Mayor points to pitfalls in posting Joliet city manager job

Taking applications for the city manager job could become complicated.

Mayor Bob O’Dekirk said the city likely will have to bring in outside attorneys and maybe other hiring professionals if Joliet is going to advertise the job.

O’Dekirk called it a conflict of interest for city staff to be involved in the hiring process, because they work for interim City Manager Martin Shanahan, who would be an applicant for the job.

“We’re probably going to have to hire outside attorneys to do this,” O’Dekirk said at the Tuesday meeting of the City Council.

The council is divided over whether to advertise the job or promote Shanahan without interviewing other candidates.

O’Dekirk and a council minority want to make Shanahan the permanent city manager without considering other candidates. They have argued in part that the city should not spend money for a search firm.

Proponents for advertising the job have suggested it be posted without hiring a search firm.

But O’Dekirk said staff should not be involved in the process at all because “everybody works for Marty.”

Councilman Michael Turk, who favors opening the job for applicants, suggested the city determine the cost of a hiring service.

“I think our human resource department can contact some firms,” Turk said. “See what it costs to do a search and come back to us in a couple of weeks.”

“It’s a conflict of interest,” O’Dekirk replied, and said that the human resources director also is supervised by the city manager.

O’Dekirk said the city would have to hire outside help to oversee the application process, review potential candidates, and do background checks on candidates.

“We certainly can’t be the first city to hire a city manager outside from coming up through the ranks,” Councilwoman Sherri Reardon said after the mayor described the lengths the city may have to go through to post the job.

O’Dekirk said the Joliet situation is “very unique.”

“We never had a guy or a woman who had the job for a year and a half, and had to interview for the job,” he said.

Shanahan, who was serving as the city attorney, has been interim city manager for seven months since David Hales left. He also filled in for nearly seven months before Hales came on board in November 2017.

After Hales left with a separation agreement, the mayor and council decided to wait until after the April elections to consider what to do about filling the job permanently.

O’Dekirk said Tuesday he will probably form a committee to develop a plan for the hiring process.