Outtakes: Please Post Openings
Pensacola Mayor Grover Robinson has selected most of his senior leadership team without doing national, statewide or even local job searches for the positions. City hall promotions have become an insider’s game.
After his election, Robinson announced that retired FAC Executive Director Chris Holley would be his city administrator. The hiring of Holley was seen as a move to give Robinson time to do a nationwide search. However, no search was done. No outside applicants were sought. Wilkins, a holdover from the Hayward administration whom we had been told was leaving, is the new city administrator and has agreed to stay until at least December 2021, according to the mayor.
CFO Dick Barker is going to be replaced by former Interim County Administrator Amy Lovoy, who was hired last summer as deputy CFO without a job opening being posted by the city. Instead of leaving city hall, Barker will hang around as assistant city administrator in charge of supervising sanitation, the port, the airport, Pensacola Energy and special projects.
The mayor’s transition team, chaired by Quint Studer, recommended that Robinson hire an operational administrator that was experienced in growing revenue to oversee the leaders of Pensacola Energy, Pensacola International Airport, Sanitation Services and the Port of Pensacola. Barker doesn’t meet that criteria, and according to his statement, he doesn’t plan to retire until December 2023.
The replacement for the airport director, Dan Flynn, appears to have been already hired. Lovoy’s successor at the county, Matt Coughlin, was hired by Robinson in August to be the deputy director of Pensacola International Airport. The city didn’t seek outside applicants for the job.
Earlier this year, Robinson announced that Susan Wolfe would be the city attorney. Again, no search was done for the post. We heard that the mayor had talked with several people about the position, but no open search was done. Wolfe was the attorney for Clerk of Court Pam Childers and had served as assistant city attorney under the city-manager form of government.
Robinson’s reluctance to go outside the county-city gene pool is disappointing considering how solid his other hires have been. Assistant City Administrator Kerrith Fiddler came from Kissimmee, Fla., where he served as the Public Works and Engineering director. Sanitation Services and Fleet Management Director John Pittman served as assistant director of Residential Collections for DeKalb County, Ga. Transportation Planner Mike Ziarnek joined the city from Florida Department of Transportation District 5, where he served as the Bicycle/Pedestrian Coordinator. Human Resources Director Ted Kirchharr worked 13 years for the Landrum companies.
There are highly qualified professionals available who want to work for the city of Pensacola. We need to give them a chance to apply.