Letter: Residents’ city manager input not passed on to city council

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I would like to say how happy many of us in town were over the selection of a professional search firm for the city manager search. We had high expectations especially when it was announced that there would be three listening sessions for residents to give input on qualities they wanted in a city manager. We were further encouraged when it was posted on the city website, and I quote, “A report containing all the comments and feedback received will be compiled by the recruiter and provided to the Laguna Beach City Council.”

Imagine my surprise when I found out that this was not done. The City Council, to my knowledge, has not been provided with any feedback or compilation of comments or tabulation of comments by residents. So residents are not only being ignored again by the City Council but we wasted our time, energy and thoughtful consideration of what we want. This was a red herring, a sleight of hand to make us feel like we had relevance but without any feedback from the search firm to city council, it is all moot. A big zero. Residents marginalized again. 

We paid this search firm close to $30,000 for this search. I heard that some pretty terrific experienced current city managers have applied for the job. So is it going to be just the opinions of the five city councilmembers that make this decision in a vacuum, ignoring residents? I contacted Gary Philips at the search firm last week to ask why feedback was not provided as stated. I have not heard back. 

Why councilmembers, when it was on the city’s website and residents were led to believe you would receive the results of these listening sessions, were you not given the feedback and why have none of you requested it to make a more informed decision on a new city manager? Is it because the fix is in and it won’t matter anyway?

Michèle Monda, Laguna Beach

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  1. Michele, what the City led residents to believe was part of the recruitment process is what is seriously concerning and is the basis for questioning city management and the city council and as a result leaving us with a lack of trust. What professional entity is hired to provide a public input/survey opportunity and doesn’t produce detailed results? Guess the Council didn’t need the input in their CM replacement effort. Minds already made up?

    “We were further encouraged when it was posted on the city website, and I quote, “A report containing all the comments and feedback received will be compiled by the recruiter and provided to the Laguna Beach City Council.”

    This was no mistake or oversight. It appears to me to be an attempt to simply placate constituents. And IMO, it clearly shows that this Council isn’t interested in listening to residents and have agendas that don’t include working on behalf of all LB taxpayers. Can’t wait to see how much more their decision making will be costing us in the future.

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