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SPECIAL MEETING OF THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF NOVI
THURSDAY, JANUARY 27, 2000, AT 7:00 PM
COUNCIL CHAMBERS Ė NOVI CIVIC CENTER Ė 45175 W. TEN MILE ROAD
Mayor Clark called the meeting to order at 7:05 PM
PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
ROLL CALL: Mayor Clark, Mayor ProTem Lorenzo, Council Members Bononi, Crawford, Csordas, DeRoche and Kramer
ALSO PRESENT: Tia Gronlund-Fox, Human Resource Specialist
AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION - None
PURPOSE OF SPECIAL MEETING Ė City Manager Interviews
Mr. Klaver said that he would like to publicly thank Tia Gronlund-Fox for the excellent job she has done in his absence. He will be leaving the meeting, but he would like to mention that there is a conflict with Councilman Kramer on the proposed date of February 12 for the second round interviews. He asked what is Councilís pleasure in either looking at another date or videotaping the interviews for Member Kramerís review.
After discussion, it was the consensus of Council that the second round of interviews could be scheduled for Saturday, March 4th. Matter to be placed on the January 24 Council Agenda.
Mr. Klaver was excused from the meeting.
MARK VANDERPOOL- SKOKIE, IL
Mr. Vanderpool said that he is very pleased to be considered for the City Manager position. He is currently the Assistant Village Manager in Skokie, Illinois. Skokie is a community of 62,000 population, north of the City of Chicago. To the east is the City of Evanston. They are about two and one-half miles from Lake Michigan and are the major commercial and retail hub for the entire region. Like the City of Novi, they have a large shopping center with 140 plus stores. They have another mall at the south end of town. Skokie has also been experiencing significant growth over the last five years like Novi and have been averaging between 50-70 million dollars annually in new construction activity. In 1999, they averaged 100 million dollars in new construction activity. In terms of growth, Skokie is similar to Novi, although most of their growth has been redevelopment.
Mr. Vanderpool went on to say that as Assistant Village Manager, he has a significant amount of duties and authority that make his position equivalent to many City Manager positions throughout the area. In the Village of Skokie, he serves as Budget Officer, in charge of their 70 million-dollar budget. All departments submit their budget requests to him and he reviews them in consultation with the Village Manager and Finance Director. More often than not, they have to make significant cuts after which they present a balanced budget for the Boardís consideration. He is also responsible for the Villageís 45 million-dollar Capital Improvement Program. He resurrected that program about five years ago because they did not have a Capital Improvement Program in place for approximately ten years prior to that time. He has overseen numerous functions in the
Village, for example; he oversees Management Information Services, Risk Management Division, Personnel Department, Human Services Department, Health Department and the Performing Arts Center. Recently, they constructed a 20 million-dollar Performing Arts Center and he served as the Project Coordinator. He is still the Project Coordinator, which entailed overseeing the construction. The most difficult part was designing the organizational structure for the facility. They had a choice of either creating their own department or privatizing management of the operation. Like Noviís Ice Arena, they decided that privatization was the way to go. He led the national recruitment efforts trying to get a management firm and did that very successfully as the management firm is in the fourth year of their contract.
Mr. Vanderpool said that he is also very involved in Economic Development activities in Skokie. They have three tax increment financing districts and have been able to do a lot of redevelopment and economic development just with the revenue the three districts have generated. He is involved with the Villageís marketing/image campaign commissioned by the Village Board about two years ago, not because Skokie needed to change their image, but because they wanted to show the region and country the finer points of Skokie.
Before Skokie, Mr. Vanderpool was the Assistant City Manager in Tecumseh, Michigan, south of Saline, with a population of about 8,000. He was very involved in economic development projects, budgeting, personnel and various administrative functions for the City. Prior to Tecumseh, he was back in Skokie as an Administrative Intern for two years and his main function was budgeting. Prior to that tenure, he was in Aurora Colorado as an Intern in the City Managerís Office. Aurora is a large community of 250,000 population and growing.
Mr. Vanderpool said that he is married with four children, ages four to twelve. His wife is from Tecumseh, Michigan. His wife and children are avid Detroit Red Wing, Pistons, Tigers and Lions fans. He is an avid Blackhawk, Cubs, Bears and Bullís fan. They have a great rivalry in their house. He is an avid race fan, spending a lot of time at the M.I.S. a few times per year. He was pleased to learn that Novi has a Motorsports Museum and the racecar watermark on their stationery
Member Bononi asked what he considers to be the most critical components of customer service and how would he implement those critical components as City Manager?
Mr. Vanderpool said that first and foremost, customer service has to be a priority. He is currently going through extensive training in Skokie with customer service, not only internal, but also external customer service. They have been putting 500 full-time employees through a comprehensive service-training program for the past year. He feels that municipalities need a philosophy of customer service. As City Manager, after consultation with the Board, clearly setting the objectives for customer service and where the organization may be deficient, then it is a matter of setting the appropriate training. There is a service to sell and the City employees must have a customer service attitude. In his mind, this is a very high priority.
Member Bononi asked with regard to his municipal experience, how would he describe his most important and environmentally related accomplishment; such as water quality, air quality, preservation of critical and environmental areas.
Mr. Vanderpool said that one of his greatest recent accomplishments was in Skokie where they had a large unaccounted for water loss. They were losing their municipal water and had unaccounted water loss close to 20%. Over the years, through various infrastructure improvements and water main replacements, they recently completed a five million-dollar water system improvement. They were able to correct that and bring that down to an approximate 5% unaccounted for water loss. Environmentally, that is very important because water is very precious to the region. They also had a redevelopment project in the south end of town where they had to work years with the State of Illinois trying to get the site cleaned up for redevelopment. After a very extensive effort with the State and finally getting the site cleaned up, just last year, they were able to begin their redevelopment efforts.
Member Bononi asked how he would define the concept of smart growth and how would he apply the concept to the City of Novi as City of Manager?
