Council Approves National Search For City Manager Post

OCEAN CITY – The decision to nationally advertise for a city manager took on full support this week after the City Council majority’s choice to fill the position respectfully declined.

Unexpected business surfaced during this week’s Mayor and City Council meeting, as Council President Jim Hall asked for a motion to advertise both nationally and locally for a new city manager.

“I know the staff, city manager’s office, and the mayor’s office has been working on getting together a consensus on a new city manager, and getting together the information we need to shop out that job,” said Jim Hall, assuring the city is looking to fill the position as soon as possible.

Without hesitation the council unanimously voted to approve the motion, which was a change from a few weeks ago when a 4-3 vote was held to not do a national search and instead hire from within.

The candidate was Public Works Director Hal Adkins, who had been asked to consider fulfilling the position. Last week Adkins officially turned the job down.

“I wish to respectfully inform you both my answer is no,” Adkins wrote in an email last week addressed to Mayor Rick Meehan and Jim Hall. “The timing that has presented itself is terrible for both my family and my career planning goals. The truth be told, and expressing my personal feelings in a crystal clear manner, the recent actions of resignation in lieu of termination for Dennis Dare have now caused a negative effect on me also. The details of that comment will remain private and I will find a way to live with it.”

During Monday’s meeting, Councilman Joe Hall clarified that although he voted for a national search he still believes Ocean City contains the next city manager.

“We have the local talent to run this town and I hope that the citizens pull together,” he said. “I hope that local talent doesn’t think that because we are doing a national search that we are not going to look at them very seriously.”

Following the council’s agenda, Citizens For Ocean City spokesperson Joe Groves said, “I had this great speech to recommend in doing a national search for the city manager, but you all threw me a curve ball, which is good … Thank you so much for deciding to do a national search for city manager. This town deserves that and I thank all seven of you for doing that.”

On Wednesday, Groves said he knew the vote was going to be swayed toward advertising the position nationally once Adkins declined.

“Hal didn’t want it so they didn’t have a plan after that, so what are they going to do,” he said. “I think they were backed into a corner to be honest with you.”

Groves has advocated a national search since the beginning.

“Ocean City needs to hire someone that has experience in being a city manager and who has managed a budget this big,” he said. “There may be people in the city that you don’t know about but that is why you do a national search for it.”

Along similar lines, the local Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) is currently collecting signatures for a petition to referendum for the mechanism to recall elected officials.

On Wednesday, Groves said the petition effort “is going very well” and is encouraging citizens to sign the petition if they believe there should be a procedure to recall elected officials.

“They are not trying to do a recall,” Groves explained. “They [FOP] are trying to change the charter so we can do a recall if we ever wanted to.”

If the charter is amended and the required signatures are met to recall an elected official, they would have five days to step down or a special election would be held seeking a yes or no vote from voters.