Residents weigh in on search for city manager

In a rare public showing, about a dozen residents told City Council members before they met in closed session Tuesday to look beyond Glendale as they move to replace outgoing City Manager Jim Starbird, rather than promote from within.

The speakers also called for the hiring process to be transparent as the council decides how to replace Starbird, 62, who announced plans to retire at the end of the year.

“There’s no such thing as partial transparency,” said Leonard Manoukian, a former Planning Commission chairman. “We as residents are either part of the process or simply spectators.”

In the two years since Mayor Laura Friedman came to office, Tuesday afternoon was only the second time she could recall residents speaking to the City Council about a closed-session item.

Just one speaker, North Glendale resident Peter Fuad, suggested the council consider internal candidates because they would already be familiar with the community.

“You should promote from within if you have the right person,” Fuad said.

But most who took the podium urged the council to open the process up to outside candidates.

“The people want fresh blood,” said Mike Mohill, a self-proclaimed city watchdog. “Anyone we promote from the inside will contain baggage.”

The comments follow Councilman Rafi Manoukian’s concerns that closed-door proceedings relating to hiring a city manager last month violated state open-meeting laws by going beyond what was listed on the agenda.

The public is allowed to comment on items scheduled to be discussed during closed session, but they rarely do, said City Clerk Ardy Kassakhian.

Starbird, who was hired in 1998 after stints as city manager in West Covina and Monrovia, plans to retire by the end of the year. Officials have not publicly set a timeline for picking his successor.

Large cities often have headhunting firms search for a new manager, which is how Starbird landed in Glendale. His predecessor, Dave Ramsey, had been promoted from within after working as assistant city manager.

City Atty. Scott Howard said council members can discuss a salary range they would like to offer an employee behind closed doors but cannot set an amount. No decision was reported out of the closed-session meeting Tuesday.

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