Mr. Vanderpool said that smart growth is making good effective utilization of property in an entire region; working in a collaborative effort with the County, surrounding municipalities, and with the State to make sure property that is developed, is developed in such a manner that it not only meets the needs and goals and objectives of the municipality, but also in the entire region. Infill is a common variable of smart growth. Novi is currently doing a lot of smart growth. Main Street is a good example of that where there is commercial and residential development close together. Smart growth is getting away from the traditional zoning classifications and looking at creative ways to use land more effectively to bring people closer together and to make services more convenient to residents, businesses and industry. In the Village of Skokie, they are practicing that in the downtown area. The Boardís objective, over the last few years, has been to bring people to the downtown, which is what municipalities need. In order for downtownís to survive, they must have people living in the downtowns. Skokie has developed numerous parcels in the downtown to include mixed-use developments, which is a very important component to smart growth. Novi is doing a lot of smart growth and he would like to continue the trend and do it in more of a deliberate fashion would be very important.
Member Bononi said that as a City Manager, he receives repeated complaints from citizens about the selective enforcement of certain City Ordinances. The Ordinance is clear but the compliance efforts are falling very much short and the citizens are not satisfied. What is his response?
Mr. Vanderpool said that code enforcement is very important. Code enforcement also has to be on a level playing field. In the Village of Skokie, he is very involved in code enforcement and serves as the chairperson of their Code Enforcement Committee. He was also involved in developing an Administrative Adjudication Program, whereby they adjudicate code enforcement and citations in-house instead of through Circuit Court. They found using Circuit Court was not effective. They hired an Administrative Hearing
Officer who rules on these cases. The Officerís judgment is final, unless an individual wants to appeal it to Circuit Court. The program has worked very effectively. Their code enforcement and compliance has gone up. The community is happier that the Village is out aggressively enforcing their building, health and other various codes.
Member Bononi said if he were approached by a land owner who wishes the City to buy his property, but he had not been directed by City Council to seek property acquisitions and the property owner suggests that he get involved in the details of his proposed sale, what would he do?
Mr. Vanderpool said that first he would not get involved without the Boardís knowledge. He feels it is very important that the Board be apprised at all times of economic development activity, such as land acquisition. Land acquisition can be very litigious and any involvement should involve the City Council. Objectives have to be set upfront. What are the Councilís economic objectives? What are the Councilís land acquisition objectives over the next year or two? What areas are targeted for land acquisition? Assuming this individual parcel is targeted for economic development and the Council is interested in purchasing the property that would be a different story. If the property does not fall within those perimeters, he would politely decline the meeting. He might do some fact finding on his own and report to Council on the inquiry.
Ms. Gronlund-Fox asked if he was hired as City Manager for the City of Novi, what does he believe to be his most challenging undertaking and how would he go about accomplishing that?
Mr. Vanderpool said that the most challenging undertaking for the community seems to be traffic mitigation, road improvements, continuing the high quality of growth that Novi has fostered so well over the years and continuing to provide the level of excellence that the community has come to expect. He does not have a cookie cutter approach on how to do that. He would need to analyze what the Councilís objectives are on these high priorities. He feels it is a matter of collaborating with the Council and staff and clearly establishing the priorities and objectives and following through.
Ms. Gronlund -Fox said if she were to ask the people that know him, both personally and professionally, to describe him in three words, what words would they use and why?
Mr. Vanderpool said that they would say he is ethical, professional and fair. As Budget Officer, he has exposure to every nook and cranny of the organization. He works closely with the community, elected officials, other governmental agencies and the entire staff. It is a difficult assignment to prepare a balanced budget that meets all the objectives and priorities that the Council hopes to achieve .At times, millions of dollars have to be cut from budget requests, especially from police and fire, which can be very challenging.
Ms Gronlund-Fox asked Mr. Vanderpool what the words "work ethic" and "integrity" mean to him.
Mr. Vanderpool said that work ethic in the municipal business means having a commitment to elected officials, citizens, coworkers and subordinates. It means hard work and being fair. It also means to be able to balance your personal life with your professional life. To have a good work ethic, integrity is needed. They are mutually inclusive.
Member Lorenzo asked if he had initiated or implemented any human resource or departmental policies that either saved the city money or provided greater efficiency.
Mr. Vanderpool said that the most recent and significant is the restructuring of their management information services. Previously, that was part of the Finance Department and called Data Processing. It was not working for them. Today, Information technology has a far broader scope than data processing. Being an arm of finance, they were not getting the job done. Data processing did not have the capability of providing the overall organizational services that were needed. He recommended complete restructuring that function. He moved data processing out of Finance and put it into the Managerís Office under his supervision. He created three new positions and gave the function a much higher profile in the organization. He hired a Management Information Services Director and a full-time trainer. In the past, they always contracted out training with the local community college, which did a great job and they still partner with them on training projects. However, with their own full-time trainer, they can focus on training every single day. They built a training room in their Village Hall and have classes weekly. They conduct computer classes on WordPerfect, e-mail, Internet, spreadsheets and learning how to use their state-of-the-art document management and imaging system. This has resulted in considerable cost savings because they no longer have to pay the very costly fees to contractor. It also has improved moral throughout the organization. Their employees are now getting this attention on a regular basis in a function that effects their daily lives. They are a model in terms of IT where they were obsolete three or four years ago. All users have access to the Internet for research projects and use e-mail increasingly more. Their scanning and imaging software has cut down on hard copy storage. They can retrieve files from ten years ago instantly. Two-three years ago, it took them two hours to search for a given file.
Member Lorenzo said that both in the private and public sector, empowerment has been popular over the last few years. When employees are empowered, and an employee decision either results in or contributes to a financial loss for the city, an embarrassing situation, or less than quality development project, what do you do?
Mr. Vanderpool said that everyone learns from mistakes and mistakes are going to happen. He feels it is important to empower employees, but it is also important that they be given the proper resources, tools and training. It has to be a collaborative approach, something that is strategically planned and something that has been very well thought
but with considerable amount of discussion at various levels of the organization. He feels empowerment and team building is important. Business today cannot be conducted in a vacuum and the traditional hierarchy structures do not work in this sophisticated day in age. Employees have become more knowledgeable and can do more now. Problem solving is easier when employees are empowered and they work in teams. He would do everything to continue that and make sure that mistakes are not made and avoided.
Member Lorenzo asked what he thought was an effective risk management policy.
Mr. Vanderpool said that Skokie felt an effective Risk Management Policy was creating a risk management division. They are fully self-insured for workers compensation, general and auto liability and health plan. It was becoming very complicated to manage their self-insured program and to manage risk. They felt this could be done with a full-time Risk Management Division and a full-time Risk Manager. In the past, they used the team approach with himself, Finance Director, Personnel Director serving on the insurance team, which, he felt, was not doing the job. One way to deal with risk is to realize that there is risk and devote the right resources to manage risk. They have very aggressive comprehensive training programs in all departments, especially Public Works and Fire Department, in terms of lifting and trenching. They also have training in contracts and run all development and construction agreements through their Risk Management Division and their legal department.
