There’s a lot of meeting and greeting to do for new City Manager Tom Ambrosino this week as he took his place in the city manager’s office on Monday, but sandwiched between getting a feel for his new job, Ambrosino said he has realized how much he misses municipal government and how much he would like to get done.
Reflecting on his first day Monday evening, Ambrosino said he forgot how hectic it is, but also forgot how much he enjoyed such a pace.
“I realized that I really did miss this kind of job,” he said. “It’s very encouraging and make me very happy to be able to resolve issues and help people. On the other hand, I realized how much work it takes. I guess I forgot about all of the work. There’s some trepidation about the long hours and the weekends at work, but it’s what I wan to do, so I am looking forward to it.”
After being sworn in early Monday morning, Ambrosino spent the rest of the morning meeting department heads and staff members. Key members of the staff gave him general updates and he also spoke with some city councillors.
He said his goals for this week are modest, but crucial.
He said he would like to get the first steps made towards hiring a new Fire Chief and an Inspectional Services (ISD) Director.
“I would like to get two things done this week and if I do that, I will certainly be happy,” he said. “First, I would like to have the director of Inspectional Services job advertised and in the market place so we can get people to start submitting resumes. Second, I would like to have an RFP put out to have an assessment center for choosing the Fire Chief. I’d like that to go out to bid by Friday as well.”
ISD Director Joe Cooney announced last week that he is officially leaving his post at ISD after 23 years, making a lateral move to the School Department to help oversee construction projects. Until a new director is found, he will be working part time in both positions, as the City needs a chief building inspector to keep projects moving forward.
The Fire Chief proposal is a little more involved.
The Request for Proposals (RFP) will involve hiring a company – known as an assessment center – to come in and supervise the process of sifting through resumes and researching Fire Chief candidates. Such a center would also make recommendations as to the best candidates – in much the same way as the Collins Center did in the city manager selection process this past year.
Such a center was used recently by former Chelsea administrator and current Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll in choosing a Police Chief. Ambrosino has been a proponent of such services for many years, proposing to use one many years ago when tasked with choosing a new police chief in Revere.
Ambrosino said he had no preference right now as whether or not to hire someone from inside the department or someone from outside.
“I think my preference is to select the best candidate,” he said.
Meanwhile, some city councillors – burned by last spring’s overtime drama and supplemental expenditures required by the department – are pushing privately for someone outside the department. Many have advocated off the record for someone to come in from the outside and change the culture. Such a thing was tried with the chief prior to former Chief Bob Better – with mixed
Chief Better was out for more than one year with an injury before unceremoniously retiring this past winter.
Finally, Ambrosino said he would be a familiar face at Council meetings and other Board meetings. The Charter requires him to be present for Council meetings and he said he fully intended to attend all meetings. He also said he would be at Zoning Board of Appeals, Planning Board meetings and Licensing Commission meetings if there were major issues on the table.