Is Cassidy Attempting To Hand-Pick The New City Manager?

By Steven Tavares

Government transparency for San Leandro Mayor Stephen Cassidy usually means recording city hearings for broadcast on the web. Increasingly, though, it is not what is occurring at these meetings that is worrying some city officials and employees, it’s what they are not privy to know, primarily, the details of the city’s crucial search for a new city manager.

At issue is the mayor’s push to relegate the canvassing for candidates to replace San Leandro City Manager Stephen Hollister—arguably the city’s most powerful post–to a select few. Instead, Cassidy, Vice Mayor Ursula Reed and Councilwoman Diana Souza will whittle down perspective candidates through a less visible form of a meeting known as an ad hoc committee where members and their discussion are not hindered by public disclosure of their deliberations like typical standing committees and council meetings.

Some worry Cassidy, who has grown a reputation for resisting comity and conciliation when confronted with opposing opinions, has made a power grab in steering a candidate of his own choosing.

“It’s not the process I would have went with,” said San Leandro Councilman Jim Prola, who was tersely shot down by Cassidy during discussion Monday night of the ad hoc committee’s process regarding screening prospective hires. “That’s not the way we’re going to do it,” Cassidy told him. Prola, instead, said he supported hiring a professional recruiting firm to perform the search.

Disclosure of the ad hoc committee’s decision to identify potential “red flags” among candidates through exhaustive web searches also garnered a few giggles among audience members.

While Cassidy has appeared to go out of his way to portend to include public comment in the search for a new city manager, all are attached to very little power in choosing Hollister’s replacement. An online questionnaire posted on the city’s web site allows the public to enter its preferences for certain traits in the next city manager, but Cassidy admitted Monday there is no formula to how much those questionnaires will count towards the final decision. The same goes for any potential input from city employees and their union leaders.

Cassidy said the ad hoc committee had discussed at length on how to give city department heads a chance to meet with the selected candidate, but they too would have little say in choosing the candidate. “We would make it clear to the candidate that this is not a prerequisite for this person,” said Cassidy. “It’s not based on their input. This is not their future boss they are getting approval from.”

The new mayor is not the most popular man at City Hall since he has pushed vigorously for employees to contribute more to the health care and pensions along with urging greater efficiency despite a 40 percent decrease in staff over the past few years. In addition, there is significant distrust among the city employee union leaders, including the Police Officers Association, towards Cassidy.

Councilwoman Joyce Starosciak, who has also appeared hesitant of the mayor’s intentions in hand-picking a new city manager, asked the committee to include union leaders in the discussion. Cassidy agreed, but those meetings would likely contain the same caveat as potential interviews by department leaders.

On two occasions Monday, Cassidy also stressed the need for council members to keep the identities of those applying for the job confidential. Having their names disclosed could jeopardize their careers, Cassidy said, or show a lack of loyalty to the cities currently employing them. “Sure, personnel issues are always confidential,” said one city employee, who asked not to be identified, “But, in this case, we also won’t know who else they could have picked.”

Categories: city manager, Jim Prola, Joyce Starosciak, Stephen Hollister, transparency, unions

14 replies

  1. On two occasions Monday, Cassidy also stressed the need for council members to keep the identities of those applying for the job confidential. Having their names disclosed could jeopardize their careers, Cassidy said, or show a lack of loyalty to the cities currently employing them. “Sure, personnel issues are always confidential,” said one city employee, who asked not to be identified, “But, in this case, we also won’t know who else they could have picked.”

    This is why you hire an outside search consultant, The consultant can do the initial screening, in a professional manner, before picking the top candidates for the city to interview.
    Cassidy's method of the ad hoc committee may actually keep the most qualified from applying or interviewing. But since Cassidy seems intent on destroying the city hall work force and moral maybe that is the grand scheme, hiree an incompetent stooge as city manager.


  2. You couldn't get more incompetent than Hollister and the moron before him; so I bet there's a method to Cassidy's madness. Who gives a rat's ass if the Union leaders get a say – they want someone who will support more employee perks, benefits and job rules that reduce employee's work contribution to next to nothing. Cassidy has the fiscal health of the city in mind.