Member Lorenzo asked what aspects of the City Managerís position does he feel he would enjoy the most?
Mr. Vanderpool said that he enjoys the diversity of the business in especially the City Manager position; such as working closely with the elected officials on a daily basis, the business community and the citizens. He enjoys solving citizen complaints,working with the labor groups and having the ability to work with a wide variety of groups to guide the cityís growth and progress is most gratifying.
Member Lorenzo asked what aspects of the City Managerís position does he feel he would least enjoy?
Mr. Vanderpool said he loves the business and cannot think of anything that he would like least. His position at the current time is equivalent to many City Manager positions.
Member Lorenzo asked if potentially contaminating material were illegally dumped on City property by City employees, how would he handle the situation? Would there be any consequences and to what degree?
Mr. Vanderpool said that first he would have to deal with the problem at hand and determine the severity. He would expect that there is an emergency operation plan in place. If Novi does not have one, then that would be one of the first matters ihe would work on. That plan should be activated immediately, emergency operation center should be activated and the appropriate personnel should be convened to begin defining the scope of the problem, then how to respond to the problem. At the same
time, he would notify the Mayor and Council immediately of the situation and begin solving the problem. The priority is to get the problem solved then deal with the employee part of the problem. There would be consequences if it were done deliberately. The severity of the situation would depend on the consequences. If it was not deliberate, there also would be consequences but in a different form. Action would have to be taken to see that situation did not happen again.
Member Lorenzo asked if the Mayor and a City Council member shared some information with him that could be relevant to a future decision by the Council, would he share that information with the rest of the Council or would he expect the Mayor or the Council person who shared the information with him to do so?
Mr. Vanderpool said that the entire Council should be aware of the situation. When he is responding to an individual Trustee on a particular matter and follows-up with a correspondence, he will copy the entire Board on that correspondence. He feels it is important to have open lines of communications.
Member Lorenzo asked if the City was the unsuccessful party in a lawsuit and the media calls him for a response, but he has not discussed the matter with Council and the Council has not come to any conclusions, how would he respond?
Mr. Vanderpool said that should never happen. It is the obligation of the City Manager to keep the Council informed on any matter in litigation, especially if there is a judgment about to be rendered and if there is a chance that judgment may not be favorable. It is important that the Council is aware of the situation and what the response might be. Those situations require a strategic approach. The last thing he would want to do is make quotes in the paper about a litigation that would surprise the Council. He would avoid that at all costs.
Member Lorenzo asked if there was an allegation of sexual harassment within a department, how would he approach the situation? If there was sufficient evidence, would there be any discipline action taken?
Mr. Vanderpool said that Noviís Personnel Policy should deal with this type of situation. If there were no Personnel Policy, then this would be one of his highest priorities to establish. When there is an allegation of sexual harassment, it needs to be investigated thoroughly and there should be an established process for the investigation. There should be a process for the person alleging sexual harassment to follow. After the allegation and assuming the investigation validates that there has been sexual harassment, then disciplinary action should be taken. The Personnel Policy should set the perimeters for this type of action.
Member Lorenzo asked if he felt department heads should be aware of any potential sexual harassment problem that may be occurring in their department and if they are not aware and this happens, would there be any consequences for the department head?
Mr. Vanderpool said that it is the responsibility of the department head to be aware of what is going on in their department. They should know if there are any practices that
could lead to sexual harassment in their department. If the department head were not aware of a sexual harassment situation, he would be very concerned. Department heads should be held accountable if they were not aware of the situation. Personnel are the most important part of the business and department heads should be aware of personnel matters within their departments.
Member Kramer asked if he would give a brief synopsis of his educational and professional background, focusing on areas that would directly relate to being City Manager in Novi.
Mr. Vanderpool said that he has a lot of capital improvement programming abilities. Capital improvement programming will continue to be a need for Novi for many years to come. He feels his experience with growth and growth management, especially in Skokie, is advantageous to Novi. He has had to work with the Village Manager restructuring their Planning and Building Departments to create a more user friendly and customer service oriented Community Development Department that involved eliminating the two Director positions and creating a Community Development Director position. Skokie and Novi are similar. The Village of Skokie and City of Novi enjoys a very good reputation in the area of market image campaigning. He knows that Novi is highly regarded in other States as well as Michigan. However, Novi has had a few issues that could tarnish their image, but should not tarnish their image. He feels his ability to effectively work with the Council to address those issues would be advantageous. His involvement with the Performing Arts Center and the privatization of that is also related with some of the experiences Novi has had with their ice rink. He is familiar with economic development activities and has worked with the downtown development authority in Tecumseh. He is familiar with tax increment financing. His well-rounded diverse experience in Tecumseh and Skokie would be very advantageous to the City of Novi.
Member Kramer asked what was his greatest accomplishment and why?
Mr. Vanderpool said that his proudest accomplishment is the Performing Arts Center in Skokie. The construction was the easy part; the organizational issues were the hard part. He learned some good lessons through that experience. He is convinced privatizing was the right thing to do. The Center is paying dividends for Skoie at the current time, although they still have a subsidy and are well on their way to the facility being self-sufficient. There were some problems with the General Manager of the facility chosen by the Management Firm. They had to force some General Manager changes in the contract, but everything is working well. The food and beverage agreement with the Doubletree Hotel is working very well. This also serves as a mini-convention center and a civic hall for the community, in addition to a two-theatre facility. The community has endorsed facility and the business community has been supportive. The philanthropic community has also been supportive. They recently received a one million-dollar donation from the foundation.
Member Kramer asked what his approach would be to increasing community outreach and involving citizen participation in government?
Mr. Vanderpool said that community participation is very important. Like Novi, Skokie has numerous boards and commissions. Recently, the Mayor established an elected official liaison to each board and commission to bridge any communication gap that may exist and to better communicate with the community. They also, through their marketing campaign, established a special training program and newsletter program with their boards, commissions and businesses in the community so they could serve as ambassadors. In addition, surveying is a good tool. They do a lot of that in Skokie. He recently reviewed proposals for choosing a research firm to do their next level of statistically valid surveying to get a flavor for what individuals in the region and outside of Skokie were thinking of buying a home. There are many tools that can be used effectively to solicit citizen involvement. Focus groups can be one of those tools. With such a plethora of options, he thinks it is important for the City Manager to work with the City Council to determine what is the most effective approach.
