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6 Months After Agreeing to Replace City Manager, Palm Coast Council Will Take Next 5 to Find Search Firm

| January 9, 2018

City Manager Jim Landon, left, has controlled the timetable and the process for the hiring of his replacement. (© FlaglerLive)

City Manager Jim Landon, left, has controlled the timetable and the process for the hiring of his replacement. (© FlaglerLive)

Six months after deciding to hire a new city manager to replace Jim Landon, the Palm Coast City Council today began talking about how to hire a search firm—a process that will take the next five months, usually the time it takes for most local governments to find a new executive from start to finish. In essence, it will have taken the council a full year to put out a want ad for a new manager, and it may be two years before it hires a new one.

It took one meeting for the Flagler County School board last year to decide on a search method for a new superintendent as the board hired a team of state school board association consultants to advise and coordinate the search. It took the board barely four months to find and sign James Tager. It had taken the 2007 Palm Coast City Council five months, from start to finish, to find Landon.

And while today’s workshop on finding a search firm was dubbed as a chance for the council members to discuss what they want in a search firm, after similar one-on-one discussions with the administration, the discussion was led at first by City Attorney Bill Reischmann, then by Landon himself, who at one point told council members point blank that they didn’t know how to hire a manager, since they hadn’t been through the process.

“Obviously this is your decision,” City Attorney Bill Reischmann told the council members. “You’re in control of this process all the way through.”

But the council has not appeared in control from the day it told Landon, and itself, that it was seeking to replace him. Very unusually for local governments, and against the stated wishes of wishes council members, at least in the earliest stages of the discussion about replacing their top executive, Landon has not only sat at the table in every discussion regarding his successor, but has controlled the process, the calendar and, to a large extent, the discussions.

Today, he went as far as giving his approval to the way the council was approaching the issue: “I have done this a number of times, and I like what I’m hearing, I think you’re right on target,” Landon said at one point, sounding as if he were the recruiter. It’s not clear what he meant by having “done this a number of times,” as he’s never hired a city manager, and has himself been hired as a manager only twice before Palm Coast hired him 10 years ago (he was hired by an Oregon town about the size of Bunnell, then by a town of 35,000 in Texas after his years as a planner).

What steps have been taken so far in the “search” have been coordinated largely by Landon and his staff: he intends to stay on the job until August 2019, when he plans to retire. (He’s reportedly building a home in Hidden Lakes, the subdivision off Old Kings Road.) Despite its misgivings with him, the council is accommodating Landon’s schedule by also accommodating his approach on finding a new manager—and his deliberately slow pace in going through the motions of finding a search firm.

It’ll be two more weeks before the council sees a draft request for proposals (for search firms), and mid-February before the RFP is published. It’ll be April before the council short-lists a set of search firms, mid-April when it ranks those firms, and May 1 when it plans to sign with a firm. Only then will that firm begin the process all over again, soliciting input from council members and beginning the search in earnest. That next timeline has not yet been revealed. But it will coincide with the election season, when two seats on the council are up. Council member Heidi Shipley said she was not running again, creating an open seat. (She was absent today.) Council member Steven Nobile, who has been critical of the hiring process, has not formally announced that he would run again, and has on occasion been of two minds about it. He twice tried to have Landon fired and to settle on a more rapid hiring process.

Reischmann’s presentation today summed up what had been done until now in the search for a searcher. His bullet points added up to common-sense summaries of what all local governments consider when hiring, including such obvious points as collaboration between the recruiter and the council on developing “ideal qualifications,” nationwide recruitment, and so on. The presentation included a sort of signature from Landon: that while the search firm would develop a “realistic timeline” with the council on finding the replacement, Landon would be in place “no later than August 2019.”

The council contributed a few additional suggestions, its running theme being the prevention of what its members called “bookends,” that is, limitations on the broadness of the search, and the type of candidate they’ll be looking for. But absence of bookends also left the process ahead more vague than defined.

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37 Responses for “6 Months After Agreeing to Replace City Manager, Palm Coast Council Will Take Next 5 to Find Search Firm”

  1. Resident says:

    May I please ask why we even have a City Counsel if all of the decisions are being made by the same person that needs to go ….. we need to clean house and vote in some members who have Palm Coast’s best interest in mind!

  2. Dean S Carpenter says:

    This stinks.

  3. John Brady says:

    The City Council under the direction of maestro Landon will do everything possible to keep the citizens out of this process. This will be no different than the so called “Charter Review”
    Did any one check with the Florida League of Cities for possible groups to conduct the search?

    The School District model would be a good model to follow.

  4. Just the truth says:

    Us PC taxpayers want new people on the committee,please do not let Mayor Netts come back, enough was enough with hi.

