Need for confidentiality for candidates questioned


The elected city councilors and mayor of this city are currently engaged in winnowing candidates for the vacant city manager position. We apparently are awash in 38 applications from all over the country, or so we are told.

Confidentiality is necessary, or so we are told. I disagree.

Lake Oswego is not Palm Beach or La Jolla but it's about as close as we will get on the 45th parallel. That said, it is still certainly a plum spot to land if you are a city manager with one eye on a career boost and the other on a better place to raise a family. So, why is it then, we are not publically given a full roster of those expressing 'interest'? Because we don't really need to know - at least not right now. Again, I disagree.

Is it important for taxpayers to know, in advance of filling such an important non-elected position, if each candidate:

n is a Neo-Con, flaming Liberal, Luddite, or related to Donald Trump.

n is fiscally conservative, packing 30 credit cards, or carries just coins and dryer lint.

n drives a Hummer or Prius; rides a Harley or a classic Schwinn Collegiate, or any combo.

n Likes a 2-hour cigar with a dram of Glenmorangie, Chablis with Brie, or Diet Coke and Cheetos.

n coaches daughter's soccer team or prefers a manicure after Happy Hour - or both.

n plans to live here, in Sherwood or Wilsonville.

n has a well-honed backbone or plans to be a sock puppet for the council.

n understands the distinction between honesty and truth.

n is possibly worried about what's on the hard drive or has no reason for a password.

n might invite Al Gore, Chuck Wiese or resident drawn by lottery to be grand marshal for 4th of July parade.

Why can't there be a little more pre-hire info other than nothing? Maybe we should invite each of the candidates to voluntarily submit answers to some basic questions and publish the results. Perhaps the responses can be coded so that we can 'vote' for the best ones and later 'suggest' that one candidate may have a broad appeal. And be held to the responses. Like tasting wines blindfolded, this would be a fun exercise, if nothing else.

I trust that most of the applicants are reading each issue of the Review in order to get a taste of street level chatter. (Lake Oswego Review: How many recent new subscriptions from out of town have been processed?).

I trust that each of the finalists will be truly, thoroughly, faultlessly, exhaustingly vetted. Far too many governments (read taxpayers) become saddled with under-achieving and over-reaching bureaucrats. Seems as though many of these former 'perfect' candidates bounce around the country in much the same way as school superintendants, and for similar reasons. Seems as though many of the right questions may not have been asked.

Far too many elected officials end up mitigating personnel performance problems by quickly writing big go away checks. In efforts to stave off expensive breach of contract lawsuits, councilors slink to the droll adage: 'It's the best outcome we could hope for in this situation.' It's happening everywhere and our city council would be very lucky to escape the fate of other local councils who have had to eat crow and pass out the go away checks. So far, so good - and let's keep it that way.

Measure twice, cut once.

Jon Renner is a resident of Lake Oswego.