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Okon: Joliet city manager search: Who wants to be a part of this process?

Joellen Cademartori of GovHR USA spoke Aug. 5 with the Joliet City Council about providing recruitment services for the city manager search.
Joellen Cademartori of GovHR USA spoke Aug. 5 with the Joliet City Council about providing recruitment services for the city manager search.

GovHR USA had enough of Joliet’s strange search for a city manager.

The professional recruitment firm, the subject of innuendo amid the City Council fight over what to do about the city manager job, pulled out. The council was to vote on a contract with GovHR on Tuesday.

“However,” according to the GovHR withdrawal letter sent Tuesday, “after appearing before the City Council on Aug. 5 and then watching last night’s City Council discussion, we are convinced that the relationship between GovHR USA and a sharply divided City Council would not be positive and could negatively impact the city manager recruitment selection process.”

At a council meeting on Monday, council member Jan Quilman criticized GovHR, saying comments by one of its executives on Aug. 5 indicated it would recruit “friends” for the Joliet job.

Also on Monday night, council member Larry Hug and interim City Manager Steve Jones got into an argument over GovHR and Jones’ potential future role as a contract employee with the city.

“Further, for the record,” continues the letter sent to Jones, “GovHR has had no formal conversations with you or the city regarding using services through GovTemps USA in 2020 for your contract.”

GovHR disputed Hug’s characterization of fees that would be paid under a Jones contract as “commission.”

“Our fee of 40% is not a commission,” the letter states, “as it includes several expenses, such as employer taxes, unemployment insurance, workers compensation, liability insurance, payroll processing and administrative overhead.”

GovHR had become part of the city manager controversy.

There has been a council fight over who should be city manager. There has been a fight over who should be interim city manager. And, a fight was developing over the recruitment firm to be used to look for a city manager.

The city has decided to conduct the city manager search through its own staff without any outside firm involved, which may be just as well. Letting outsiders get involved in the Joliet search for a city manager has been a key theme in the controversy. Letting an outsider apply for the job has been an issue.

Part of the case for promoting City Attorney Martin Shanahan to the job without opening it up to applicants was that outsiders become a problem.

Meanwhile, Shanahan, removed from the interim city manager position in June by the council majority that wants a candidate search, has applied for a city manager job in Gainesville, Florida. He is among 55 candidates for the job, according to The Gainesville Sun.

Shanahan is expected to apply for the Joliet job, and council members who voted to remove him said they did so to open up the process but would still consider him for the job.

But ...

Will Shanahan get an interview in Florida?

Would he still be available if the city council decides they want him for the job in Joliet?

Could Florida’s Gainesville become Joliet’s loss?

• Bob Okon is a longtime Herald-News reporter. He can be reached at 815-280-4121 or

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