Member Kramer asked how he would go about encouraging, supporting, creating, finding, applying initiative, and innovative thoughts to his administration?
Mr. Vanderpool said that he has an open door policy and a fan to team approach to problem solving. He believes problems are best solved with a group team approach. There is no possible way the City Manager can have all the answers to any staff problem that may arise.
Member Crawford said he was impressed with Mr. Vanderpoolís knowledge about Novi and asked where he obtained his information?
Mr. Vanderpool replied that his wife was born and raised in Tecumseh, Michigan. They went to Skokie, not because they wanted to leave Michigan; but because of his opportunity to work in Skokie. At the time they left, about seven years ago, he was driving through Novi and said to his wife "one day they will be back in Michigan and if there is a place he wants to be in Michigan, it is Novi". When he learned of the opening in Novi, he was very excited. He has done a lot of research and feels that he could not make a decision of becoming City Manager without being knowledgeable of issues going on in the community. He has been reading the local news, has been on the Internet regularly and spoke to several individuals in the area.
Member Crawford asked how many square miles is Skokie?
Mr. Vanderpool replied that Novi is 30 square miles and the Village of Skokie is 10 square miles and are fully built out.
Member Crawford asked what is his philosophy and experience in dealing with the news media?
Mr. Vanderpool said that as part of his resume, he submitted some editorials and clipping that he received when he left the City of Tecumseh which are examples of how he works with the media. He works with media extensively in Skokie as well as in Tecumseh. He has a good rapport with the media. His philosophy has been to be very open and very responsive. He does not dodge reporter calls and makes sure the media gets a response.
Member Crawford asked how he feels about residency requirements for City employees and specifically City Managers?
Mr. Vanderpool said that he feels there should be a residency requirement for the City Manager and some top management employees. He cannot believe any City Manager candidate would have a problem with living in Novi. Novi is a great place to live with a variety of housing available. Regarding employees, it would depend on the current union agreement position on residency. He feels boundaries are needed for public safety employees. He would have to get a better feel on what the elected officials and labor force desires on some of the issues.
Member Crawford said if he stopped by Skokie, what would his co-workers say about him?
Mr. Vanderpool said that he is a devoted public servant and believes in the Council/Manager concept. He feels his co-workers would say that they enjoy working with him, that he is demanding, and they would be sorry to see him go. He would be sorry to leave them because he has a highly professional staff. He has a great rapport with his Secretary who he will really miss. She will be retiring in May If the Fire Chief were contacted, he would say that there is a mutual respect and when there are disagreements, they professionally agree to disagree.
Member Crawford asked if there was anything that he could see that would potentially interfere with his job at City Manager?
Mr. Vanderpool replied there is nothing that could interfere with his job as City Manager.
Member Csordas asked Mr. Vanderpool what is his most challenging responsibility in his current position and why?
Mr. Vanderpool said that the budget is the most challenging and is the life and blood of the organization. He places a high degree of importance on the budget. It is also the most rewarding responsibility. There is nothing more gratifying then getting a budget passed and implementing it.
Member Csordas asked how he would describe his leadership style and how would he improve on that style.
Mr. Vanderpool said that he has a participatory approach to leadership. He believes that staff has to be involved in decision making and a team approach is needed. He feels he does a good job, but there is always room for improvement. Perhaps he could have a few retreats with staff and elected officials a couple times per year to talk about objectives, aside from the budget hearings and workshops. A good Manager has to be able to understand that there cannot be a cookie cutter approach to every situation. Sometimes he has to adapt his management style to certain circumstances or individuals. Some individuals need a more direct leadership than others while others require more independence.
Member Csordas said that Council believes that this is the best City Manager opportunity in the State, but why is he looking to come to Novi as a City Manager and why is he considering leaving his current position?
Mr. Vanderpool said that he has a great position and lives in a great community and very well compensated in Skokie. He is not a job hopper and has good tenure every where he has worked. He is looking at Novi because Novi has the attributes that he requires to move on to a City Manager position. Novi enjoys a very good reputation and is very professional. Novi has financial and political stability, with growth challenges. Novi has everything that he needs in terms of progressing on to a City Manager position. Without those attributes, he would be foolish to leave Skokie for any other reason.
Member Csordas said there are a few newsworthy issues facing the City of Novi and the Council. What does he consider to be the most important current issue and why?
Mr. Vanderpool said that he does not want to say that it is the recent judgment, which has been the most newsworthy issue. However, other issues on hand require attention. The road bond is an issue. There is no question about it or Novi would not have received a 43% vote on that issue. Traffic is clearly an issue in the Novi community and from what he has read may be the highest priority at this time. Growth management in general is an issue. Balancing growth and open space is an issue. He feels Council is doing a good job addressing those issues.
Member Csordas asked what his first goal would be should he be offered the position of City Manager.
Mr. Vanderpool said that his first objective would be to sit down with Council and establish some goals and time frames. His second assignment would be to get to know the staff. He would be out in departments, meeting with department directors and labor groups. The employees have to know who the City Manager is and that person has an open door policy and cares about their day to day affairs. Thirdly, fostering inter-governmental relations is important, especially in times of high growth. He would want to meet the school superintendent and other agencies in the area.
Member Csordas said that Noviís build-out is anticipated to be in the year 2020. What is his philosophy regarding a developing community versus a mature community?
Mr. Vanderpool said that growth cannot be stopped and Novi has vacant land, which is inevitable that the community is going to develop. The challenge is controlling the development. Regardless of his philosophy, that phenomenon will occur and has to be dealt with accordingly. He would do everything that is possible to implement the initiative setforth by Council to control growth and manage growth. It is a decision that Council has to set in terms of policy. The City Manager than will carry out that policy.
Member DeRoche asked what he would do to motivate staff.
Mr. Vanderpool said that he compliments his staff a lot. Too often supervisors forget to compliment their staff. They are the ones doing all the workday in and day out. It is important to show that he cares about his staff. He believes in staff meetings and it is important to be a good listener. Having a good working relationship is important as it helps moral and motivates staff.
Member DeRoche asked what motivate him.
