February 8, 2016

More than 60 applications received for vacant administrator job

Mark Taylor
The search for Gardner’s next city administrator is moving forward.
Mayor Dave Drovetta said he, the city’s human resource manager and a contracted recruiter are about to begin sifting through a stack of resumes and submitting a list of potential candidates to the city council.
Interviews are expected to get underway within the next few weeks and a new hire could be named by late summer.
“We’re looking forward to moving ahead on this,” Drovetta said. “We would like to get that role filled as quickly as possible.”
The council is looking to replace Stewart Fairburn who resigned earlier this year after 10 years of service to take a job in Oklahoma.
Assistant City Administrator Melissa Mundt has been serving as interim administrator.
Drovetta said Springstead Incorporated, the company hired by the city to recruit administrator candidates, has received 60 applications for the city’s top appointed position.
The job has a maximum salary of $110,000 plus benefits.
Drovetta said he, Springstead, and Human Resources Manager Mary Bush are meeting this week to review the applications and begin narrowing down the list of candidates.
“Then we will move into the process of identifying candidates for phone interviews and then narrow it down after that,” he said. “I would say within a few weeks we should be doing face-to-face interviews.”
The entire council will be involved in the interview process.
“I really do want all of the council members involved in this discussion,” Drovetta said.
Councilman Larry Fotovich said he was concerned about an e-mail he received from Drovetta asking individual council members whether they would support a $10,000 increase to the maximum salary for a particular candidate.
According to the e-mail, which Fotovich provided, a candidate who might be “the right fit” may be interested in the job but is currently compensated at a higher rate.
“It would appear that the mayor has more information than he wants to share,” Fotovich said. “For this reason I’ll be asking for the entire stack of resumes that were submitted to the recruiter. I knew this recruiter worked for Dave, not the citizens of Gardner.”
Councilman Chris Morrow said June 25 he had not been updated on the progress of the administrator search, nor the number of applications received.
But he said he hopes a new administrator will be named by the first week of September.
Morrow said he believes the successful candidate should have “not only the right experience, but a track record of proven results.”
“They should be steady, thoughtful, and principled, with solid management experience,” he said.  “They should have demonstrated excellence in budget management and innovative planning across a wide array of city departments.”
Morrow said he also wants an administrator who understands how to “proactively” attract and maintain sustainable residential, commercial and industrial development.
“Education is important,” he added, “but I don’t think we need to look exclusively at candidates with public administration degrees.”
Councilwoman Kristina Harrison said her ideal candidate would “have a balance of leadership experience in government and business.”
“I would like to someone who can bring a business world perspective to this position and look at running the city more like a corporation that is responsible for providing shareholders (residents) a return on their investments,” she said.
Harrison added that the new administrator should not be a micro-manager.
“I think that the employees that work for our city are experienced and know how to run their day-to-day operations,” she said. “…I want someone who can effectively manage at the macro level but can read key performance indicators and make a determination of when she or he should get involved in the daily operations.”
Drovetta said he believes the city’s next administrator should also be well-rounded.
“We are looking for an individual who is willing to be able to work with all the various groups within the community – residents, school district, business community, potential businesses and someone who can work well with council and be able to manage staff.  We are not looking for someone who is going to micro-manage, but someone who can direct staff in a way that moves us forward.”
The recruiting effort has been centered on the Midwest.
“We didn’t exclude anyone from (applying),” Drovetta said. “But we felt that based on our values and our experiences, we probably wanted someone from the Midwest region.”
Attempts to reach council members Brian Broxterman and Dennis Pugh for comment were unsuccessful at press time.


  1. With Drovetta doing the up-front picking, I know what kind of candidates will get furher consideration………more of the same ole, same ole that eats the citizens’ lunches and rewards and enables the takers………….more sad and costly times for the taxpayers……….Springsted is Drovetta’s good ole go to consultant that always comes thru for Drovetta’s wishes but hardly protects the citizens’ interests and to think you pay dearly for those services that will put a knife in your back…….

  2. Drovetta says “based on our values”…….what values are those Dictator Drovetta…..how to take care of the takers and stick it to the citizens like you have been doing for the past 15 years or more with your cronyism government and where you haven’t put up for bid our health insurance program for 22 years and not put other contracts up for bid when they should be or totally disregard bids taken and will take the highest bid submitted by one your cronies??????? I want to hear more about those “values” of yours, Drovetta………

  3. We are in the process of getting a new city administrator which is very important. The following article tells you how important it is to know what your city and the thieves are up to. I now know there are at least two benefit districts our city of Gardner has given where the owners of the property have either not paid their taxes to the citizens and/or are possibly committing fraud by stating their property is used for farm (when there is no visual evidence whatsoever for the past 8 years of any farm operations) use resulting in only pennies of tax support to the community. Do you want your city to continue to operate in that manner – are these entities worthy of the citizens being co-signers on loans for these takers??? You might want to think about that issue.


    Troubled Montebello comes under federal scrutiny
    The FBI and U.S. attorney are looking into potential misuse of $1.3 million in federal funds the city paid to a developer in 2008 to build affordable apartments on Whittier Boulevard. The project was never built.

    The FBI is leading an investigation into how Montebello has used federal funds over the last few years. (Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times)

    By Jessica Garrison, Abby Sewell and Richard Winton, Los Angeles Times

    July 1, 2011

    Federal prosecutors and the FBI have launched an investigation into potential misuse of funds and fraud involving federal housing money in the troubled city of Montebello, adding to the growing list of agencies looking into the city’s stewardship of public dollars.

    Sources told The Times that the FBI is leading an investigation into how the city used federal funds over the last few years. The probe comes after the federal Housing and Urban Development agency in April took the highly unusual step of suspending all funding to the city.

