Savannah’s Arduous Search for Michael Brown’s Replacement

by ARLnow.com January 19, 2011 at 9:47 am 2,196 12 Comments

There’s unease in the easy-going city of Savannah. The city’s search for a new city manager — made necessary after Arlington hired away now-former county manager Michael Brown — is not going as hoped.

After a ten-month nationwide search, candidates for the job include the current interim city manager and three former or soon-to-be former city managers who all left amid allegations of improper conduct

“I don’t believe this search was conducted in the best, most transparent way,” Savannah Alderman Tony Thomas told TV station WSAV.

By contrast, it took a seven-month, $30,000 nationwide search for Arlington hire Brown, who was essentially fired four and a half months after he took office. Immediately after Brown was given the boot, former interim county manager Barbara Donnellan took over as the permanent county manager. Donnellan has remained an uncontroversial hire ever since.

If there’s now any objectively positive thought to take away from the whole lamentable Brown affair, it seems to be… at least we’re not Savannah.

  • G

    They should just hire him back.

  • F

    Too bad we don’t have Savannah’s situation. Having several of the CB members leave? Too awesome

  • Ray

    I’m still yet to hear an explanation for what exactly Mr. Brown did to get fired. To get the boot that soon, it must have been pretty bad.

    • Thes

      I disagree. In fact many employers set up an explicit policy of having a “probationary period” for the first few months or even year of an employee’s tenure during which they can be fired just because “it’s not working out.” Obviously there wasn’t anything explicit to this effect in Brown’s contract (his whole contract term was, in effect, a probationary period), but the same principle applies. It could have been a huge number of small things rather than one gigantic titillating scandal.

  • Arlingtonian2

    I think he was fired within hours of a public announcement of a $35M deficit for 2011. Or maybe he told them they were wrong to opt out of “Secure Communities?”

  • TuesdaysChild

    This is very rare to fire a such a senior person in short order after a so called national search. This is not some new low level employee that has a probationary period. This is high profile, high paid job.

    So, in my view the Board owes citizens a better explanation of why they failed at their national search for a new city manager. I understand that it has to be done in a manner that does not break any obligations on confidentiality that the CB may have to Mr. Brown. But for example, they could say whether there were disagreements with political policies or disagreement with how implementation/leadership was being carried out. Something.

    • mehoo

      This is a serious flaw in the county manager system. They want to keep it quiet, maybe to cover their mistakes, maybe to protect an employer-employee relationship, but either way, it’s not transparent government.

  • DT

    Congrats to the County Board. You screwed one man and two cities with your actions. The board probably got wind of Brown supporting something right of center and decided to can him for it.

    • AllenB

      If Brown was such a prize, don’t you think Savannah would be hiring him back?

  • mehoo

    Not if he’s already been replaced.

    • AllenB

      But he hasn’t been replaced yet. And he’s certainly available. So my point is, maybe the board could have been more transparent, but if Arlington really did “screw over” a good guy, Savannah would be hiring him back. But they’re not.

      • mehoo

        Oh, yeah, the story is about how Savannah hasn’t replaced him. Duh. My bad.


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