Mr. Vanderpool replied that it is the challenge of the business that motivates him. What other business can he work with elected officials, fire and police officials, the business community, interact with citizens on a day to day basis, interact with the news media, meet with regional groups and be involved with State issues. The diversity of the job is what he enjoys most.
Member DeRoche asked if he was hired as the City Manager for Novi, how would he go about instilling confidence in Council and residents that he can be a positive agent of change?
Mr. Vanderpool said that it is important to define the areas that are deficient. A good Manager, after assessing what the organization is all about, should be able to determine the weakness and where change is necessary. He would fully expect to do that. Change can be invigorating. He has dealt with problem situations very effectively. He is not afraid to make personnel decisions when they have to be made. He has done that in his current position and if that is needed in Novi, he is not afraid to identify those areas and take corrective action.
Member DeRoche asked if Mr. Vanderpool read there has been a turn over on the Council and asked him to expound on that matter.
Mr. Vanderpool replied, as he understands there are three new members on Council. It is a turnover, but is it significant? It is change. Is change bad? No, change is not bad. There are many things going on in Novi and he considers Novi a stable community, although, Council has some challenging issues facing them. Noviís citizens are supportive of some of the big picture issues that are going on in the community.
Mayor Clark asked what he felt it takes to be a successful City Manager.
Mr. Vanderpool replied that a successful City Manager has to be able to effectively work with City Council and staff. The City Manager has to be able to have the energy and enthusiasm to deal with a high growth community. The Manager has to be able to take criticism and realize that there will not always be agreement on issues. The Manager has to be a facilitator, a problem solver and respectful of the Councilís role in addressing the serious issues in the community.
Mayor Clark asked what are his major, personal and professional attributes that he could bring to the job of City Manager in the City of Novi.
Mr. Vanderpool said that he considers himself a professional and is committed to the profession. He believes he has the business Savoy to deal with some of the growth issues in the community. He has an analytical ability. He has negotiated lease,
development, food and beverage, and labor agreements The Manager needs business savoy andr needs to be an ambassador for the City, not in the limelight, but make yourself accessible.
Mayor Clark asked Mr. Vanderpool if he had any closing comments?
Mr. Vanderpool said in closing that he would like to thank the Council for their consideration. He is very honored to be interviewed. There is a good fit because he has the experience, both professionally and academically. He has 13 years in the profession. The projects he has been involved with would be most advantageous to Novi. He is not a job hopper and not one looking to leave for any other reason than this is a great opportunity. He hopes that Council strongly considers him as the next City Manager of Novi.
Council took a recess at 8:45 p.m. and reconvened at 9:07
RICHARD HELWIG Ė DUBLIN, OHIO
Mr. Helwig thanked Council for the invitation to interview. He said that he will be relocating to Michigan April 1st, after completing 30 years of public service, which includes four years in the Navy, 21 years in Dayton, Ohio, the last 10 years as City Manager, 2 Ĺ years as City Manager in Elgin, Illinois, and the final three years as Assistant City Manager/Director of Development in Dublin, Ohio. Dublin looks and feels a lot of Novi. It is one of the fastest growing communities in Ohio and faced with many of the growth issues present in Novi. Dublin is next to Columbus, Ohio
Mr. Helwig said that he and his wife, since last July, decided that they want to make southeastern Michigan their home. His wife was born and raised in Farmington and lives in Birmingham. He is looking to continue his career in local government in this part of the country. Novi comes very highly recommended.
Member Csordas asked Mr. Helwig in his current position, what has he found to be his most challenging responsibility and why?
Mr. Helwig replied that he has been a City Manager for 12 years prior to coming to Dublin, Ohio. He has found focusing on development to be most interesting and challenging. Dublin is on the map because of the Jack Nicklaus Golf Course and the Memorial Tournament. I-270 goes through Dublin and has 20% of the Columbus area Class A office space and they are wrestling with manage growth. Dublin has adopted a community plan and the biggest challenge is to implement that community plan. In the three years he has been in Dublin, they had the value of building permits of $217 million dollars in 1997, $352 million dollars in 1998 and just finished $153 million dollars in 1999. To process that kind of quality that the community demands and City Council expects, to do the volume of work and build out the community much faster has been a full time challenge. He has received high marks from the community .
Member Csordas asked him to describe his leadership style and how he could improve on that style?
Mr. Helwig said that leaders focus on vision and values. They look at the environment and try to compete successfully. He is a doer and expects to hold people accountable. He has an inner toughness and an outer congeniality to build teamwork. People he has worked with would say that they feel included, valued as a colleague, as a contributor of insights and information, they know they will be held accountable for results and for action. He feels the biggest challenge he has had throughout his career has been to develop good listening skills. The certificate he is most proud of came from a neighborhood group in Elgin. They made up a special "good listener" award for because they were impressed how often he met with them and how well he listened.
Member Csordas said that Council believes that this is the best City Manager opportunity in the State and asked why he was applying for the position?
Mr. Helwig said that he has spoke with Tom Marcus, City Manager of Birmingham, who recommended the position. The last two weekends he has spent time driving around Novi and realized that in his career he has had an opportunity to visit and work in large communities. He has a good feel how metropolitan areas work and it is clearly that Novi has a great deal to be proud of and a lot more work to be done. He has always been interested in being where the action is.
Member Csordas said there are a few significant newsworthy issues facing the Council and City, and asked what he considers to be the most important issue and why?
Mr. Helwig said that as he understands, Novi is losing a long term City Manager and with that, a lot of expertise and experience, which could bring instability and change that will bring to the day to day operations of City government. From what he has gathered from afar and newspaper articles, is that there has been a turnover in Council, large judgment rendered in a lower court and a great demand on strong leadership. A communityís leadership is a combination of strong political and administrative leadership. He feels there is a sense of urgency to providing the kind of leadership that will bring the performance and results the community is expecting. He senses there are very high expectations and there is a lot the Council is shouldering to deliver as a result of the set of unfortunate results that have recently occurred in the community
Member Csordas asked what his first goal or objective would be should he be offered the position of City Manager?
Mr. Helwig said that he runs marathons, which has helped him to develop the ability to focus and not get distracted. Something that has worked for his through his career, is to spend time with the Council in whatever policy work sessions are necessary and then one on one each month to get a full grasp of Council expectations and goals. His first goal would be to listen before taking any action and grasping, defining and insuring that he knows which direction to follow and then build the organization through performance objective, accountability term and make sure everything is delivered to Council.
