New Park Ridge boss hire on hold until election
A decision regarding Park Ridge Interim City Manager Shawn Hamilton's future with the city won't be made until after the April 9 election. | Joel Lerner~Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 25, 2013 6:12AM
PARK RIDGE — With the acting city manager’s employment set to expire this spring, Park Ridge officials are grappling with how to secure a permanent hire.
All plans for now are on hold, they decided, until after the April 9 election.
The Park Ridge City Council recommended on Monday to hire an executive recruiting firm once a new city council — and possibly mayor — is seated in May.
Human Resources Manager Mike Suppan, who compiled information on seven firms that submitted bids to the city last fall, asked officials to consider the timing of the search since potential candidates would likely want to know the city’s leadership before applying.
City Council members, however, had disparaging views on the timeline, and the overall process, for hiring Park Ridge’s top employee.
First Ward Alderman Joseph Sweeney supported extending interim city manager Shawn Hamilton’s tenure permanently in lieu of paying for a search firm’s services, which, according to the bids, would cost between $17,900 and $23,500.
Hamilton has served in a temporary capacity with the city since Aug. 11, 2012. He had previously expressed interest in retaining the position beyond the May 1 end date of his agreement.
Sweeney lauded Hamilton’s efforts to hire new personnel and cut costs, and said he should be thanked with job security for his performance thus far.
“He is one meeting away from extinction,” he said. “Where would we be if he walked out? ... Let’s give him the contract.”
Though other City Council members echoed Sweeney’s praise for Hamilton, most agreed a formal search process would ensure the city explored all options.
Seventh Ward Alderman Marty Maloney said officials “owe it to the taxpayers” to find the right person for the job. The matter, he added, is much larger than drawing up a contract to fill a position.
“I’m not interested in putting together a sweet deal like you guys did for Jim Hock,” he said, referring to the former city manager ousted last spring.
Hock had been issued an interest-free home loan by the city upon his hiring in 2008. His early termination had also put the city on the hook for about $123,000 in severance payments.
Hock’s inability to pay back the loan since his termination last May has required the city to get involved with the sale of the property to collect the outstanding balance.
Sixth Ward Alderman Marc Mazzuca suggested Hamilton stay for at least six months after the City Council reassembles to provide a “responsible transition.”
Fourth Ward Alderman Sal Raspanti, who is not seeking reelection this spring, wanted to see a hire happen as soon as possible, noting the matter had been delayed long enough.
Though City Clerk Betty Henneman does not participate in City Council votes, the discussion prompted her to voice support for hiring the acting city manager for the sake of stability.
Employee turnover over the past two years has resulted in many new faces trying to find their way, she said, adding that Hamilton has been able to successfully navigate between them all.
“We’ve been through this process so many times,” Henneman said. “Now you want to throw it all up in the air again and see what falls to the ground.”
Mayor Dave Schmidt said he would like to see the city undergo a process for filling the city manager position despite commending Hamilton for a job well done.
Schmidt on Tuesday morning issued a press release expressing appreciation “for the strong vote of confidence given by the City Council” of Hamilton.
“The comments from the aldermen last night confirm that Mr. Hamilton has helped bring about a marked improvement in the professionalism and accountability of city management,” Schmidt said in the release.
“I am personally pleased with his efforts, and I am gratified that the aldermen and members of staff who have spoken to me are as well,” Schmidt added.