    Mapping L.A.: Montebello demographics, schools
    Montebello may face insolvency if it doesn’t close budget deficit
    Montebello hires interim administrator to help solve financial problems
    HUD officials suggested that Montebello misspent some of the money and demanded that $4 million be repaid.

    Acting City Administrator Larry Kosmont confirmed that the city received a subpoena from the U.S. attorney’s office for records pertaining to HUD money. City Councilwoman Christina Cortez said she talked with FBI investigators, who showed up unannounced to a meeting she called with HUD officials. The FBI agents asked her questions about the city’s financial decisions, she said.

    The federal inquiry comes as the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office looks into mysterious “off the books” city bank accounts discovered earlier this year. State Controller John Chiang has also launched a wide-ranging audit of the city and its redevelopment agency.

    Montebello, a bedroom community about 10 miles east of downtown L.A., faces a major financial crisis, with officials saying they face possible insolvency later this year. Kosmont is part of a new team of city administrators and council members who are grappling with how to clean up the city’s finances.

    A central issue in the federal probe is what happened with $1.3 million in HUD funds that the city paid to a developer in 2008 to build affordable apartments on Whittier Boulevard.

    The project was never built, but city officials recorded it as completed in a HUD database.

    On Thursday, the city filed a lawsuit against the developer of that project, Danny Ku, alleging that he defrauded the city by artificially inflating the cost he allegedly paid for the land and getting a kickback through a real estate company he controlled.

    Ku could not be reached for comment Thursday.

    Federal officials have been troubled by the housing deal for some time. In an audit released last July, HUD’s office of inspector general declared that the city had disbursed the $1.3 million to Ku in June 2008 without having any valid written agreement.

    In 2009, the city gave HUD a copy of an agreement with Ku that had signatures and dates that appeared to have been “inappropriately cut and pasted” from another document, according to the inspector general’s report.

    “Upon further inquiry,” the report noted, “the City confirmed there actually was no approved” agreement.

    It is not legal for the city to disburse those funds without council approval and a valid agreement. Kosmont said he did not know who in the city authorized issuing the check.

    Eight months after disbursing the money to Ku, according to the audit, the city finally signed a loan agreement with him, but still without council approval. The City Council never formally authorized then-city Administrator Richard Torres to sign off on the loan, according to the city’s lawsuit.

    Torres said he was unaware of the lawsuit and had not been contacted by federal authorities. “I am not sure I’d recognize Mr. Ku if I saw him,” Torres said. Asked whether he signed the contract with Ku’s company without council approval, Torres said, “I don’t know anything about [that]. As a city administrator I signed a lot of documents…the deal was negotiated by the redevelopment staff and the City Council had contact with Ku.”

    Kosmont said he hoped the city would soon be able to clean up its issues with HUD and resume receiving federal housing funds.

    “There is no doubt that Montebello’s administrative processes, when it comes to property, have to be managed more precisely,” he said. “Montebello needs to maintain and manage programs cleanly and efficiently, and from this point on, that’s what we are going to do.”

  4. More and more I hear the politicians and others saying we don’t want our city government or personnel to be “micro-managed” – I have heard it from Mike Press who was interim city administrator for the city of Edgerton and I have heard it from others here in Gardner. To me, they are saying: “We don’t want to have anyone looking over our shoulders – we want to wheel and deal as we please with no oversight”. That is what I truly hear when someone gives me this gooseliver of not wanting people being micro-managed. It is not micro-managing when you let these yahoos know someone is concerned and cares enough to be fully informed and educated as to how their government is run but there are those who push for this garbage so they can do as they please and the deals are made before you can even consider whether the deals are beneficial for the people – I don’t care for “done deals” – they always hurt the people in the long term – that is my experience. Not good for the people and I hope the people are smart enough not to fall for this garbage.

  5. Here is the e-mail I sent to the Gardner City Council today:


    We evidently have 60 applicants for the city administrator position. I want all city council members involved in choosing the next administrator and here is how I want you to do it.

    I want every Council member to be given all of the 60 applications. Then I want each Council member to score each candidate based on those applications on different areas such as education, experience, their thoughts on how to prepare a budget when revenues are down, community development and whether they are on board with financing the thieves, etc., etc. and complete a scoresheet on each candidate. Then all of these scoresheets need to be put together and see how the overall scores come out.

    Last but not least, however, is that looking at someone on paper is nothing like actually knowing that person for a period of time and know what their track record is by their words, actions, inaction, their moral values and their voting records. That is when it gets tricky – you better really be searching for the truth on these individuals’ actual performance. You have the responsibility of making an imporant decision for all of the citizens of Gardner – hope you will put the slimy politics and the special interests in the back seat and actually work for the citizens’ best interests.

    Judith Rogers
    Gardner, Ks.

  6. Get A Clue - Judith says:

    “…know what their track record is by their words, actions, inaction, their moral values and their voting records”

    Voting Record – really? Generally, only elected officials vote on matters. I don’t believe it is proper or legal to ask someone in a job interview on whom they voted for or how they voted in past elections.

  7. You read into my words something that I did not intend……..when I speak of how they vote, I am speaking of how a bureaucrat votes in their job, what they recommend, what their actions or inaction indicate their voting decision is……yes, I know burearcrats do not have an actual “vote” but I know they make recommendations to Council members every single time there is a Council meeting just like they do here in Gardner and they are responsible for the day to day operation of a city…..many different ways to vote but most important is how your “vote”, recommendations, actions, inactions affect the citizens as a city administrator. It all comes down to WHAT YOU STAND FOR but too many people don’t take the time or make the effort to determine what these bureaucrats stand for resulting in lousy government.

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