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What are the chances?

September 4, 2010
Cape Coral Daily Breeze

Some Cape residents are crying foul about perceived cronyism they say has been perpetrated by some on council and our new city manager, Gary King.

Their war cry rallies around the philosophy "Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action."

The "enemy"?

The contract-signing cabal on city council and their former campaign supporter, now newly appointed city manager, Mr. King.

Officials say political favoritism has played no role in three recent appointments, the best people were here, known, and selected fairly.

Let's look at the process.

Mr. King was vetted via a publicly announced, publicly advertised, publicly open hiring process. That process included an initial 75 applicants; culled down to 33 qualified applicants ranked into best, better and qualified tiers by Human Resources based only on their resume claims; screened down to 17 semi-finalists asked to respond to a council-developed essay Q&A; and then culled into six finalists, the out-of-towners of which were on their own financially to show up for an estimated hour- long interview with council.

Mr. King emerged as, well, king of this fertile field, with council supporters saying that they all along had wanted a "change agent" from the business sector, not necessarily anyone who had held a similar, public-sector position before.

Mr. King's role in the development of the Contract for Cape Coral - the campaign platform adopted by Mayor John Sullivan and Chris Chulakes-Leetz, endorsed also by council members Bill Deile and Pete Brandt as well as council appointee/deciding vote Erick Keuhn - played no part in the selection process, we have all been assured.

The public has been provided with much the same answer concerning Mr. King's appointment of his two "Organizational Effectiveness Program consultants," Bill Towler and Jim Martin.

The process this go-around?

The $39 an hour positions were advertised on the city Web site only, resulting in eight applicants.

Mr. King tapped Mr. Towler and Mr. Martin, citing Mr. Towler's experience in developing a fraud division for an insurance company and Mr. Martin's as an engineer with Rockwell International in naming his choices for these temporary contract positions.

Mr. King did not, though, cite Mr. Towler's role as the editor of a web newsletter/newspaper supportive of the Contract for Cape Coral agenda and the campaigns of Mayor Sullivan and Councilmember Chulakes-Leetz and of Mr. Martin's unsuccessful candidacy on the same ticket.

What it comes down to is, can lightning strike once, strike twice, strike thrice, in the same spot, illuminating the same small pool?

Well, the Cape hasn't earned its reputation as a political lightning rod for nothing, and virtually anything is apparently possible.

The probability of such a trifecta, though is pretty slim - the number of zeros tacked on to the odds, would, in fact, takes up more space than we have here.

If we were Mr. King, Towler and Martin, we'd invest in a lottery ticket or two.

They, though, don't need to.

It seems as part of the winning council ticket, their paychecks are guaranteed for at least the immediate future, no matter how they got there.

- Breeze editorial



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