City Councillors moved quickly and unexpectedly Monday night to hire a search firm that had not even been mentioned until that very night – and with that firm they’ll be bringing back a familiar face to City Hall in Stephen McGoldrick, the former chief of staff during the dark times of receivership government in the 1990s.
The Council voted 9-1 to immediately hire the UMass-Boston Collins Center to assist in the search for a new City Manager. Councillor Calvin Brown was the lone councillor to vote against the measure, having said he wanted to slow the process down just a bit and keep it from going too fast.
Councillor Joe Perlatonda was absent from the vote, but submitted a letter in support of hiring the Collins Center. The Collins Center has helped several municipalities find city managers, including Winthrop in recent years. It is headed up by executive director McGoldrick – who once presided over Chelsea with the likes of Harry Spence and Jim Carlin.
The would likely cost about $20,000 for the service, while a private search firm was estimated to cost $25,000 to $30,000.
Hiring the Collins Center was a move out of left field, as the Council hadn’t talked about them at the previous meeting on Monday. It had been agreed to solicit three bids from reputable companies and then go with the low bidder. That course of action was expected to be approved on Monday, and the decision on a search firm to come on Dec. 8.
However, the Collins Center volunteered its services to the Council, and it was learned that they would not have to go
The Council still could have opted to get three bids, feel that process out, and then go with the Collins Center if they felt it best.
However, one main thing that has been transpiring is the scuttlebutt, rumors and politicking that has re-emerged with the upcoming decision of replacing City Manager Jay Ash – something that has been gone from Chelsea for years. Many potential candidates have been seen talking it up to some councillors and seemingly re-acquainting themselves to the workings of City government.
Many councillors felt it was best to put a stop to all that and get a professional firm on board as soon as possible.
“This group has already done searches before for different places,” said Council President Matt Frank. “They’re the go-to group for the state, regardless of the guy in charge of the organization and the role had had in the City years ago. If you look around the City’s doing pretty good now, and so maybe what he did then could be seen as a good thing. We just really want to get someone behind the wheel helping us steer things before they get out of control. Anybody who says they know who the next city manager is, doesn’t know what they’re talking about. A majority of the Council has already decided not to talk about until we get to page two.”
Councillor Dan Cortell said he would like to get a firm on the ground soon, putting an end to rumors and talk around town about the decision.
“I think it’s important we get a firm in sooner rather than later,” he said. “It’s important to have someone in place from the beginning to make sure we do everything right…I would like to the shortest time possible and that’s my priority.”
Councillor Giovanni Recupero said he supported hiring them because they just advise the Council, and if he doesn’t like their advice, he will not take their advice.
“The search firm is only to guide us,” he said. “We are the ultimate choosers. It’s important to have them in one sense because it gives councillors like me and those who haven’t been through the process a guide. But, I don’t have to take their advice.”
Councillor Brown said he just didn’t understand why everything needed to be done so fast.
“We talk about having everything open and transparent and then we go and do this quick and without talking much about it,” he said. “I wanted to slow it down a bit and find out what our businesses, residents and non-profits thought before we started taking bids and making decisions.”