job is to hire professional staff with these abilities and enable them to work effectively for the betterment of the city.  In short, the manager should manage but not micromanage budget, development and other city staff. The manager must inspire trust and ensure both top-notch results and high ethical behavior from every city employee.

The search is now under way and expected to take several months.


I find it biased and insulting that you offer your OPINION about the political tactics that the PBA employs. Firstly, that is what the electoral process is all about, garnering support for the candidates that support you. Don’t the candidates do the same thing? They say what they think the public wants to hear to garner support. They go out the day before and lobby people, am I right? Secondly, you want the police to be in your building when YOU need help, but when they are asking for YOUR help to support the attack on them you don’t want them there. Hollywood Police officers have been gutted, no equipment, no training, no pay, no support from the community or their employer. When a criminal is arrested there is no overtime, what do you think is going to happen to that case? DId that criminal break into your house? Rob you? Sexually assault someone? Can’t have it both ways. Gutting and destroying the police is NOT the answer. I want a SAFE community.

Comment by S

You don’t say HOW MUCH they have spent so far and HOW MUCH they will spend in this effort to find a new City Manager. Once again, it seems like MONEY is no object.

Comment by S

While profanity is not needed, I do agree with the email sender that it is unreasonable to expect someone to sell their home in this housing downturn just to be in Hollywood.

To LJ: Hollywood is not relatively small compared to Chicago, it’s WAY smaller. Chicago proper is close to 3 million people. Milwaukee is approaching 1 million. Hollywood has less than 150k.

Personally, I couldn’t care where the person lives as long as s/he is skilled and can get this city back on track. Let’s focus on what matters.

Comment by Tchaka

We’ve received a comment against a residency requirement for current Hollywood employees which we could not publish because it contained abusive language. However, this commenter made a legitimate point that we think deserves to be aired. The comment said it defies common sense to require the many city employees who don’t live in Hollywood to sell their houses (in this market?), to move to Hollywood. In addition, the commenter asked where the cutoff point would be if “nearby” rather than strict Hollywood residency were required: Dania but not Cooper City, for example?

Comment by Balance Sheet Blog

Residency requirements for upper level management should certainly be required. I have family in Milwaukee and know that the city requires all employees to live in the city. When you are hired by the city and not already a city resident, you have 6 months to move into the city. People understand that is a condition of accepting a municipal job.

Although Hollywood is relatively small in comparison to Milwaukee or Chicago, it is by no means a small town, and requiring upper level management to relocate within the city boundaries within a certain time period of being hired seems reasonable.

Comment by LJ

Residency in Chicago and in Hollywood are two VERY different things. Chicago is huge, Hollywood is small. The pool of candidates is in the millions in Chicago, not so in Hollywood. I can understand living near Hollywood at a minimum, but to require being in is going to severely limit the potential pool.

Comment by Tchaka

I concur with Jim Stoodley’s comments for the most part. Executive Management, in all departments should have residency requirements. Ditto, Take home cars should be limited to those who have residency.
Regarding the natioal search firm hiring: as a former Municipal Procurement management person, this is something that should be done only after ascertaining the firm hired has a great track record. It is very common to put our a Request for Qualifications/Proposal for these services. Although the price thrown out there of $25,000 may not seem a high price to pay, this does not include many services, including interviews, transportasion, etc. This can easily become double. With the age of technology, much of this can be accomplished on internet video interviews. As to head hunters meeting with the Commissioners, this is standard. WHY? Because they do have their agendas and want anyone considered tobe on the same page with them. This is a big part of the problem, interference. Although the City Manager is one of two persons hired directly by the Commission (City Atty being the other) Commissioners must have a good worjking relationship with the Manager, but how much ibnterference and influence has caused the failures of the past 2 CM’s. Let’s cut to the chase here – until the Commissioners take responsibility for their actions and commission votes, there will not be any hope for this City to become one othr cities hold up as a successful model. I sincerely doubt anyone can point to us and say, WOW. Wish we did things like Hollywood!

Comment by Linda Wilson

You’re absolutely right, on all counts. Hope everyone’s listening.

Comment by IB

As a former resident of Chicago, which requires residency within the city, I believe that every individual working in the city of Hollywood and deriving an income from the taxpayers should live within the city. Some say that it would limit the pool of talent but my theory is that if someone wants to work for the city, they be required to move into the city. This would be a requirement for every employee including police and fire personnel. Revisions should be made and of course, this would apply to new hires,but incentives can be given to existing employees if they move into the city. I also believe that only police that live within the city be permitted to take home vehicles. Why do we need our police department vehicles in other locations. Is it not prudent financially to keep our emergency vehicles close by if an officer is needed and not dispatch someone from far reaches of the county?

Comment by Jim Stoodley

One of the most important traits for a CM, ability to weed out dead wood, and waste within the existing structure of City government. I believe residency for a City Manager is needed. The talent required will not be limited by residency requirement. It is expected. Hollywood was only one of a few that did NOT make this a requirement. It is commonly referred to as “vested interest”.

