Five of the nine pictures illustrating the nine-page brochure announcing an opening for a city manager in Flagler Beach feature the city’s pier, which is also mentioned in the opening paragraph and four more times in subsequent text. None of the pictures show the severed eastern end of the pier, nor does the brochure mention that it’s severely damaged, or closed.
But it does refer obliquely to “the replacement of the pier” as among “many projects in process to address damage from previous storms.” The brochure does not say when the pier will be built, or that the next city manager–should he or she survive until then–will not likely walk on it until 2026. (See the full brochure at the foot of the article.)
It doesn’t appear that the brochure has been fact-checked or written with much depth beyond Trip-Advisor-type web scans and perhaps outdated news articles.
In a paragraph on the local arts scene, there’s mention of the Flagler County Art League and the Salvo Art project, neither of which effectively exists anymore, but no mention of the county’s new cultural arts council or the Palm Coast Arts Foundation. (At least there’s no mention of the city’s July 4 fireworks, either, as those displays have been hanging fire since Covid.)
A paragraph on “Flagler Beaches,” with both words capitalized–sloppily suggesting that the beaches are in Flagler Beach itself–refers to campers on State Road A1A permitted “at certain locations to pitch their tents directly on the sand or park their RVs overnight.” In fact, no such place exists “on the sand.” Flagler County’s 18 miles of beach are vehicle-free. (There are camp sites off the sands at Gamble Rogers State Recreation Area and in Beverley Beach).
“For those who like to shop, the six-block area in downtown Flagler Beach along Central Avenue should not be missed,” the brochure states. “Its
charming, independently owned specialty stores greatly add to the overall ambiance.” It isn’t clear why the equally charming, independent shops on A1A or State Road 100 could have been missed by the scribe. A paragraph on the “principal employers” in the county names government agencies, Publix and Boston Whaler, but not the single-largest private employer (and growing): AdventHealth.
“I was not overly impressed,” Commissioner Rick Belhumeur said of the brochure after gleaning just a couple of pages this afternoon. The city issued it to commissioners around 4 p.m., and was obtained by FlaglerLive through a record request around the same time. It had not been posted at the city’s website in advance of Wednesday’s city commission workshop, but was expected to be posted at some point. Commission Chairman Eric Cooley and Commissioner Scott Spradley said they had not had time to review it when asked for their impressions.
The brochure does outline some of the list of challenges ahead, including “the complex problems associated with climate change and intracoastal flooding,” repairs from storms and hurricanes, including “seawall improvements, and sand replenishment” (though again, those are not city projects), the new 100-bed hotel rising downtown, and recent communication problems between the city, residents and businesses.
“The ideal candidate,” the brochure states, “must be outgoing, confident but humble, mature, and an experienced professional. The candidate must
be a person with an impeccable reputation: a person of integrity who is honest and embraces high ethical standards in his/her public and
private life. The individual sets the example for the entire organization and should expect all employees to abide by the same high ethical
and professional standards.”
The brochure was prepared by Colin Baenziger and Associates, the Daytona Beach recruiting firm the city commission hired last month to lead the search for a new city manager after the commission fired William Whitson in February. It was prepared without public input. Commissioners gave their input only in one-on-one, closed-door interviews with the recruiter.
Interim City Manager Mike Abels last week told the commissioners that they would receive the brochure this week, and it would be posted as a want-ad for the next manager, by the recruiting firm, without formal commission approval. Commission Chairman Eric Cooley balked at that approach, saying the document had to be discussed and formally adopted before it is issued for the search. (See: “Flagler Beach, With Unusually Limited Transparency, Is on a Schedule to Hire Next City Manager By Mid-July.”)
Abels himself does not have intimate knowledge of Flagler Beach. He led DeLand as city manager for many years, where he is now retired. He agreed to serve as interim in Flagler Beach, with a drop-dead deadline now set for the end of July or the first week of August. That deadline appears to be driving the speed of the recruitment process, possibly at the expense of a more deliberate, detailed and open process.
So the brochure is not necessarily in final form. For one, the salary range still has to be filled in. There is no explanation about Whitson’s departure, just one line saying he worked under two years. It does include this assurance to candidates: “We do not anticipate any internal candidates,” a reflection either of the city’s thin bench or of its directors’ leeriness to put themselves in the line of fire.
The city commission, meeting in a day-long workshop on Wednesday, will discuss the brochure, possibly amending it, and will adopt it at a special meeting of the commission scheduled for just that purpose on May 4 at 5 p.m. The public will be given an opportunity to weigh in on both occasions.
The profile is sticking to the interim city manager’s original plan: the job window will close at the end of May. Applicants will be screened between May 31 and June 21, and finalists selected on June 28. The brochure does not explain that process: it does not tell candidates who will do the screening, nor who will select the finalists. As matters stand now, the recruiting firm will be screening the candidates, reducing the applicants to a shortlist that will be forwarded to commissioners, who will then select candidates to interview. But some of the commissioners are expected to examine all applicants’ resumes, which are public record.
Flagler Beach_CM_Recruitment Brochure (1)