WANTED: More City Manager Candidates

As temperatures soared to record levels, things also heated up for the City Council.  In fact it appears that a political high-pressure system has stalled over City Hall. 
After several months of dealing with torturous issues like the next step for the Desert Discovery Center, debating the Transportation Master Plan and dissecting the Police Department's performance study - the Council's discord peaked during the selection process of a permanent city manager.
Their long-awaited decision about a city manager landed with a thud.
Following three stressful hours of deliberation in executive session, the Council was unable to reach a consensus on any one of the three candidates.  City Hall watchers know how critical it is for Councilmembers to reach unanimity when hiring a charter officer.  Because compromise wasn't in the cards, the Council couldn't reach the all-important 7-0 vote for a single candidate.  However, the Council agreed to disagree - and then instructed James Mercer of The Mercer Group, which had been heading up the search throughout the spring, to cast a wider net for new candidates and also initiate a more aggressive advertising campaign.  
The Council will be presented with the new pool of candidates in the fall.
That means Brian Biesemeyer could be acting City Manager for up to six more months.  Biesemeyer, who has already been filling in for more than a year, was recently rewarded with two weeks of extra vacation when he resumes his duties as Executive Director of Water Resources.  Someday.
In the meantime ... two city departments (and maybe more) are spiraling out of control - which actually started about six months ago.  As one City Hall dweller recently put it:  "While the cat's away, the mice will play."  In other words, without a permanent city manager to keep department heads and their employees accountable, some have gone rogue.  And if this trend continues for another six months, a couple of departments could become feral. 
The next city manager will find him or her self in the unenviable position of repairing the damage done over what could end up being an entire year of some bureaucrats' bad behavior.
There was a time when Brian Biesemeyer was being blamed for much of the upheaval.  But it's time for the blame game to stop.  If the city bureaucracy were a sport, it would be said that Biesemeyer has not only been playing out of position, but he has been doing it for much too long.  When he was appointed to replace Fritz Behring, no one expected him to carry the ball for a year and a half - including Biesemeyer.
When all is said and done, the buck now stops with the City Council.
Some Councilmembers weren't convinced the finalists for city manager were the best the city could find ... or, in other words, not up to "Scottsdale's standards."  Other members weren't keen on the process that was used to winnow down to the final three candidates - especially when all the charter officers,  except candidate Jeff Nichols, became part of the screening process.
Before Councilmembers even began the two-day interview process with the candidates, Biesemeyer was asked if he would consider serving six more months, just in case the Council failed to reach a consensus.  He accepted.  So Plan B was already in place if things didn't go to the Council's satisfaction during the interviews.
Is it possible that the City Council created a self-fulfilling prophecy?
FYI: Our overworked and underpaid City Council meets next week on Tuesday and Wednesday.  Following next week's meetings, they will take their summer recess and return to action on Tuesday, August 30th.