August 30, 2012GROSSE POINTE SHORES — Although some Grosse Pointe Shores residents would rather live in Macomb County, many are as happy as bulls in Texas about having Mark Wollenweber as city manager.
"The reputation of professionalism he brings to the community is second to none," said resident Raymond Rahi.
"I can't tell you how many people have told me you've got the right guy," said Mayor Ted Kedzierski about elevating Wollenweber this month from interim to permanent city manager.
By "permanent," the city offered Wollenweber three, one-year contracts with straight pay, sick days and vacation days to be determined.
He makes the equivalent of $80,000 under his interim contract.
Terms parallel those of three other Shores administrators contracted back from retirement.
The arrangements help save the city $81,000 this year in administrative costs, according to Kedzierski.
Seventeen people applied for manager, a role Wollenweber held under short-term contract since late March.
"I've enjoyed working here," Wollenweber said. "People in the community are wonderful. The staff goes out of its way. I've appreciated their support and help in getting things done."
Wollenweber's employment history includes former city administrator of Grosse Pointe Woods and retired manager of St. Clair Shores.
"We needed somebody with experience who did not need to learn the ropes," Kedzierski said.
Wollenweber impressed the council during his interim tenure.
"On the finance committee, I've work hand-in-glove with him," said Councilman Robert Gessell. "He has facilitated a lot of things to get that budget balanced and three years of budgets in line. I strongly support Mr. Wollenweber."
"We had four months to see how (he) relates to people," Kedzierski said. "There is concern about morale. A couple people came up to me and said, thank God our interim manager is in place because they were prepared to leave us."
Wollenweber won the job at a trot.
A top rival pulled out late in the selection process knowing Wollenweber was in the field.
"I would not have submitted my application had I known he was a candidate," wrote Jeffrey Bremmer, one of three applicants out of 17 making it to the penultimate cut, in a withdrawal letter.
Councilman Dan Schulte criticized the selection process.
Although Schulte served on the three-member manager search committee with Bisballe and Councilman Robert Barrette, he disagreed with the way Wollenweber was chosen.
Schulte supported both Wollenweber's hiring and Bremmer's claim of not knowing Wollenweber was in the mix.
Schulte also said candidates should have been recruited and culled by a professional search firm.
Bisballe was first to disagree.
"You read a letter from somebody (Bremmer) saying they were not aware Mr. Wollenweber was a candidate," Bisballe said to Schulte. "In fact, that candidate's wife dropped his application off to Mr. Wollenweber and had a conversation. She was told he was applying for the job because they're acquaintances. He (Bremmer) was disingenuous when he says he doesn't know."
"That I didn't know," Schulte said.
"No. 2, you wanted to put the (job) application on Craig's List," Bisballe said.
"So?" Schulte said.
"Isn't that a far cry from a professional (search firm)?" Bisballe said.
He added, "We sit here tonight ready to move forward and make a decision."
"We all agreed that everything was going smoothly," said Councilman Robert Barrette regarding the search committee. "Then, things changed. We made the right selection. I move we move forward."
"The process wasn't perfect, but the important thing is getting the right man for the job. We have that," said Councilman Dr. Alex Ajlouni.
"We could sit here all day and nitpick what we've done wrong. Not everything's been perfect."