Why we should care about contracts (3-13-2023)

How a City Manager performs his job is dictated by the contract he signs when he is hired. He is in charge of all day-to-day business of the City. Why is it important to know what it his contract says, or better yet, why should you care what it says? This contract matters because it limits what he can and cannot do.

The City Manager needs to be trustworthy, respectful, ethical, and have a good approachable character with the utmost integrity. They should possess strong listening skills, possess the ability to communicate, be a diplomat, have strong leadership skills, good time management, be able to budget and keep the city on budget. They should have all of these skills because they will be handling disagreements and negotiating with multiple and varied groups of people.

For instance, if we need a new flood channel it is his responsibility to find companies that provide that kind of service. He then takes the company he found to the Council and they decide if they want to fund that project, and if so they approve it. Can he pick a company to submit to the council just because he likes it, or because the company is owned by friends or acquaintances? Yes. Can he pick them even if they are not really qualified? Yes, that is always a worry. That is why citizens have to hope that the Council picked an ethical person. Can the Council tell the Manager what company to pick? No, they are not allowed to influence or direct him to hire one company over another, unless a contract says they can. Finding someone or some company to work for the city is part of a Managerís responsibilities. It is what he is hired to do, period.

What if the city needs a new employee, can he hire whomever he wants? Yes. Can the Council tell him whom to hire? No. They are not even allowed to suggest anyone to him. Why not? Because it says so in his contract. In this contract, the Council can only direct the City Manager when they are in session. They cannot walk down the hall and suggest things to him, no conference around the water cooler. They can only direct him when they are in session. Can the City Manager designate how much the new employee will be paid? Yes. However, all budget items like salaries must be approved by the Council in session.

Why Chris Mannís Contract Matters

Our new City Managerís contract, and what is in it, should matter to you! His contract tells us how many hours he will work. He is being hired part-time for a full-time position, with a full-time salary and benefits. He gets to hire and fire people and companies who will work for or with the City. He decides what those people or companies are paid. His contract tells us he will work for us one year at a time, and he can be fired for a felony that affects the City. It does not tell us what his experience or qualifications are because he never submitted a resume. To keep the City safe from conflicts of interest, this contract should tell us in what other activities Mr. Mannís will be limited.

Mr. Mann is a paid political operative.
His company, Mann Communications deals specifically with the political process. He works to influence public policy, to hire political staffers. He is hired to influence how people vote, to effect who is elected and to affect how developers are allowed to develop property within a city or county. Is this type of work potentially a conflict of interest? Yes, most definitely. Therefore, his contract should specify how he will be able to continue that work, because his contract says he will be continuing this work. If he is allowed to perform certain types of activities, activities that could influence people within our city, or influence businesses that might want to do business with our city, the city he is being paid to run, those are possible conflicts of interest. Conflict of interest clauses need to be put into Mr. Mannís contract to protect the City from future litigation. These are pretty important clauses to look for in this type of contract.

These types of issues along with many others are why we have gone through his contract to see what it says. Below you can see what we found.

Thank you,
Your Friends of the North Bench