Three Finalists Selected for City of Shoreline City Manager Position

Thursday, January 20, 2011

from the City of Shoreline

The Shoreline City Council has selected three finalists to move to the final round of interviews for the city manager position. Current City Manager, Robert Olander, retires on February 23. 

The three finalists are:
  • Julie Underwood, the current Assistant City Manager for the City of Shoreline; 
  • Brian Wilson, Chief of Police for the City of Federal Way; 
  • Larry Bauman, City Manager for the City of Snohomish.
“We had a large pool of very qualified candidates to choose from and we believe these three individuals best exemplify the values we want to see in a City Manager for Shoreline,” stated Mayor Keith McGlashan. “Selecting a city manager is one of the most important decisions the City Council can make and I am very pleased at how well the Council has worked together through this process.”
Julie Underwood has been the Assistant City Manager for Shoreline since 2002. Brian Wilson has served as the Police Chief of Federal Way since 2006. He served as the interim City Manager from 2009 to 2010 when the City was transitioning from a council-manager to a mayor-council form of government. Larry Bauman has been the City Manager of Snohomish since 2002. Mr. Bauman served as the assistant city manager for the City of Shoreline from 1996 to 2002, with a brief stint as interim city manager in 2000.

The City hired Prothman, an executive search firm, to help with the search and hiring of a new city manager. Prothman received over 45 applications for the position. Of those, 13 were chosen by the City Council to go through an initial interview with Prothman. From the results of those interviews, the City Council chose the three finalists.

The final interviews will take place on Sunday, January 23 during an executive session of the City Council under the authority of RCW 42.30.110(1)(g). The City Council and the City’s Leadership Team will interview the finalists in separate panel interviews. On Monday, January 24, the Council will deliberate during another executive session.

It is anticipated that a new city manager will be selected by early February.


wolf,  January 20, 2011 at 10:38 AM  

So far as I can tell after searching the internet and finding little information, none of the three finalists for Shoreline’s city manager come close to possessing Bob Olander's training and experience.

Bauman has the most experience, but only in small towns except for his "brief stint as interim city manager in 2000" in Shoreline.

Underwood's only job that I could find is the one she has now, Shoreline deputy city manager, which would mean that she has never had the full responsibilities of a city manager even in a small town.

Wilson is a police chief with something like a year as interim city manager in Federal Way, a larger city than Shoreline, but police chief skills are far from those of a city manager.

The Councilmembers undoubtedly have a great deal more information than the bit that I’ve been able to glean.

Nevertheless, I would think that at the very least the finalists would have been presented to the public and public input sought in advance of the City Council’s decision. The choice will seriously impact all of our lives.

Lastly, why was the search so narrowly limited to candidates from the Pacific Northwest?

Anonymous,  January 20, 2011 at 12:15 PM  

How quickly we forget about Brian Wilson - from the Seattle Times awhile back:

There is a reason they call them "CrackBerrys."

Federal Way's police chief on Thursday issued a public apology for a minor traffic collision that took place while he was checking his BlackBerry in his unmarked police car.

In a news release beginning with the sentence "Federal Way Police Chief Brian Wilson is mortified," the city outlined what occurred and what steps were taken.

Wilson had stopped for a red light at the intersection of South 324th Street and Pacific Highway South in Federal Way on March 18 and glanced down at his BlackBerry to view newspaper headlines and e-mails. He then mistakenly thought traffic was moving again, took his foot off the brake and hit the car in front of him.

No one was injured and the cars weren't damaged, the department said.

But City Manager Neal Beets conducted a review on March 24, concluding the collision was preventable. He issued a verbal reprimand to Wilson, consistent with action that has been taken against other Federal Way officers involved in a first collision with less than $700 damage, according to the city.

City spokeswoman Linda Farmer said Wilson was not ticketed because, under department policy, officers are not cited for civil infractions.

Instead, their conduct is reviewed through the internal disciplinary process, which sometimes can be harsher, Farmer said.

"I take full responsibility," Wilson said in the release, which noted he has never had an at-fault accident in 28 years as a police officer.

In an interview, Wilson said the accident prompted some media inquiries, but that he issued the statement because he believes in openness and the importance of traffic safety.

"If you know me well, that is part of who I am as a police chief," he said. "And I think it is part of the culture of the city. We take the public trust very seriously."

The maximum fine for reading a mobile device while driving is $124, but jumps to $175 when an accident occurs, according to the State Patrol.

Anonymous,  January 20, 2011 at 3:15 PM  

So the city council at no point in this process thought of asking the public what they might want in a new city manager? And they are going to conduct the final interviews in secret during an executive session during a special meeting to be held on a Sunday?

So much for transparency and open government, it doesn't exist in Shoreline.

Curious,  January 20, 2011 at 3:34 PM  

Following up on Wolf's comments, I'd like to know how these candidates measure up to Bob Olander, who's set a "wow" standard for our city.

Here's a quick impressive bio for Olander from the city's web page:

"Bob Olander was appointed Shoreline City Manager March 2006. Previously, Bob was Shoreline’s Deputy City Manager from May 2002 to December 2005 and Interim City Manager from January 2006 until his appointment as City Manager. Bob’s experience includes over 30 years in city government including 14 years with the City of Des Moines—seven years as City Manager and seven years as Assistant City Manager. He also served as City Manager for the cities of Ocean Shores and Anacortes. Bob holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a Masters of Public Administration from the University of Washington."

