New Hope

November 12, 2008

Susan George reported to the Council at the October 28th meeting, that she began interviewing potential Planning Director candidates last week, while the executive search firm is still making outreach contacts and accepting applications. It is still not clear what process will be followed. Susan will be meeting with the recruiter “to lay out the process going forward from this point”. Of course, since the COWncil doesn’t meet again until November 25th, no information will be forthcoming on the process until after the deed is done. Typical COWncil transparency.

Here is what Susan reports so far. The process will involve an interview panel but no indication is given as to who will be on the panel, another wave of interviews with Susan, and reference and background checks. She also intends to use the services of a psychologist “again with this position”. Did a psychologist interview Hope? If so, is it the same psychologist? What is the psychologist looking for? Submissiveness or independence and leadership? Ability to follow orders or fair mindedness and, a conscience? All we can say is hopefully the psychologist used this time is better at his or her job than the last time. We support less craziness, not more, in this important job with our Town.

Once Susan has narrowed the field to the top two or three candidates, she will arrange for a time, probably in late November, for the Town Council to meet and interview the finalists in closed session. (We’re just wondering, isn’t it a violation of the Brown Act to have a closed personnel session on the appointment of the Planning Director when the Council does not have an official voice in that appointment?)

As you know, Management Partners, a consultant firm with a long and cozy relationship with our Town, was hired to search for candidates for Hope’s old position (now shrunk down to just plain old Planning Director – not Planning Director, Assistant Town Manager, Dictator, and Junior Minister in Charge of Special Favors). We wrote about it here. We wonder if the new Planning Director is also going to be the Building Official and, if so, will he or she actually meet the qualifications for that position? Read our story about the Town Building Official not being properly credentialed. here.

The true villain in the Hope saga obviously is Town Manager Susan George herself! If you remember, she handpicked Hope and shepherded her through the hiring process, not to mention that she defended her many, many times over the years, despite Hope’s obvious favoritism and arbitrariness. We are concerned and think that you should be concerned that history will repeat itself and that our Town Manager will find herself another minion to control and continue the dysfunctional Woodside development process.

We wonder if Irwin Kaplan will be involved in the interview and selection process. He did a good job for the Town in his previous role as a consultant and seems to be doing an excellent job as interim Planning Director (see our refresher course on Mr. Kaplan here). While he may not be trying to correct all of Hope’s mistakes, he does know planning law and from what we hear he seems to be a voice of reason. We want to be sure that the process is designed to find the best person for the job and Irwin’s involvement would be a positive thing.

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