    And, why do you need to hire a company to help you find a new city manager, another waste of taxpayers money,

    I add in several major newspapers will do it. STOP WASTING MONEY.

  5. Just the truth says:

    It amazes me that the city committee members can’t think for themselves and hire someone without paying an outside firm. Get rid of them if they can’t make decisions on their own. STOP wasting our money.

  6. Gkimp says:

    Gkimp llc will take a 6 figure contract and find you an excellent candidate.

  7. Shazam! says:

    Why is it that every picture I see of the council meetings looks like they are either wrapping up a lunch or a party?

  8. Really says:

    The same person who is allegedly being replaced is controlling the search process for his replacement thru a recruiter, search firm. Lol So probably not going to be a real fast process ehh Mr. Landon wink wink. What do you need to hire a search firm for. The blatant audacity of you people sitting on that Council is beyond any other small town Behind the scenes, under handed, in your face, corrupt , pet project do nothings I have ever even heard about never mind watching it happen and unfold locally. If you told someone whats gone on in last 5 years they wouldnt believe it. Cant make this sh__t up smh unbelievable.

  9. tulip says:

    Having a company or “head hunters” as they are sometimes called, is a good thing because these people do it professionally, know where to place ads and places to look and where the possibilities are, may already no of qualified people, weed through a lot of the applicants who obviously aren’t qualified and then finally turn over a list of qualified people to the city council who will then screen and interview them and whittle down the applicants to the final choice. That should be interesting to see the council handle that.

    It should not take 5 months to research out firms, as Mayor Holland and her mentor Mr Netts know how to obtain a firm to do the search but seem to be holding back for some reason.

    I remember years back we had a horrible city manager and it only took about 3 months to replace him. This city council has no backbone and there appears to be a “clique” of sorts amongst some of the members. The only one on it with any kind of substantial knowledge about government is Mayor Holland and she has been failing in her duties. She was a better county commissioner and I am disappointed. JMO

  10. Lou says:

    Throwing “The bums out” have not worked before because the “bums” were replaced by other bums.
    The problem is not with our elected bums but with the process which bums we can cast our vote for.

    The big question is how to reform our electoral system?

  11. Daphne says:

    Do some research on successful city managers in the region and recruit 3-6 of them. It’s not hard to find successful city managers with excellent track records. Add the money you’d spend on a search from to the hired candidate’s salary. Not rocket science! Why pay a firm?! Such a waste of hard earned taxpayer money!

  12. Fernando Melendez says:

    As a new PC resident fresh from NY, and very much active in New York politics, most recently NYC mayoral elections against Mayor Bill deBlasio.. I can tell you this, a community develops its perception of its council and its government based on the image that is projected. Perception becomes the reality for that community. Often the council will develop its own self-image based upon community perception. I can tell you what I perceive so far, No contents, No process and No effective style. A too relaxed, friendly and peaceful council, which is exactly what the City Attorney Bill Reischmann, and Jim Landon continue to exploit.

    Just saying that Changes in the approach to making decisions, definitely alterations in the process, and the development of a style that produces a positive outcome (like fire them both Now) and image can change the attitude of the community towards its government, its policies and its decision-makers.

    No disrespect intended.

  13. Jack Howell says:

    I think that most of the citizens who reside in Palm Coast are sick and tired of the Landon dynasty. It is time for fresh blood and candidates for city council who will not fold under Landon’s bullying. I am seriously thinking about running for the seat Mrs. Shipley will leave. I am my own person and want Landon and Reischmann to know that they can’t intimidate me to do their will. I will go eye to eye and head to head with them! I want to represent the citizens of the district and I mean that. I’m tired of seeing the city spend money foolishly like some drunken sailor in Hong Kong. I’m not interested in a salary as I will donate all of it to charity. I am a fighter for what is the right thing for the people of our city. I am blunt and to the point. I tell you how it really is and don’t believe in half truths. I will not accept any donations for my campaign so nobody owns me. If I run, what you see is what you get. It’s time for change. However, I realize that some of our town residents are afraid of anything new and want to continue with the same old, same old. Time will tell.

  14. one voice says:

    Take note Palm Coast and vote these idiots, who want to waste our time and money, out of office. We need people involved in our government who will do the right thing by us the tax payers. If you are not outraged you are part of the problem.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Is the current mayor and council members not competent enough to post the position nationwide and accept and interview applicants? Come on people, if you can’t do the job resign and let some one who can in there. This place is so dysfunctional and unprofessional. You people waste tax dollars like you are playing with Monopoly money. This isn’t a game people! Get rid of Landon now and move on. This is a city of about 80,000 residents–it doesn’t take a rocket scientist. Truthfully the Mayor and Council members alone should be running the city instead of sitting on their hands, chewing their gum, playing with their hair and collecting a pay check for doing a little of nothing. Landon knows he can and has led all the council members around by the nose and he has all of you right where he wants you.

