Whether or not University Place’s council reneged on its promise to conduct a national search for a new city manager depends upon your point of view. Some citizens are angry that U.P.’s council voted to offer the job to Steve Sugg, the interim manager and longtime employee with the city. Council members say that they never promised to conduct the search.
Both of these viewpoints are, quite literally, beside the point.
National searches for leadership can have less than pleasant outcomes. As a police officer in Tacoma, I was one of an overwhelming majority of union members to vote “No Confidence” in Phillip Arreola, the former Milwaukee police chief whose brief tenure was the result of a national search. His replacement, also the subject of a national search, was Dave Brame. Enough said about Brame, except that his interim replacement, Don Ramsdell, has been doing an excellent job for about a decade.
This point is not to suggest that casting a wide net is a poor idea, but consider the economic climate. Steve Sugg has certainly proven to his own council that he is capable of handling city management during an economic crisis. Perhaps the naysayers should remember that the city is saving $30,000 while possibly avoiding an underperforming unknown.
As the saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”