Carbondale hustling to find new city manager

Submitted by Carbondale Times on

Geoffrey Ritter
Weekend Times

The Carbondale City Council is “going to hustle” in the coming days, Mayor Mike Henry says, to name a temporary city manager after abruptly parting ways with former manager Kevin Baity last week.

The city council is holding two closed sessions this week — one following last night's regular council meeting and the second one Wednesday — to interview candidates for interim city manager. After naming someone to temporarily hold the job, the council will conduct a search for a permanent candidate, Henry said last week. He said the council may or may not use an outside consultant in the search.

Henry stunned the city Oct. 1 by announcing that the council and Baity, who has served as city manager since January 2012, had come to a mutual decision to part ways. Citing personnel laws, Henry was conspicuously short on details at a press conference, although he said the council’s recent evaluation of Baity’s job performance set events in motion.

“We worked through his evaluation, which the previous council had asked this council to do,” Henry said. “We were actually a couple months late in doing that. We used the exact same questionnaires that we used before. The questionnaires went to every city council person and every department head. Those were compiled … and then sent to the city council for our evaluation in closed session.”

Contacted by the Times, Baity declined to comment.

Henry said results of the evaluation were compared with a previous performance review.

“What we were looking for was what areas of his performance that the previous council had been concerned about … and when we saw little or no improvement, or actually a little bit of a lower score on those areas, it led us to take the action we’re taking,” Henry said.

Henry insisted the action was a mutual decision between the council and Baity, and he said the council had largely arrived at its decision toward the end of Baity’s search for a new police chief. That process ended about two and a half weeks ago with Baity’s hiring of the then-interim chief, Jeff Grubbs, to the full-time position. Incidentally, the former police chief whom Baity fired in summer 2014, Jody O’Guinn, was present in the crowd at Thursday’s press conference.

Baity, an SIU graduate, previously served as a city administrator in Flora before coming to Carbondale government in 2006 as assistant city manager. He rose to the level of director of Development Services before succeeding Allen Gill as city manager in early 2012.

Henry said the legal details of Baity’s severance remain uncertain, although he expected them to be finalized within the next week. Henry characterized the event as a “friendly departure,” not a firing. Until an interim is named, Assistant City Manager Gary Williams will perform any essential tasks.

Henry said the decision was a difficult one for the council.

“Right now his employee file will not reflect any negligence or poorly upon his job here. It just came down to it’s not a good fit for what we’re trying to do now,” Henry said.