  3. Cassidy has his own agenda in mind. There is no “transparency” has he claims to have wanted. He and his minions want nothing more than to have a underpaid workforce to push around. If it were up to them hey would go the route of Wisconsin. Oh and by the way why is he selling his home and buying in Bay-O-Vista? Folks on the flat lands to common for him? All he wants is a “yes” man or woman to do his dirty work. He can't even stay at a finance meeting for more than an hour.


  4. Are you stalking Cassidy? How do you know he's moving to Bay-0-Vista? Big deal, it's just a hop skip and a jump from where he lives now. Petty, petty, petty.


  5. Cassidy does have an agenda – it's to restore San Leandro to fiscal health; hold police accountable for spiraling crime; start working with the school district to improve the schools. A lot of good ole boys on the take, race-baiters, poverty pimps, city workers and dumb old Portugee old-timers threatened by younger, smarter, college-educated folks don't like it. Well, get used to it. With Cassidy's leadership, San Leandro might not circle the toilet bowl after all…


  6. Prola is such a jackass. The City is strapped for money and this lazy government worker wants to blow a couple dozen thousand dollars on hiring a “firm” to screen candidates. Sorry Prola, you guys aren't going to get off easy when the new manager comes in and screws up. You're not going to look dazed eyed into the audience, chuckle like fool and say; “oh well, we took the word of the hiring firm. Don't blame us”.


  7. Prola is an advocate of higher taxes and wasting taxpayor money. He always has been.


  8. I will post a comment. Transparency in selecting a City Manager is critical to sustaining continuity in governing city. At the moment Mr. Cassidy is not following the Charter provision on working with city staff. He is causing concern among the employees. Prola is correct in that a consultand must be retained to assist in hiring city manager. No one from inside applied-that should tell all of you something. One comment on fiscal health. If anyone followed what I said in December they would know the city was heading in the right direction. It will have a balaned budget and this was decided in December 2010 and not April 2011. All anonymous comments come from the know nothing group in SL. They have been around a long time; this is why they can back “teabagger” cassidy. Tony Santos


  9. Cassidy wants to hand pick a stooge. He will not let the public know the names of the applicants claiming it would put their careers at risk. Well then I guess they won't be checking with the current employer on the quality of their work since that would putting their careers at risk right? I guess just take their word for it that they are qualified right?


  10. If anyone was following what was happening in City Hall they wouldn't have voted to increase taxes in the past 12 years. Only a moron, who someone who votes for whomever Jack Maltester tells them to vote would think that this City's budget was unbalanced because of a lack of money. This City's budget is soley for the enjoyment of those who work for the City and not for those who live here and pay the taxes. The real “know nothing, Jack Maltester teabaggers” are the Tony Santos, Shelia Young, Derek Rinetti, Tom Guarino, Gordon Galvan, Surlene Grant, Pete DiGregorio, Joe Collier, Barbara Tierney, Madge Basuino, Mario Polvorosa, Dale Reed, Mike Betts, Tom Dlugosh (pronounced Duh-Gosh), Orval Badger


  11. Tony Santos, I don't think I need to tell you to shut the eff up; the voters of San Leandro already did that last election. Please go out of state as much as possible to fight the good fight against rank choice voting; in fact why don't you move to Portugal and proactively prevent it there? Your personal anecdote is a good one – telling people that even someone “smart” like you can get fooled and get personally hurt by it. You've already convinced me and I don't even like you…

    But leave running San Leandro to a better, smarter, more educated man. I'm sorry that our great city is not circling the toilet as you and Prola have worked so hard for; it might actually become a great place under Cassidy's leadership.


  12. Time will tell. But why is he oscared to make public the names of the City Manager candidates? Why does his inner circle/transition team what to have everyones emails to Tavares? Can't handle people questioning things? Heaven forbid not everyone agrees with him.
    And will someone please limit Tim Holmes coffee intake his eyes are about to pop out.


  13. Anonymous you have the same amount of balls as Cassidy, zero. Why don't you post your name when you attack someone who worked for 18 years in public office.
    Better educated? Hastings is not exactly the creme de la creme of law schools. And he isn't even a practicing attorney, I understand he does pr, he is so smart they don't let him practice.
    You are probably Cassidy and too afraid to post your own name


  14. The fact that the City only got thirty applicants means San Leandro choose the wrong way in hiring a new City Manager. Most Cities that do it professionally get three, four, five or more times the number of applicants. Some times, on important matters, in order to get the best and the brightest, you don't want to take the cheapest route!


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