Member Csordas said that Noviís buildout is anticipated to be in the year 2020 and asked what his philosophy would be in a developing community versus a mature community?
Mr. Helwig said that he has worked in both types of communityís. Dublinís buildout was projected to be 2040, that will happen a lot sooner than that, and perhaps Noviís will happen too. He will never take times like this for granted. He will never take a single dollar of investment for granted, or a single employee working or living in the community for granted. He knows what it is like to manage in a declining atmosphere. When it comes to growth, he feels they can demand and get higher quality than they ever seen before. The last three years, he has negotiated quality, higher expectations, the building of roads, the infrastructure and open space dedication to the community, which are things that will last for hundreds of years. These economic times present golden opportunities that are not always here to build the kind of opportunities that the community needs to sustain themselves successfully over decades. Growth is a positive in a human being, organization and community. How you manage that growth and what you attempt to achieve has to be very well thought out. Hopefully, there is a Master Plan in Novi that indicates where Novi is going and their priorities, then go after those priorities, making sure there is an understanding of what it is that Novi has done well when a goal has been accomplished.
Ms. Gronlund-Fox asked Mr. Helwig if he were hired for the position of City Manager what does he believe would be his most challenging undertaking and why?
Mr. Helwig said that he feels Novi is building a city and putting in place procedures, traditions, and biggest challenge would be to grasp where Council has been and to get to know the people and issues then establish the trust needed to achieve that action agenda.
Ms. Gronlund-Fox said if she were to ask the people that knows him the best, both personally and professionally, to describe him in three words, what words would they use and why?
Mr. Helwig said that they would probably say that he is honorable, trustworthy and has good eye contact. Honorable has been a rudder for him and all of his actions, whether high profile personnel actions in a community like Dayton where there was a 40% black population and he had to remove a black police chief, doing those types of things in an honorable way and treating the work of local government in an honorable way. It is so easy to swipe at elected officials, administrators and anyone associated with government. He believes they are all doing honorable and important work. They are in an emergency business and he has mirrored that.
Mr. Helwig said that he is someone that can be trusted. Staff needs to come to work everyday in a trusting environment and the administrative leader has a lot to do with that. He is also an eye contact person. It is so easy for people to be busy and lose the whole human dynamic when it comes to eye contact and interaction, through which he feels a lot of trust is built.
Ms. Grondlund-Fox asked for his definition of work ethic and integrity.
Mr. Helwig said that it knows no limits and should be present every second of every day. His parents taught him to give his employer everything he can give everyday. In terms of integrity, everything a City Manager does has do be done with integrity, honesty, trueness and forthrightness. He has had to dismiss people who started to compromise in ways their custody of community assets.
Member Kramer asked if he would pick out some of his experiences that would focus directly and how it would relate to his position as a City Manager in Novi?
Mr. Helwig said that he was a business major in Bowling Green, majoring in finance and was headed to an international business career. He then decided to go on for a Masterís in public administration because he wanted to apply the business techniques he had learned to the publics business and city management became an obvious choice. His financial background is deeply routed. He started as Director of Finance in Dayton after four months of being a management analyst. Managing and assisting city councils requires a strong financial background. There is a lot to government accounting in trying to do the multi-year projections. The forward thinking is very important. In graduate school he had an opportunity to take a course at the Harvard Business School of Management of Urban Operations where case studies were from Boston and New York, the systems kind of thinking which was important in managing local government services. In terms of managing for results, he has had many courses in problem solving and managing for results.
Member Kramer asked why he moved from Dayton to the City of Elgin and why did he seek employment in Dublin?
Mr. Helwig said that he had been in Dayton nearly 21 years and felt it was time to move on. He had been City Manager for the last ten years. He left with good feelings and a good record of community accomplishment.
Regarding seeking employment in Dublin, Mr. Helwig said that the reason gets personal, however, if he is going to be working with the Council, then they are family. The reason he left is that he was married for 29 years came home one day and his wife announced that she was leaving him to be with someone on the West Coast. He spent some time thinking about what to do and decided to regroup and came back to Oxford Ohio where both his sons were junior and senior in school. This has been the biggest challenge he had and bigger than anything he had to deal with in city government. He had the opportunity to look at City Manager positions in Ohio and the Dublin opportunity and challenge came up.
Member Kramer asked what was his greatest accomplishment and why?
Mr. Helwig said that Dayton had said they were going to build US 35 W, four-lane roadway, through the poor part of town where the riots had occurredin the 1960ís. When he became City Manager in 1984, nothing had happened. That road opened before he left. The road made a complete community by providing a balance to the City. Dayton had been experiencing middle class flight because of court order school desegregation and they did not have the modern infrastructure necessary.
Mr. Helwig said another accomplishment t was a team effort. To be at a creation of a paramedic program is very gratifying.
Member Kramer asked what his approach would be in increasing outreach to the community-involving citizen in government participation.
Mr. Helwig said that is something that is near and dear to him, which comes from his experience in Dayton and grew out of the model cityís program. Dayton was one of the 20 cities in the country where that was made citywide. Dayton used General Fund dollars to support citizen participation. There were seven geographic areas, called neighborhood priority boards. They would each come up with an election plan and all neighborhood councils fed into these priority boards. He would meet with the priority board leadership once a month. They would feed their budget cycle into and did priority board need statements before they assembled any budget proposals for Council. To be involved in the priority setting for the community on a constant basis was important. He would take direction from the Novi Council as to how important this issue would be, and how much time and resources Council is willing to invest into a true citizens partnership in defining priorities and needs of the community.
Member Kramer asked how he would go about soliciting, encouraging, supporting, and creating initiative and innovation?
Mr. Helwig said that he believes in leading by example. He asks many questions. Having brainstorming sessions also works. He makes certain that anyone who comes to a meeting knows they will be asked to participate, if they have not felt compelled to during the meeting. Creativity comes from creating an atmosphere where it is okay to experiment, to fail and to try things.
Member DeRoche asked how he motivates his staff?
Mr. Helwig replied that he feels people get motivated by thinking big and feeling a part of what the Council and community is trying to accomplish. Someone who is cleaning the community recreation center would be far more motivated to do their job and have pride if they see how it fits in to the overall strategy for a high quality of life and attracting business and industry. He feels the City Manager should constantly bring people inclusively into the vision where the community is going.
