Politics: To Find Its Next Manager, City Must Find Better Headhunter

Renee Narloch, Eastern Region Vice President for Bob Murray & Associates

You’re Paying Close to $25,000 for Their Sloppy Work

For the critical assignment of recruiting its next city manager, the City of Miami Beach hired a headhunter firm whose work output for this assignment has proven astonishingly sloppy and less than thorough.

Bob Murray & Associates, a firm headquartered in Roseville, Calif., and with an East Coast regional office in Tallahassee, was handed the weighty assignment over the summer.

City commissioners bypassed six other firms, from Boston to Chicago to Dallas, including two in our own backyard (Heidrick & Struggles, with an office on Washington Ave. in South Pointe, and Stone Legal, with a downtown Miami set-up).

In early June, the Silly Hall Seven set aside competitive bidding (which doesn’t look like such a good decision in retrospect) and authorized up to $25,000 be allocated to BMA for the manager search. Within a month, a contract between BMA and the city was drafted and signed, to pay BMA $16,500, with an allowance of an additional $7,500 for expenses associated with the job.

Here’s why and how the money BMA is getting from the city for this all-important project may not be equal to the quality of work output we should expect from a firm that prides itself on its website as providing “quality executive recruitment services.”

In its initial compilation of resumes presented to the Commission in October, BMA included a five-page table listing all 60 applicants but only their current or most recent positions, as culled from those resumes.

Trouble is, this synopsis approach excluded the previous positions – and relevant experience – of a number of applicants, some of whom served in managerial or administrative roles for multiple municipalities during their careers, experience one would reasonably expect might shoot them straight to the top of any headhunter’s list of candidate finalists for a city managership.

In excluding any mention of these candidates’ extensive prior experience, but rather boiling their career histories down to merely one position, BMA possibly marginalized those applicants’ strengths and inadvertently hurt their chances to land a spot on the finalist list that the firm turned in to commissioners in October.

And commissioners who depended upon this five-page summary rather than took the time to patiently comb through each of the 60 resumes (a compilation that totaled nearly 350 pages) as I, Frank Del Vecchio, and who knows how few others did – well, those commissioners missed these additional career history highlights.

Two applicants’ names are misspelled in the summary. Iesha Henry’s is spelled “Isha” and Manuel Gonzalez’s is eschewed in favor of the nickname “Manny,” though his resume and cover letter use the formal “Manuel.” But those are trivial errors. More glaring are these:

Steven Alexander’s career is summed up as president of a communications firm. What BMA leaves out is Alexander’s past town managerial roles for Cutler Bay and El Portal.

Kelvin Baker’s role as city manager for North Miami Beach gets mentioned. What gets overlooked, however, is his similar role for Opa-Locka.

Robert Bartolotta, the summary states, was Sarasota’s city manager. What it neglects to add is that he served in the same capacity for Jupiter, Fla.

Roxane Benoit is listed as an assistant math teacher with McNeese, never specifying that it’s McNeese State University in Louisiana.

Frederick Carr was an administrator for the “Township of Bloomfield.” Where is Bloomfield? It’s in New Jersey, but you wouldn’t get that from reading the summary.

Tiffany Cheuvront is listed as an executive for “WCAR,” which one could easily mistake as being a TV or radio station. BMA’s summary fails to specify that it stands for “Williamson County (Tenn.) Association of Realtors.”

William Cooper is listed as having served as the city manager for the “City of Hamtramck.” You’d have to be well up on your Michigan geography to know where Hamtramck is, for the summary won’t tell you.

Daniel Faulkner’s most recent position is listed as president for Education on Wheels, Inc. What’s left out is that he was also the downtown development chair for Watervliet, Mich., a position which should have merited greater priority from BMA in the city manager sweepstakes.

Danny George is listed as the CEO of something called the “Oklahoma Group Inc.” What is left out entirely is his past experience as a state representative in the Oklahoma legislature and as city manager or assistant manager for two municipalities in that state.

Stephanie Grindell is listed as a project engineer for Tamayo Engineering. Not only does the summary neglect to mention where this is located (Miami), but it also excludes completely any mention that she is a former public works director for the City of Miami.

Thomas Henshaw’s position as senior manager for “Jersey Professional Management” garners mention. What fails to be mentioned in the summary is that he is a former administrator for Egg Harbor City, N.J.

A South Floridian reading Peter Luria’s name would immediately recognize the Luria family name. However, a headhunter based out of Tallahassee would likely miss the significance of this name to our region. And that is exactly what BMA did. Luria is listed as the CEO for Savannah Jewelry Company which is headquartered not in Savannah, Ga., but right here in Miami Beach. But you wouldn’t get that from the summary for it fails to mention SJC’s local connection. Furthermore, Luria is also the president and COO of Luria & Son, HQ’ed in Miami. The summary leaves that out, too.

Emanuel Mayer is well-known around City Hall; after all, he was once a special assistant to then-Beach City Manager Jorge Gonzalez with oversight of capital improvements and public works. The summary neglects to mention this integral part of Mayer’s career.

