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Credentials do matter

March 12, 2011
Cape Coral Daily Breeze

The city of Cape Coral has received 75 applications for a new director's position proposed by City Manager Gary King.

Mr. King wants to reorganize the Public Works Department and, in the process, to create a utilities director's post.

The department-wide reorganization, not yet fully presented, will save the city money, Mr. King has said.

We're all for saving money and have no problem with the city's top administrator looking for ways for the city's various departments to run more efficiently.

We're also gratified that the city has received a good number of well-qualified applicants for what will be a key position, should Cape Coral City Council approve the departmental reorganization later this month.

We do have one concern, however, and it is one that has been expressed by professionals both locally and at the state level.

With leadership ability being a - if not the - top trait sought, the city's administration did not make a professional engineer's license a job requirement, nor did it make the "minimum of ten (10) years progressive experience in water and sewer utilities" qualification listed a requirement. Instead, the posting for the position lists both the license and direct experience as "preferred."

Casting the net a little wider may not have roiled into the controversy it did had not Mr. King generalized to council about his perception of the leadership abilities of engineers as a whole. Nor did it help that Councilmember Pete Brandt - himself a retired aerospace engineer who has taught engineering - said the state's testing/licensing requirements for the PE designation is little more than a revenue-generating tool.

Perhaps the council member had the PE process confused with the Cape's occupational license/business tax, but no matter, the comments drew the ire of licensed engineers near and far. And they are quite adamant that professional engineers do possess good leadership skills and the PE designation is not something one buys, it is something one earns through rigorous testing and continuing education.

The PE license also is required for certain engineering tasks, including signing off on plans and documents, something the city may want to consider as the duties cited for the new director's post include "Administers and produces designs, cost estimates and time schedules, budgets, reports, technical and specifications for a variety of municipal utility projects including future utility extension projects."

It's time to pull the net to shore and select the keepers.

That would be the best credentialed among the applicant pool, which includes a number of people with the "preferred" qualifications.

Hire the best - that's the person with the education, professional designations and applicable experience for the specific task at hand - to lead one of the largest public utilities departments in the state.

With a pay range of $81,307.20 -$134,139.20, plus benefits, the taxpayers - and the overburdened utility ratepayers - deserve nothing less.

- Breeze Newspapers



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