City manager slate looks solid, competent

Amarillo City Council members might have delivered their constituents an early Christmas present.

It comes in the form of a slate of five finalists for city manager, each of whom appears qualified, competent and able to lead the administration of a city on the move.

To be totally candid, the on-paper quality of the finalists surprises me, given the tempest, turmoil and tumult that’s been City Hall’s curse for the past year. Councilman Mark Nair believes the quality of the finalists is a testament to the perception beyond the city limits that Amarillo is a fine place to work and do business.

One of the finalists, interestingly, is Bob Cowell, the current interim city manager. It’s interesting to me because Cowell didn’t apply for the permanent job when it came open after City Manager Jarrett Atkinson quit shortly after the City Council — with its three new members — took office in the summer of 2015. He thinks City Hall has achieved a level of stability that makes the manager’s job more attractive.

The finalists comprise a number of individuals — all of whom are white males, by the way — with many years of municipal government experience. Some have been city managers; others have county government exposure. Four of the finalists have extensive experience in Texas local government, which in itself is a positive element to bring to this job.

Who’s the favorite? I haven’t a clue. I won’t go there, given my abysmal track record of predicting such things.

Check out the link below. It contains the resumes of all five finalists.

http://amarillo.com/local-news/2016-12-23/amarillo-city-council-selects-city-manager-finalists

I do, though, want to restate an earlier comment about who should make this selection. I believe the current council needs to move on this; it need not wait for the May 2017 election and hand this task off to the next City Council. The city charter gives the council the authority to make this hiring decision, which is the only one the council makes under our strong-manager form of government.

I get that the city has gone too long as it is without a permanent chief administrator. The former interim city manager, Terry Childers, was supposed to stay on the job until after the next election. Then he exhibited some profoundly bad form by mouthing off with a profane epithet to a constituent during a City Council meeting.

Childers submitted his letter of resignation, cleared out his office and hit the road.

He’s a goner.

Amarillo’s future — with a big downtown redevelopment project already underway, along with initiatives throughout the city┬á— awaits the next city manager, whoever he is.

Merry Christmas, y’all.

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