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February 22, 2013

Interviews set for Los Banos city manager hopefuls

City officials say interviews for the Los Banos' top executive spot are scheduled to start March 2. The City Council will interview three city manager candidates March 2 and 3 in the council chamber at City Hall. Citing legal issues, council members have kept mum on whether the two original candidates, who were interviewed last year before the process broke down, remain in the pool.

City officials say interviews for the Los Banos' top executive spot are scheduled to start March 2.

The City Council will interview three city manager candidates March 2 and 3 in the council chamber at City Hall. Citing legal issues, council members have kept mum on whether the two original candidates, who were interviewed last year before the process broke down, remain in the pool.

"I can't speak to you about the candidates, the individuals we're interviewing," Mayor Pro Tem Elizabeth Stonegrove said. "I can tell you that we're interviewing three people.

"We were given strict instructions by our city attorney."

Mayor Mike Villalta also declined to speak about last year's candidates.

Teri Black-Brann of the recruiting firm Teri Black & Co. said she attended the League of California Cities city managers meeting in San Francisco late last month.

"We did a lot of networking and have talked to a lot of officials over the last few weeks," she said.

The City Council could conceivably hire a city manager by early March and have that person in place later that month, Black-Brann said in January.

The council last interviewed candidates in the fall, and eliminated hopefuls from a group of 40 until two candidates remained in October.

After a former council member missed a meeting because of surgical complications, members of the council, candidates and the recruiter failed to reschedule a date.

The search effectively stalled during the November election, and the recruiter recommended that the City Council postpone the process until after the looming changes to the elected seats.

Before continuing the process, Black-Brann requested $4,000 more in December. The additional fee did not exceed the original budgeted amount for recruitment of $29,500, according to city staff.

The city is not currently paying anyone a full city manager's salary. Acting City Manager and Police Chief Gary Brizzee is covering those two jobs at a monthly salary of $10,937, $770 more per month than he made as police chief alone. He's held both jobs since Nov. 1.

Los Banos Enterprise reporter Thaddeus Miller can be reached at (209) 388-6562 or at tmiller@losbanosenterprise.com.

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