Comment by Linda Wilson

I see your points and agree with them. I’ve even considered bringing up the possibility of giving some incentives for city employees to live in Hollywood. Why not offer some sort of home buying assistance to city employees? The city applies for federal funding to provide first time home buyers with assistance. Why not offer a similar deal for city employees. Maybe even a CRA home buying assistance program would be worth considering. There are plenty of foreclosed homes that the CRA could purchase and sell to employees at a reduced rate. It would boost tax revenue, serve the employee well and keep good residents in the city of Hollywood. It would also offset some of the salary cuts the city has imposed on the employees. It would also increase an employee’s sense of pride in the city. Another option to consider…When I was in the military, we were provided with our own gas station on base with lower prices per gallon. I’m not sure if the city gets a premium price for purchasing fuel in bulk, but if it does maybe it could pass on this savings to the employees by setting up an employee gas pump ( the employee would still pay for gas, just at a cheaper rate. The cost wouldn’t be passed on to the taxpayer though because the city bought the gas at a discounted rate). Another possibility would be lower utility charges, etc. The bottom line is, forcing someone to do something they don’t want to do will cause resentment. Providing incentives will probably compel them to enthusiastically comply.

Comment by Brian Wilkie

I do feel it is important for the city manager to live in Hollywood and see and live with our strengths and weaknesses. If you can go home, and take your salary to a different city, then the problems can go away. If your children walk to school (down Federal Highway) or your wife shops for groceries at Publix on Young Circle . . . you will know, as the citizens know, what is going on. Just driving anywhere in the city will tell you and remind you daily that we need to do something about litter. And, you will then be more likely to speak about these things to code or the police. If they don’t live here the issues can, and as we have seen in the past, the issues can disappear. The salaries leaving Hollywood are also important. If city hall’s workers and department heads lived here and spent their salaries here we would have a lot more folks going downtown for dinner and maybe even be able to keep a few more businesses open. Do we think this city isn’t great enough to have our police, fire, and city employees live in it? We have affordable neighborhoods, large or small homes, and a great little town next to the ocean. We definitely need the folks who work here and we pay enormous amounts of money to, to live with us and contribute to making our city what it can be. I feel like we are sending the salaries of our staff (our tax dollars) to build better cities all over our south Florida neighborhood. We need them to help better Hollywood.

Comment by Tiffany

In your response to my comment you state that the firm tasked with finding a new city manager will speak to each of the commissioners individually. I’m left to assume then that the firm will have to combine all of the commissioners’ thoughts on the matter and formulate a comprehensive ‘list’ which encompasses the opinions and thoughts of ALL the commissioners? This seems to be right in line with this city’s dysfunctional manner of dealing with many other issues and tasks. With each commissioner presumably having their own agenda and set of priorities, I doubt the firm will be able to locate a suitable candidate who satisfies the vast list of possible demands supplied by each commissioner. This method seems inefficient. Why not approach this with more unity and collaboration? I agree with your suggestion… put the commissioners and mayor in a room with the interim city manager and budget/finance director to discuss the immediate and long term priorities for Hollywood. Once these priorities have been established, the criteria for an ideal candidate can be agreed upon by the group. Then, the agreed upon characteristics and skills can be presented to the firm so they can begin a search.

Comment by Brian Wilkie

A couple of replies here.

1. Helen Chervin asks how much the search firm would cost the city. The cost won’t be known until the city picks the firm but staff estimated the cost in the $20,000 – $25,000 realm.

2. Brian Wilkie deplores the fact that the commissioners did not make many specific suggestions about city manager qualifications at their workshop. Once a search firm is selected, we’re told that firm will meet individually with each commissioner to get their thinking on the matter. One drawback to this approach is that we (the public) won’t know what ideas each commissioner puts forward. Another drawback is that each commissioner will not have the benefit of the other commissioners’ thinking. Sometimes they can convince each other of a better approach. But this “clash of ideas” will be missing in one-on-one interviews.

Comment by Balance Sheet Blog

“… the elected officials on the whole didn’t get very specific in discussing the desired qualifications of a new manager.” How unfortunate that the city’s leaders weren’t capable of honing in on the important factors involved in making this decision. As you’ve aptly pointed out, establishing a list of specific qualifications and characteristics is required prior to embarking on this search. The importance of where the new city manager resides pales in comparison to the list of qualifications you submitted. Perhaps a change at the City Commissioner level is in store as well. We have to ask if these leaders are truly capable of pointing our city in the right direction. On the other hand, finding a qualified city manager may be easier than finding able and willing city commissioners.

Comment by Brian Wilkie

why dont they hire from within the city, maby promote someone familiar with the job that he or she will be promoted to also we should make the people responsible for aproving the last managers contract pay for it !!!! NO MORE GOLDEN PARACHUTES

Comment by danny

As always, you’ve got it right. I don’t know if the majority of the Commission has the political will to do it. We’ll see. I’ll send your comments to them and will be interested to see the responses, if any..

Comment by Charlotte Greenbarg

It’s difficult for me to have a lot of confidence in anything our commissioners do. If one believes that past performance is an indication of future performance how can we believe that now our commissioners can solve this problem. In a very real sense the commissioners created this budget problem by their inactions and their inability to ask tough questions of the city manager. Now, we are to believe that they will successfully deal with the problem they created. I don’t think so.

Comment by Paul Klein

These bullets points should be for the Mayor and Commissioners as well. If the Commissioners of each district followed these requirements, the city would not be in this situation today. The last point goes for all Officials of Hollywood.Not just the Manager. What is the cost for the head hunter.

Helen Chervin

Comment by Helen Chervin

Once again you have hit nail on the head. The Commissioners would do well to take your guidelines to heart. If they were followed we will in all probability have an excellent manager.
Sara E. Wolfer

Comment by Sara E. Wolfer

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