Michael McNees’s role as the CEO of USA Track and Field in Indianapolis rates a mention. This, while his role closer to home – as a one-time city manager for Sarasota – is ignored. Notwithstanding, he made it onto BMA’s Final Four list.

Ricardo Mendez-Saldivia is listed as a one-time administrator for the City of Harrisburg. That it’s in Pennsylvania is not even mentioned. You have to guess that it is. More glaringly, his role as chief administrative officer for the Seminole Tribe right here in Hollywood, Fla., is completely overlooked.

Rey Mosqueda has been more than just a self-employed human resources adviser, which is all you’ll get from reading BMA’s summary. He also worked for the U.S. Agriculture Department as a field operations manager and federal project director.

Michael Nagy, according to BMA, was the city manager for Paris, Ky. What the summary leaves out is that he also served as city manager for two more municipalities, Fort Morgan, Colo., and Marine City, Mich.

Dominic Ochei’s mention as a financial management adviser for something called Winrock International doesn’t begin to accurately describe his experience. The Winrock Bridge program was a public financial management reform effort in South Sudan. He also worked in Baghdad, Iraq, with the Good Governance program and has been a deputy CFO for the City of Atlanta.

James Palenick was an interim town manager for Dallas, N.C. He was also the city manager of Gastonia, N.C. The summary wouldn’t tell you that; I just did.

Vincent Passariello played key roles for the Newton County Board of Commissioners. Where is Newton County? It’s in Georgia. Another factoid missing from the summary.

Sergio Purrinos is the CEO of City Consulting. What the summary doesn’t tell you is that it is a hometown business, right here in Miami Beach. What it also doesn’t tell you – and these are striking omissions – is that Purrinos’s career includes stints as city manager of Homestead and Doral.

David Rivera is listed as a senior director of an international AIDS vaccine initiative organization. What is left out is that he once worked as a budget analyst for the New York City comptroller’s office, a role Beach commissioners might have liked to have known.

Hector Rivera is but a mere adjunct professor for South University, according to the summary. A correct reading of Rivera’s resume, however, shows that this is the South University of Palm Beach State College. And what of his time as an assistant city manager for Cape Coral, Fla.? You won’t find that in the summary.

Steven Sims – whose name is misprinted in the summary as “Sim Sim” – served as the director of business development for the Greater Cleveland (Ohio) regional transit authority. This the summary includes. He also served as economic development director for the City of Cleveland, another impressive job. This the summary ignores.

Charles Towsley is listed merely as the CEO of a maritime management firm. But any local yokel familiar with a Who’s Who of South Florida knows that Towsley looms prominently for having been the port director for the Port of Miami-Dade, nothing to sneeze at. He was also a former managing director for the Tampa Port Authority. Neither big shot position rates any mention whatsoever on BMA’s summary.

Edward Troy was the CFO for the County of Burlington. That’s in New Jersey, which the summary neglects to add. More importantly, he was the comptroller and director of finance for the Louisiana Recovery Office in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, responsible for management and oversight of the federal government’s multi-billion-dollar disaster relief effort there. This substantive, career-crowning accomplishment is completely ignored in the summary.

Elbert Waters served as a director of the South Florida Water Management District. That’s in there. What’s not in there is that he was once the assistant city administrator for West Palm Beach.

David Webb is listed as a principal for a consulting firm. The consulting firm is in Clearfield, Utah (not mentioned) and his experience as a government contract consultant is left out.

All of this raises a whole host of questions, most prominently:

Are there candidates who got shortchanged by BMA’s summary who might deserve to have been considered and recommended as finalists? Are commissioners about to make one of the most important decisions they’ll ever make without as complete a report on the qualifications of those who applied?

Did the headhunter firm to whom they assigned this important task overlook more qualified candidates among the batch due to a sloppy, less-than-A-grade effort?

Are we getting our money’s worth from BMA? More paramount, are we going to get the best damn city manager we can possibly get from out of their effort?


Sorry, Florida Lotto, but despite your commercials, there’s no better way to spell TACKY HOLIDAY GIFT than a game ticket, whose value instantly becomes that of dropped confetti or spilled spaghetti once the numbers are called. Unless, that is, it’s a winning one in which case, never mind.

Learn to pick your fights better, Dade Heritage Trust. Your push to preserve the Herald building was not only a losing gamble, but a frivolous waste of time that squandered your more noble efforts on behalf of better-deserving projects. The Herald building is NOT an architectural marvel worth preserving, and local preservation board members agreed, 5 to 3. The Herald’s moving out, the building’s coming down. Now move on to more worthy causes, DHT.

Has it been a year already? Yes, indeed it has. It was a year ago tomorrow that the Miami Beach Commission unanimously said No to Genting, to gambling, to destination casinos.


…the U.S. Postal Service. Why do I have to buy a whole book of Christmas stamps when all I need is two? Why do you do this to us every year?

About Charles Branham-Bailey


  1. mrsunnycmb says:

    My guess is that someone is pulling the strings to maneuver for the person they want. I am guessing that person is Jose Smith, City Attorney. (His contract is coming up for renewal. That should be very interesting to watch.) He is working in cahoots with who? Which Commissioners? Jerry Libbin very likely.

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