Antioch Council won’t say what direction they gave to HR Director for recruiting new city manager

Nothing on next Tuesday’s meeting agenda about the matter; Barbanica, Ogorchock want open process

By Allen D. Payton

During the closed session before their regular meeting Tuesday, July 25, 2023, the Antioch City Council voted to give direction to the City’s Human Resources Director Ana Cortez regarding recruiting a new, permanent city manager. But no other details were provided. They also discussed the city attorney’s performance evaluation, but no reportable action was taken.

Regarding recruiting the city manager, City Attorney Thomas L. Smith reported that the council gave direction to the human resources director, but not what it was or how many council members voted to do so.

Several questions were emailed Wednesday afternoon, July 26 to Smith, Mayor Lamar Thorpe and the other four councilmembers. They were asked, “What was the direction given to Human Resources Director Ana Cortez regarding the recruitment of a new city manager during last night’s closed session as reported out by Thomas? If it wasn’t to offer her, (acting city manger) Kwame (Reed) or another current city employee the position or enter negotiations with a specific individual, and it’s merely about the process, including possibly issuing an RFP for hiring a firm for a nationwide search, why was that not announced? Why aren’t you being more transparent and allowing the public to know what’s going on with the recruitment and hiring of the next, permanent city manager? How is that rebuilding trust with your constituents after your last hire of the friend of certain council members?”

They were also asked to please explain the process they’re planning to follow.

At the end of the Tuesday July 25th meeting during Council Communications (see 4:33:35 mark of video), District 2 Councilman Mike Barbanica stated, “The hiring of city manager, moving forward, I’ve had requests from the public, is that going to be open session or closed session. What I can tell you is there’s times when that will be in closed session, there’s times that can be done in open session. Hopefully, we can bring those to you in open session.”

“When things can be done in a public setting, I want them done in public,” he added later.

District 3 Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock offered the only other response saying, “I can’t share what happened in closed session. But if it’s council’s decision to hire an outside search firm and they offer a list of say, five candidates, we should use a scoring system like we’ve done in the past, with allowing staff to have an interview process. They are the ones who will be working under direction of the new city manager. So, their input is invaluable.”

Asked about public input she said, “I believe in having an open, transparent process with public input.”

“This is a top priority because we have several directors and the chief that the new city manager should be hiring,” Ogorchock added.

As of today, Friday, August 4, no one else responded to the questions. Next Tuesday’s council meeting agenda was released, today but there is nothing included about recruiting a new city manager.

Antioch currently has an acting city manager, acting assistant city manager, acting community development director, acting public works director and no assistant city attorney. As of August 12, the appointment of an acting police chief following the retirement of current Chief Steve Ford on the 11th. So, as the City’s slogan reads, Opportunity Lives Here, especially for senior city staff positions.

8/5/23 UPDATE: Mayor Lamar Thorpe said he wants to wait and hold a press conference on the city manager recruiting process until after Acting City Manager chooses a new acting police chief, this Friday.

the attachments to this post:


No Comments so far.

Leave a Reply