Member DeRoche asked what would motivate him when he becomes City Manager.
Mr. Helwig said what will motivate him will be the set of challenges in Novi, as well as building a community,. He believes in teamwork and a competitor. Novi is positioning themselves competitively very successfully. He feels that he can contribute, based on his experience, knowledge and abilities at a time where Novi can benefit.
Mr. DeRoche asked him to tell Council about a time when his performance did not live up to his expectations and what did he learn from his action and what did he do as a result?
Mr. Helwig said there was an issue with the Elgin City Council where he felt he had communicated to the staff that they really wanted to have the City reach out to disadvantage youth through the YMCA. The YMCA was in need of infrastructure and if they determined legally that they could invest in some of that infrastructure if it was opened up to the entire community. It turned out that Council wanted to contribute to a much lower level than making it "the Community Center". He had to tell Council and staff that they blew it. They told YMCA officials that Council would be supportive of redoing the building with a much bigger price tag and they were not supportive. What that does is rededicate him to more work sessions, more listening, asking questions to make certain Council direction is clear.
Member Bononi asked him what he considers to be the critical components of customer service. How would he implement those components as City Manager of Novi?
Mr. Helwig said that in Dublin they have been coming up with check lists of what is needed from their customers in order for the City to meet their responsibilities in the correct amount of time and then insuring there is a mechanism for on going communication with citizens. A feedback mechanism is also needed in terms of customer service cards, public opinion surveys, training of employees. On every telephone where he has worked, there is a message "treat them like you would like to be treated". The employees came up with this as a way to remind them whenever they are on the telephone, it is a customer, and this is a daily opportunity to serve them.
Mr. Helwig went on to say that another customer service thing he did in Elgin was to make sure the public could speak to a human being whenever they called City Hall. They made certain that central answering point in each department had a knowledgeable person who knew how to deal with citizen requests and take messages. That is part of the human touch that can be lost in serving the public.
Mr. Helwig said that he will also go out and personally look at a customerís complaint, rather than exchanging letters or talking on the phone. He will extend himself to the customer sometimes by meeting with the citizens in the evening, go where their needs are and make it convenient for the customer.
Member Bononi what was his greatest municipal accomplishment that had positive environmental implications?
Mr. Helwig said that in Dayton they provided drinking water to 400,000 people. The source of that water was underground aquifer. There were approximately 70 buried landfills. They came up with a well field protection program that protected that unique resource. They came up with air strippers to stripe out contaminates that were already coming to some of the wells, but basically they controlled any future development and relocation of development in proximity to the well fields. He received a Management Innovation Award from ICMA for that program. He is an environmentalist and loves nature. They reclaimed a 37-acre site of the former Dayton Tire Rubber Plant that had been vandalized. They dedicated two million dollars from the General Fund and had a Town Hall meeting to determine what can be done, since the private sector had relinquished their responsibility. The building was located in the middle of a
neighborhood. They decided to tear the building down and return it to green space. He is very proud of that accomplishment.
Member Bononi asked him to define the concept of smart growth; how would he apply that concept in the City of Novi?
Mr. Helwig said that he is living that concept on a day to day basis in Dublin. It comes down to the community plan. What are the scenic roads that never will be widened? What are the setbacks that the City wants off their roadways? What is the look and feel of the community? How committed is the City to open space? Council has to think beyond the next election and decide how much land do they want to commit for future generations in the community. The greatest thing Council can do is spending as much time as they can to thinking what is it that will make the community special in the future. Smart growth does not mean any growth, but means that the City is going about it with a very high quality of standards and managing it. He has seen too many things built that have gone dormant. He understands from the Mayorís State of the City Address article, that there will be another 100 million-dollar mall coming to Novi. This is unique and special because there are many malls that are closing down. It is very important that when these features are growing in the community, that these be done with the highest standards and with as much foresight as possible. He noticed there is mixed use in the Twelve Oaks Mall; such as housing, overnight and other things of a non-traditional role when thinking of a mall.
Member Bononi asked as a City Manager, he receives repeated complaints from citizens about selective enforcement of City Ordinances. The Ordinance language is clear, what is his response?
Mr. Helwig said that the first and foremost thing he would do is enforce the law. Selective enforcement will not be tolerated.
Member Bononi asked if he were approached by a landowner that wishes the City to purchase his property. He has not been directed to seek property acquisitions. The property owner presses him to continue in this mode. What would he do?
Mr. Helwig said that he would bring the matter to the attention of City Council.
Member Lorenzo asked if he implemented or initiated any human resource or departmental policies that have either saved his cityís money or have provided greater efficiency?
Mr. Helwig said that in Dayton they went through the recession of 1980-82 and were constantly downsizing the organization, with no layoffs. They did it with advance planning and downsized 14-15% of the organization. The express purpose was to make ends meet and make certain the services would be sustained. It is important to have an organizational culture that is always looking for better ways to do things. Cities are in the business of not spending taxpayer money unless it is truly for their benefit. He is always looking for ways to reduce costs and enhance service efficiencies. In Dayton and in Elgin, they went to the one-arm waste collection trucks and provided containers for the home. Instead of having three people on the truck, they just had the driver on
the truck. They built six new fire stations in ten years and located them so they could more efficiently make their runs and serve the community better. They did this with fewer companies.
Member Lorenzo asked what he felt would be an effective policy to manage risk?
Mr. Helwig said that he believes city government should be as self-sufficient as possible. When it comes to risk management, a lot has to do with the professionals that the city relies upon to make an analysis of risk in a situation. When there are contracts, there are risks, but should try to eliminate as much risk as possible. He usually has a Risk Manager on staff and many times, they focus on insurance risk related issues. Many times, it comes in the form of special Counsel. He has had an in-house Law Director, however, in Dublin it is under contract. The City needs to assess risk in everything. He feels risk management is very important.
Member Lorenzo asked both in the public and private sector the word empowerment has been very popular over the past few years. With empowerment comes accountability. When you empower employees and an employee Ďs decision results in or contributes to a financial loss for the city, an embarrassing situation, or less than quality development project, what would he do and is there any consequence?
