New Oak Park village manager may be hired by September

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By Marty Stempniak

Staff Reporter

Elected officials met for the first time last week, looking to fill the shoes of the recently departed Oak Park village manager.

The village board is attempting to set an aggressive timeline to replace Tom Barwin, who left his post after five years on Feb. 29. If all goes smoothly, they want to hire a search firm by early May, start conducting interviews in mid-July and possibly extend a job offer to a candidate in August.

They'd like to get a replacement up and running within six months or so, to be able to help contribute to village hall's upcoming 2013 budget deliberations. Trustee Ray Johnson said he hopes the search firm can help lead the process, so board members don't get bogged down by the minutiae of the search, as they did back in 2006 when Barwin was hired.

"We were deep in the weeds on that stuff last time," he said. "It was quite an intense process."

Preliminarily, Oak Park wants to have a request for qualifications to send out to search firms in the first week or so of April. They'll be looking to pick a firm in early May, and also hope to hold a public meeting to gather input on a new manager on March 19.

Depending on how search firms respond, they hope to have a job description ready to send out by June 1, a small handful of candidates to interview in the second half of July, and a finalist to extend an offer to sometime in August, with a possible start date in early September.

Trustees cautioned that all dates are up in the air, depending on how quickly search firms can work in the next few months.

Reader Comments

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It's a Tough Job.... from OP  

Posted: March 13th, 2012 6:48 AM

C'mon people, auditioning trained lapdogs and bootlicking toadies takes time! Pope & Johnson will accept only the best, most qualified syncophants and paid flatterers from across the country!! (has anyone asked about the no-bid contract that I'll guess was awarded to the search firm?)

Low Ball Lilly  

Posted: March 13th, 2012 12:13 AM

Im FREE remember?

Money Money Money Money  

Posted: March 12th, 2012 10:35 PM

How much is this going to cost? What is the refund policy?

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: March 11th, 2012 8:41 PM

I hope Trustee Johnson has the time and interest in continuing to engage in this discussion. It certainly would be helpful and informative if he provided greater details regarding how the board decides when it is appropriate to waive the competitive bidding process. Trustee Johnson said "there is no standard practice" but it seems that the majority of contracts awarded to consultants,experts,outside legal counsel,etc., regularly receive an exemption. What are the benefits of no-bid contracts?

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: March 11th, 2012 12:56 PM

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park, you know your stuff, and know what Johnson's stuff is made up from.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: March 11th, 2012 12:48 PM

The budget process starts this Monday with the Finance Committee meeting. The Village Manager's preliminary budget is scheduled for review by the Finance Committee in August, and released to the village board for review on Oct. 1. Contrary to Trustee Johnson's statement, the new village manager will hired AFTER the preliminary village manager's budget has been completed. It would appear the 2013 budget is in the hands of the Finance Committee.

Low Ball Lilly  

Posted: March 10th, 2012 11:10 PM

I can do it for nothing. Try me.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: March 10th, 2012 11:06 AM

Thanks to Trustee Johnson for his input. I do not have access to the numbers or percentages but have observed that contracts for consultants and personal services are not generally subject to an open bidding process. Perhaps the trustee has data to dispute that notion and would be willing to share via this forum. I did notice President Pope explained that the Village's bid process was waived for the purchase of new vehicles since it was part of cooperative involving other governmental agencies. That makes sense. However, it did appear that the contract awarded for services relating to a grant application was not subject to any open and competitive process. A number of contracts are approved during the consent agenda and it is not often clear if the decisions were subject to a review of bids. I certainly understand that there are unique and special circumstances when a waiver may be necessary but believe it is a benefit to taxpayers and a practice of good government to make certain that all contracts are awarded after an open and competitive bidding process has been conducted. That certainly seems to be the board's policy as it relates to the purchases of materials and supplies and should be a standard practice for contracts involving personal servies including consultants, expert studies and outside legal counsel.

Ray Johnson from Oak Park  

Posted: March 10th, 2012 9:41 AM

@ Jim: The article notes a request for qualifications will be issued, which by definition is a call for bids and presentations, interviews by the board, and a search firm selection. As is normal practice, the public is invited to participate/witness/forward questions. There is no 'standard practice' of no-bid processes.

Roger French from Oak park  

Posted: March 10th, 2012 8:54 AM

I agree with Jim. Board, slow down and do it right.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: March 9th, 2012 9:37 PM

The search firm contract should be awarded via an open bid process. The report that the trustees intend to hire a firm within the next couple of weeks would seem to indicate that this may well be yet another instance when the board approves a no bid deal for consulting and personal services contracts. A highly questionable practice that needs to be curtailed except in an emergency situation. Taxpayers will be footing a $100,000 tab to pay for this search to find a new manager and deserve to know that the selected firm is providing quality services at a competitive price.

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