  16. just me says:

    ” In essence, it will have taken the council a full year to put out a want ad for a new manager, and it may be two years before it hires a new one.” SO im “sure that means we the tax payers are going to SAVE two years of Landons well OVERPAID salary????

  17. John Yankovich says:

    I’m in agreement with all of the above. It appears the council is a prime example of the tail wagging the dog! Get rid of Landon! If he suddenly was unable to work would the city collapse. Life goes on and a temp would be found. We need common sense councilman not pseudo intellectuals we now have. These people are more concerned on how they look not on the hard decisions they shud be making!

  18. Just the truth says:

    PC City Officials should be ashamed of themselves that they aren’t qualified to hire a new City Manager.
    Landon needs to go and go now, enough is enough.

  19. Thomas says:

    Our councilmen are so lazy

  20. Fernando Melendez says:

    I agree with Jack Howell, it’s come to a point where a tough stand has to be taken against these, what I would call opportunist, and shame on the city council for allowing. I’ll be definitely supporting such a change. 👀

  21. palmcoastpioneers says:

    @ Jack Howell

    You say you are considering Palm Coasts’ City Council . If you do may I suggest you review the following to better prepare for this adventure.

    1. A re-creation of Levitt & I.T.T.’s required official ‘ Guided Tour ‘ for prospective buyers:

    2. ‘ An Approach to a New City: Palm Coast ‘ by the Father of Palm Coast Dr. J. Norman Young c 1772 and distributed in advertising promotions on three Continents of the World: You can either google ‘ The Palm Coast Project ‘ and Boston College digital Law Review or click on this URL:

    3. The United States of Americas’ Federal Trade Commissions ‘ Consent Agreement ‘ for The Palm Coast Project: &

    4. Our little rag tag Levitt & I.T.T. Showcase Golf Course Neighborhoods ‘ achievements and successes:

    5. Palm Coasts’ Milestones:

    6. Palm Coasts Design and Engineering for protection for a 100 Year Flood:

    7. Palm Coasts’ Environmental Design and Engineering by famous James Ormsbee Simonds:

    8. Recreation of Levitt & I.T.T. ‘ Santa Rosa ‘ Model offered in an ‘ African Safari ‘ Motif:

    9. We communicate with ‘ The Smithsonian ‘ and have been sending ‘ The Smithsonian ‘ information they requested for the Levitt and I.T.T. Palm Coast Collection now housed there.
    Sent: Wednesday, March 23, 2016 10:28 AM
    Subject: RE: Levittown – ( Levitts’ & I.T.T.’s The Palm Coast Project )

    Hi George,

    The materials are at the Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of American History, Division of Home and Community Life, Room 4127.


    William H. Yeingst

    Chair, Division of Home and Community Life

    National Museum of American History

    MRC 615, P.O. Box 37012

    Washington, D.C. 20013-7012

    10. ‘ Garfield ‘ – PAWS, Inc, owners of ‘ Garfield ‘ prepared a ‘ Garfields’ bicycle Tour of Palm Coast’. The forwarded the original to ‘ The Smithsonian ‘ and a cc to me which I’m Steward of it.

    I hope this information is both helpful and informative to you should you choose to run for City Council.

    It is also hoped that the newer arrivals to Palm Coast, such as Fernando Melendez above , find this informative and provides a ‘sense of place ‘ for he and others.

    Thank you very much.

  22. Jack Howell says:

    Thanks, Fernando. If my Marine Corps career as a Colonel of Marines scares people, so be it. I fear no one especially when they have our citizens on a ride to nowhere!

  23. Anonymous says:

    Jack Howell-sounds like what Kim Weeks did and look what it got her so far.

  24. Whatever says:

    Jack Howell,,,,,,you have my vote!!!

  25. smarterthanmost says:

    The clown show continues…

  26. Bill Gordon says:

    Jack Howell you have my VOTE.

  27. MRC says:

    I honestly am disgusted and outraged by our city “government” if you can call it that! They act like an inept bunch of buffoons who have no clue how to restructure in order to prevent one tyrant from controlling everything. I plan on trying to set up meetings with the mayor and my rep on the city council to suggest feasible plans for restructuring the whole shooting match. It will probably fall on deaf ears, but at least this citizen isn’t going to just complain and nothing else. I would love to meet with a group of like minded people to show the city we mean business. Anyone willing to join with me?