On the surface neither Underwood nor Wilson appear to qualify under the Olander "standard"; only Bauman appears to approach it.

Can't the city council let us the public have more info about what criteria they're using and let us have a say before they decide?

There's still time to get this right if they postpone the decision so they can get some input from the folks who will be paying the bill and living with the consequences.

Lamplighter,  January 20, 2011 at 4:05 PM  

According to the article, the City Council will meet in executive session along with the "City’s Leadership Team".

Who exactly is on this so-called "City’s Leadership Team" or is that a secret too?

Who is supposed to be included in an executive session? I'm no authority on council rules, but I've never heard of unknown and unnamed outsiders being part of an executive session.

Personnel inquiries are properly held in executive session, both by tradition and by law.

But everything leading up to the executive session must and should be out in the open.

Otherwise there is bound to be suspicion of the process and much resistance to and grumbling about the decision for the entire tenure of the appointee and those who did the appointing while operating in the dark.

Let's install some light to shine on this venture.

Anonymous,  January 20, 2011 at 4:34 PM  

Why did the city staff hire Prothman & Associates? Was it because Bob Olander worked with Prothman at the City of Des Moines?

Prothman, whose own resume includes stints as the City Manager of Des Moines, worked there when Bob Olander was Assistant City Manager, must be nice to pay one last favor to an old friend using public money before you retire:

Groundhog,  January 20, 2011 at 4:46 PM  

What’s going on here? Executive sessions are not interview sessions – those have to be public. And they have been in the past.

Executive sessions in connection with hiring or appointing have only one legal basis: they are to allow private, frank and free discussion among the council members themselves of their evaluations of the persons being considered for a position. Period.

If this goes forward as planned, the appointment could be on shaky legal ground. Not a great beginning.

Anonymous,  January 20, 2011 at 5:24 PM  

Prothman was accused of not performing any due diligence on the hire for the City of Issaquah, here is a complaint filed in October by the Federal Way Police Guild against Brian Wilson:

The issue at hand is the new Lieutenant's contract which was recently signed.

Elaine Phelps,  January 21, 2011 at 1:40 AM  

In view of some of the above comments, i have sent the following e-mail to the city attorney's office. If I receive a reply before the Sunday council meeting, I'll post it here.

This is to inquire about the notice of the Sunday, January 23, 2011 Special Meeting of the Shoreline City Council that appeared in the January 2o, 2011 Shoreline Area News.

The notice states:

The final interviews will take place on Sunday, January 23 during an executive session of the City Council under the authority of RCW 42.30.110(1)(g). The City Council and the City’s Leadership Team will interview the finalists in separate panel interviews. On Monday, January 24, the Council will deliberate during another executive session.

The RCW section cited above pertains to the evaluation of an applicant in executive session, but the use of it to interview potential candidates seems not to be in accord with it:

(g) To evaluate the qualifications of an applicant for public employment or to review the performance of a public employee. However, subject to RCW 42.30.140(4), discussion by a governing body of salaries, wages, and other conditions of employment to be generally applied within the agency shall occur in a meeting open to the public, and when a governing body elects to take final action hiring, setting the salary of an individual employee or class of employees, or discharging or disciplining an employee, that action shall be taken in a meeting open to the public;

Perhaps I have misunderstood the announcement, and the interviews are to be public but the Council discussion to evaluate the candidates is to be in executive session.

I would very much appreciate your clarifying this for me.

Thank you.

Anonymous,  January 21, 2011 at 12:20 PM  

Great comments and research. I share the concerns about the closed-door session on a Sunday, Olander's link to Prothman, and even the poor judgment demonstrated with using a Blackberry in their vehicle as mentioned. The email re: Sunday was the first notice I got of something, I guessed it might be to do with the City Manager, then saw a story in another online publication about Bauman. I went over here to find these stories and posts. Ms. Underwood has never shown me the gravitas or the personality to be anything other than an assistant, while I'm shocked that a City Police Chief would be both interested in - and a finalist for - a City *Manager* job. I couldn't imagine the other way around, either, as they're two completely different types of positions. That leaves us with Bauman, who is a decent fellow who was allowed to go elsewhere to succeed and show his mettle as so many others are (interim [Shoreline Schools] Superintendent Nyland being another that comes to mind). Shoreline is fortunate to have an opportunity to get him back, he's by far the best choice of this trio, but I'm surprised there aren't others with the title "City Manager" already who would be finalists, as Shoreline voters just passed taxes to buoy their city's finances for years in the future, in essence overriding Eyman's property tax limit. I am glad not to see an expensive nationwide search for a candidate, there should be plenty in the Northwest who are capable and deserving of the job, and in our present financial times in particular, this would be a waste of public funds and time.

Elaine Phelps,  January 22, 2011 at 9:45 AM  

(Also posted at "Shoreline City Council to interview City Manager finalists on Sunday, Jan 23".)

The office of the city attorney responded to my request for clarification, and sums up the answer this way:

"The express requirement for public interviews of elected appointees and the absence of this requirement for employees supports the conclusion that closed interviews are permitted for employee applicants as part of the evaluation of qualifications."

To which my answer is this:

"This means that the Shoreline City Council is choosing to do this in secret because, in this case, the law does not prevent them from doing so."

Perhaps we need to change the law. Or . . .

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