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City manager evaluation process debated

December 12, 2012
By KYLE WHITNEY - Journal Staff Writer ( , The Mining Journal

MARQUETTE - Though some members voiced discontent with the process, the Marquette City Commission this week appointed members to a sub-committee tasked with reviewing the commission's evaluations of City Manager Bill Vajda.

The group voted 6-1 to appoint commissioners Robert Niemi, Fred Stonehouse and Jason Schneider to a review committee. The trio will review evaluations completed by each of the commissioners and return to the full board with a recommendation for Vajda's salary and compensation.

Commissioner Don Ryan, who cast the lone dissenting vote, said the current evaluation process focused on outdated goals for the manager. He said he had no problem with Vajda or his job performance, though he would have rather seen the full commission discuss how the review would be conducted.

"I'm mostly disappointed because I don't believe the process that's been laid out rises to the level of what an evaluation should be for the chief executive officer of the city," he said. "I think we should have sat at this table and said, 'How are we going to do this evaluation?' Then we should have done it and we should have moved forward."

The two newest commissioners, Sara Cambensy and Mike Coyne - sitting in on their second full commission meeting - said they didn't like being expected to evaluate Vajda so soon into their terms.

"I didn't think it was right," Cambensy said of the timing of the review. "Why are we doing it in January when the elections happen in November?"

Vajda's current employment contract stipulates that his annual evaluation occur by mid-January.

"I am very uncomfortable evaluating someone's performance, one, without direction, and two, in such a short time," Coyne said. "I am not going to fill it out."

Coyne and Schneider urged their fellow commissioners to hold a meeting or work session shortly after the review in order to form a structure and timeline for future reviews of the city manager and city attorney.

Kyle Whitney can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250.



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