Mat-Su Borough Manager John Moosey is moving on to the same position with the City of Palmer. Moosey has been with the MSB for nine years. He was hired by the MSB in the Spring of 2011 and came here from Chisago County, Minnesota.
The City of Palmer’s current manager, Nate Wallace, who has been with the city for approximately four years, announced his resignation at the February 25th, 2020, Palmer City Council meeting. He is taking another job in the lower 48.
In what seems like a lightening quick process, the City of Palmer solicited applicants, reviewed the applications, conducted interviews, and hired their new City Manager (Moosey) in just 35 days.
The Palmer City Council, at its March 24th meeting, selected five candidates (from the total applicant pool of 11) to interview at a Special Meeting on March 31st. Here are the five candidates’ application packages. (Note: the other applications were “table documents” and the City of Palmer won’t release them without a Public Records Request and payment of 25 cents per page. Look for an upcoming blog post about the NOT very transparent “Table Documents” process employed by the COP.)
The five candidate interviews were held on Tuesday evening March 31st.
Due to the Corona Virus pandemic, only the City of Palmer Mayor plus the manager and clerk were in the Council Chambers in person for the meeting. The City Council members (except for Richard Best who was MIA) appeared via Zoom teleconference.
The three out of state candidates were interviewed via the teleconference. The two local candidates – Brad Hanson and John Moosey – appeared in person for their interviews.
Note: Brad Hanson was on the Palmer City Council for many years and now works for the City of Palmer as the Community Development Director. https://matsumuckraker.com/2018/05/31/the-city-of-palmer-hires-one-of-its-own-or-rules-are-made-to-be-broken/
The City Council asked each of the candidates the same set of questions. The interviews seemed somewhat abbreviated.
Starting with the Manager’s original list of 16 possible questions, the Council decided to ask just SIX questions (#4, 8, 10, 13, 14, and 16) plus a new question about the current Corona Virus situation. The explanation for the limited amount of questions was that most of the information was already contained in the candidates’ application packets.
NOTE: John Moosey was the 4th candidate interviewed. His interview lasted 20 minutes total.
Then the City Council went into executive session to discuss the candidates. Palmer radio station – KVRF – which was recording both the video and audio of the meeting – stopped recording at that point, so it is unknown if the City Council announced anything when they came out of executive session. A governing body is legally required to announce if they have taken any action in an executive session as soon they exit. So now we won’t know exactly how the decision went down until the official meeting minutes are prepared and released at a later date.
Moosey’s new job announcement:
On Wednesday morning, April 1st, at the very end (the final one minute) of the MSB Corona Virus press conference, MSB Mayor Vern Halter announced that John Moosey had been offered and accepted the City of Palmer manager position. He said that Moosey and the City of Palmer still need to work out the details of his contract and that Moosey gave the MSB two months’ notice and that Deputy MSB Manager George Hays thereafter would be the Interim MSB Manager.
The MatsuMuckraker wonders why this process of the City of Palmer hiring a new manager was so fast. 35 days from start to finish seems EXTREMELY quick. Only five people were interviewed. There were very few interview questions. Moosey and Hanson were not asked any specific questions about how well they are doing in their current jobs. They weren’t challenged on a single thing. One Executive Session and boom, the MSB manager is hired and the announcement is made the very next morning. Was everything decided behind the scenes well ahead of time?
FOOTNOTE RE: COUNCIL MEMBER RICHARD BEST: The MatsuMuckraker is also puzzled as to why Council Member Richard Best did not participate in this Special meeting and/or communicate with the City Clerk ahead of time and explain why he would be absent. At the initial roll call, Mr. Best was not present and the clerk said she had not had any communication from him. The Mayor inquired of the clerk at least once during the meeting (and maybe more than once) if she had heard from Mr. Best yet and the clerk said no. And yet, on his Facebook page on the very same night, he posted a link to a news story at 8:43 p.m. This was just about the exact time as the interviews were completed and the Council was entering into their executive session. If Mr. Best had access to the internet, why couldn’t he participate in the Zoom teleconference?
FOOTNOTE RE: TABLE DOCUMENTS:
As the City of Palmer “recruitment packet” and “recruitment timeline” were not included in the official meeting packet for Feb 25th (and thus are nowhere to be found on the City’s website), members of the public don’t have a convenient way to see these documents. They were only available to be picked up in person at the meeting OR they can be ordered via a public records request (at a cost of 25 cents per page.) So, the city’s fast tracking of this city manager recruitment process is mysterious. The MatsuMuckraker never noticed any published ads for the City Manager position. Normally, with a professional position, the recruitment period is much longer than two to three weeks.
Also – for comparison – look at the City of Homer’s website. They also recruited a new city manager earlier this year. However, they were far more transparent. All applications were included in the Special Meeting packet. It was 534 pages long. They do not use “table documents.”