  28. Fernando Melendez says:

    Thank you for your service Jack Howell and welcome, to to palmcoastpioneers thanks for the information.

  29. Jack Howell says:

    Smartone, if the clown comment is meant for me, then the jokes on you. If I run for office as a councilman, you can be sure that I’m no clown! I’m not cut from the mold of politicians and I did not crawl out from beneath a rock. My metal has been tested in the field of combat. I kiss nobody’s ring or butt. However, I will go head to head and eye to eye with anybody who attempts to intimidate or bully me! Mr. Landon and Mr. Reischmann need to go sooner, not latter.

  30. Jack Howell says:

    @ PalmcoastPioneers: Thanks for the input. I’ve been a resident of Palm Coast since 1991 and am aware of what ITT had in mind. Always good to review.

  31. palmcoastpioneers says:

    @ Fernando Melandez –
    Brigadeer General Jose Hernandez had three Plantations here. One was Bella Vista Plantation now known as Washington Oaks State Park, the other was Mala Compra Plantation, the third was St. Josephs Plantation. Bella Vista is recognized and so is Mala Compra recognized, however, embarassingly so, there is no recognition or Historic MARKER for St. Josephs Plantation. ( at / around Florida Park Drive and Palm Coast Parkway intersection area ).
    The State of Florida Historic Preservation Officer has told us that Historic Recognition would most probably be approved by the States Historic Council.
    I share this with you because perhaps you may want to work on that to correct this long term embarassment for the City of Palm Coast.
    If not, that is o.k.
    Welcome to this area.
    @Jack Howell…if you are successfully elected, would you please try to give me/ us back the public pledged Amenities promised us?
    If nothing else can we please have returned Palm Coasts’ first public Neighborhood Park at Cooper Lane and Casper intersection. I hope you understand; Palm Coasts’ first fourth generation have to now play in the streets since the public park was / is ‘…lost, sold, and transformed…’ and is being planned for private condos.
    It is so very sad that so much of the Amenities, later becoming Federally ORDERED Redress now only exist in my memories.
    Thank you very much.

  32. palmcoastpioneers says:

    @ Fernando Melendez

    Wooly Mammoths, Saber tooth, Mastadons Site – perhaps this Site on Palm Coasts Community Lands, known as Bon Terre, a.k.a FL 0005; an ancient archaeological and palentological Site would be something you or your friends may also be interested in recognizing and pursuing. If not, thats o.k.

  33. Jack Howell says:

    @palmcoastpioneers… I agree that there should be recognization of General Hernandez also agree with the return of the Neighborhood Park. Keep in mind that if I say I’m going to do something, I do it. My word is my bond. That said, our city council, with the exception of two members, are being led/influenced by outside sources so it becomes a three-two vote. These three are in lock-step so to be an effective council member and get the agenda of the people to be heard and passed we citizens need a sweeping change. While I am a kickass and take names kind of guy, I realize, should I run and be elected, what I’m dealing with. So, we all have to work on the outside forces…the silent majority… to make change to our current council. I have had a stomach full of this nonsense.

  34. Fernando Melendez says:

    My response to you Mr Jack Howell is that Ultimately, our laws should reflect our values.” And that of the community. Count me in! Contact info fmelendez177@gmail

  35. palmcoastpioneers says:

    Perhaps you may want to network with Dr. Mery Gloria Guterriez-Gable. She is Steward of Levitts & I.T.T. ‘ The DeBary Model ‘ located on Casper Drive. Her Uncle was a former President of Peru.
    I spoke with her today and she told me she is working on a MAP indicating Palm Coasts’ very rich Heritage and History. If successful this would help give the populace of Palm Coast a ‘ sense of Place ‘ – She and I and our little rag-tag Levitt & I.,T.T. Showcase Golf Course Neighborhood feel strongly that the Populace of Palm Coast deserves this.
    We’re trying to acquire what most cities and towns atypically have.
    We can hope.

  36. Jack Howell says:

    @Fernando Melendez Check your email as I could not contact you. Try contacting me at

  37. Dan Potter says:

    Before considering any location firm the city council must decide what they want in a manager such as professional background. An individual with a strong civil engineering degree and years of service working with the design and construction of infrastructure is always a good candidate. That person will have the ability to evaluate bids on construction projects and be able to dialogue with the submitters. Jim Landon never had that ability.
    Since most of the capital debt of Palm Coast is a result of infrastructure cost (>$200M) the right person could save our local government many times their yearly salary. Surely, they must possess other credentials such as superb communication skills and leadership abilities but it all centers around do they have the knowledge and ability to get the job done. He must be as inclined as the county administrator Craig Coffey which does a great job.

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