A former interim borough manager in Haines could be in for a second round of that job. An assembly committee recommended public facilities director Brad Ryan for the position at their latest meeting. But, he’s not the only name in the running.
I wouldn’t be throwing my name in the ring if I hadn’t had a number of staff come to me and say ‘are you going to do this, will you do this?’ said public facilities director Brad Ryan. The Haines borough personnel committee recommended him to serve as interim manager at their latest meeting.
In December, the assembly voted 4-2 to terminate the contract of manager Bill Seward, leaving the position vacant heading into the new year. Until an interim manager is chosen, borough clerk Julie Cozzi is the acting manager.
The personnel committee consists of assembly members Margaret Friedenauer and Ron Jackson. Assemblyman Mike Case is the chair but was absent from this meeting. The borough manager also sits on the committee.
Assembly members Heather Lende, Tom Morphet and Tresham Gregg sat with the public.
Ryan is one of two people who expressed interest in the job. The other is Dave Palmer, a former city manager in Juneau, Craig and Petersburg.
Morphet said that’s who they should be considering for the job.
“I think Palmer can give us an example of how a person who is professionally been employed for many years as a manager does that job,” said Morphet.
He said he believes Palmer could be helpful in the process of choosing a new manager.
“When we go to hire a new manager we can use his example as a standard to which we can judge the next manager candidates,” said Morphet.
Lende and Gregg both said they’d like to see Palmer get an interview.
“When somebody offers to be an interim who’s had this kind of experience, I think we should talk with him,” said Lende.
“I don’t see any reason why we wouldn’t want to at least have an interview with Mr. Palmer. It seems like a very interesting and helpful contact that we can pursue at least for the moment and maybe sometime into the future,” said Gregg.
But others offered their support to Ryan, who has done the job in Haines before. Chief fiscal officer Jila Stuart filled in for Cozzi in the manger seat at the committee. She said there were two ways they could go.
“It seems like you guys could say it’s all about process, that’s what we do, let’s take a step back, let’s see who’s interested,” said Stuart. “Let’s have some quick interviews. Or you could say Brad’s willing, he’s got the support of staff, he’s got a track record. Let’s install him and move on.”
Ryan took on the same position around this time last year, after Dave Sosa resigned as manager in Nov. 2015.
Stuart read from an email Cozzi sent, recommending Ryan for the position.
“I recommend Brad for interim because he did it for six months last year and the assembly was pleased with him. His midterm evaluation was stellar,” read Stuart. “He submitted the FY17 budget so he knows the budget process. He is aware of the inner workings and issues of the borough. Finally, he is well liked by the staff and the public and he’s willing to do it.”
That sentiment was shared by others in the room, like tourism director Leslie Ross, who insisted the assembly take recommendations from borough staff into account when making their decision. Recommending Ryan, she said the turnover of managers – permanent and interim – is disruptive.
“Each time you have to go through all of your projects, what your budget is, what you’re trying to accomplish,” said Ross. “And if you do this for six months with an interim and then you have to do it again with whoever they’re replacing as a new manager. And as I said in my letter, that’s a year’s worth of transition.”
Friedenauer said she is in favor of making this as easy a transition as possible, and moved to recommend Ryan for the position to the assembly.
“We’re leaving the whole position in limbo right now, the longer we debate it as far as interim,” said Friedenauer. “And we’re not moving ahead with how we find a new permanent manager. And I think that’s the more important question.”
Ryan said he is only willing to take on the job if someone fills in for him in public facilities. The committee voted unanimously to recommend him for the position. They said they’re still interested in talking with Palmer about his offer and what he could bring to the transition. The assembly will review the recommendation at their next meeting on Dec. 10.