Mr. Helwig said that empowerment is a fancy word for trying to help people grow. He is pleasantly surprised what people will contribute if given the opportunity. Individuals are not robots; they are paid to think and contribute. He has a bias for helping people to move up in their careers within the organization. He is tough when it comes to accountability. As City Manager, he would have performance agreements with management. There are consequences when mistakes are made in the public sector, however, they are not all treated alike. If an employee does something and there is no harm done, then the personal embarrassment or lack of results may be more than enough to get that individualís attention on how to do something different in the future. He has discharged employees and filed suite, when necessary.
Member Lorenzo asked if the Mayor or a Council member shared information with him that could be relevant to a future decision by Council, would he share that information with the rest of Council, or would he expect the Mayor or Council member to do so?
Mr. Helwig said that his obligation is to work with the Council as a team. He is constantly asking staff to be on the look out for matters that need to be given to Council. If a member of Council shares some information with him that he feels is important for the entire Council, then his obligation is to make sure that the entire Council receives that information.
Member Lorenzo asked what he enjoys least about the position of City Manager?
Mr. Helwig said that he is a morning person, so it probably is the late night meetings. However, his children are grown so it is much less of an issue than it use to be. He loves all the current events and the challenges of the work, however, there have been
times in his career that he could work 24 hours a day, which is not healthy. That is the reason he took up running 20 years ago because that was something he could do anytime of the day or night to wash away the day.
Member Lorenzo asked if potentially contaminated materials were illegally dumped on City property, by City employees, how would he handle the situation and would there be any consequences?
Mr. Helwig said that there would have to be immediate reporting under Michigan Law to EPA officials. In Dayton, they developed their own in-house EPA. As far as City employees dumping contaminating materials there would be consequences. There is a public trust that has to be lived each day. He has had to fire three police officers and explain a $300,000 judgment to the community that the City had to pay because they tortured a druggy on probation and his sole rights were violated. The officers apprehended the person but how they did it had to be dealt with because there was no basis for that type of treatment.
Member Lorenzo asked if the City were an unsuccessful party in a lawsuit and the media calls him for a response and he has not yet discussed the situation with the Council, how would he respond to the media?
Mr. Helwig said that he would say he has no comment, or he has not had a chance to read the decision, digest it with staff and report to City Council.
Member Lorenzo asked if there were an allegation of sexual harassment within a department, how would he approach the situation, and if there were sufficient evidence, would there be disciplinary action taken?
Mr. Helwig replied that there would be disciplinary action taken. He dealt with one of the first cases in city government where it took over one month to deal with the case because it was so new to everyone. It was a male Manager and he was disciplined for 45 days for sexual harassment.
Member Lorenzo asked if he felt department heads should be aware of these situations happening, and if they are not, are there any consequences for the department head?
Mr. Helwig replied that training must be provided. People need to know what to look for, how to be sensitive to it, how to identify it and how to create an environment where people will report the matter, if necessary. If, for any reason, there is a failing of that individual, that is as important as anything they are responsible for within their department. Sexual harassment cannot be tolerated within the organization and a vigilante management staff needs to set that tone.
Member Crawford asked Mr. Helwig if he could give his experience in budget preparation, dealing with the news media, and with computers?
Mr. Helwig replied that based on his background in finance, budget preparation is something he has been very involved in. He emphases five year financial plans, tries to mobilize the organization to give their best thinking and to make it a true policy document. His career has been filed with decisions; downsizing organizations and emphasizing new programs. In terms of the news media, he is not as active in that area at the current time. In Dayton, it is something he has done a lot. The media was an overgrown industry. He found that it is another means to tell the story, honestly, in a timely manner and to represent the community with true professionalism and skill.
Regarding the area of human resources, local governments are people intensive organizations. The ability to attract and retain good people is of utmost importance. Communities are competing for good people. He feels the organization needs to have enlightened policies.
As far as computers, Mr. Helwig went on to say in Dayton as Finance Director and Assistant City Manager they were able to get rid of the old NCR accounting machines and go to computerized payroll personnel files. The City of Dublin has made the biggest commitment to information technology. They have an Information Technology Director. All buildings are linked to e-mail and doing things with the Geographic Information System computer that will benefit residents in terms of service.
Member Crawford asked what would his co-workers say about him?
Mr. Helwig said that he announced two weeks ago that he would be leaving at the end of March and people are saying there is big shoes to fill. His relationships have been strong and his experience has been respected. Council has been very positive about his contributions to the community.
Member Crawford asked how he feels about a residency requirement for City employees in general, in particular the City Manager?
Mr. Helwig said what he has been told, there is a State Law on residency in Michigan. However, residency was a major issue in Dayton. In Dayton the people voted, approved 60-40%, to put the residency requirement for all City employees in the City Charter. Dayton is a mature City, built out, and suffering some decline and residency was viewed as a public safety issue having police and fire living in the neighborhoods. He has heard every argument on each and would never think of not living in the community he served.
Member Crawford asked if he saw anything that would interfere with him being City Manager of Novi?
Mr. Helwig replied that there is nothing that would interfere with him being City Manager.
Mayor Clark asked with his vast experience in public administration, what would it take to be a successful City Manager?
Mr. Helwig said that a City Manager has to be thick-skinned and stay focused. There are people that will aim lower as to what the community and Council desires. Reasonable people can come together, figure out the toughest of issues, and go forward. They owe it to the community to do that. He feels it takes that determination to see things through. The Manager has to be a positive person and should be able to
sort out priorities. That person cannot be all things to all people. The Cityís strategic objectives are so critical and in this climate, most of them can be achieved.
Mayor Clark asked what he feels are his major personal and professional qualities that he possesses which would qualify him to be Noviís new City Manager?
Mr. Helwig said that he brings an experience that is filled with results and brings believability to his credentials. He is known in the City Management profession as being a high achiever. His financial background, achieving what Councils have wanted achieved and exceeding those expectations is a record of accomplishment that can be documented. He is a team person and hopes Council could function as a team in working on an agenda for the community. He is a constructive person, not a destructive person.
Mayor Clark asked if there were any closing remarks he would like to make?
Mr. Helwig said that it is a privilege to interact with the City Council, whether working or visiting with them. He admires their dedication to this task and appreciates the opportunity to be interviewed. If there is to be a match, he hopes it will be him.
There being no further business to come before the Council, the meeting was adjourned at 10:35 p.m.
Richard J. Clark, Mayor Nancy Reutter Deputy City Clerk
Transcribed by: _______________________
Mary Ann Cabadas
Date approved: February 28, 2000