Commission begins city manager search
In light of Birmingham city manager Joe Valentine's recent resignation, the city commission agreed on Monday, October 19, to both engage a professional recruitment firm and to interview former city manager Tom Markus. A special meeting has been called to interview Markus on Friday, October 23, at 3 p.m. “For those who don't know, our city manager is leaving at the end of the year, and as a result we are faced with filling his position,” mayor Pierre Boutros began the conversation. Valentine said, “I will be completing my 24th year with the city of Birmingham in January, and I'm excited to see what else is out there.” He outlined for commissioners the process to fill his position, noting there are several ways to proceed, from selecting an internal candidate, as they did with him; an external candidate, by hiring a recruitment consultant agency which would engage with the commission, staff and the community, then would solicit applications, vet applicants and present a list of qualified candidates to the commission. They can also do a request for proposal (RFP) for a national recruitment firm. The commission hired a recruitment consulting agency when they hired former Ferndale City Manager Robert Bruner in December 2010 afer Markus left his position with Birmingham. “I would also like to acknowledge that I have been contacted by former city manager Tom Markus, who is interested in the position,” Boutros said. Markus was Birmingham city manager from May 1989 until November 2010. “The question of how we move forward as a city is really important. Change is also an opportunity,” mayor pro tem Therese Longe said. “Following our interest in deliberate process, I would like to recommend we proceed on parallel paths – to proceed with the recruitment process but also invite Mr. Markus in for a conversation.” “I think the opportunity Mr. Markus is offering us is such a unique opportunity, before we embark on a national search,” said commissioner Rackeline Hoff, after expressing her sadness over Valentine's resignation, noting, “We're not going to get much better.” “Thinking back to when Mr. Markus left, it was an interesting process,” commissioner Stuart Sherman said. “By having a list of interested consulting recruitment firms and a conversation with Mr. Markus, we would also have to interview interested firms. There's nothing wrong with a dual track before we spend any money.” Valentine said it would cost approximately $25,000 to hire a recruitment firm, and would likely take four to five months. Commissioners voted 6-1, with Hoff voting no, to proceed on both tracks.