At the March 2 City Council meeting the mayor’s regime accepted the resignation of the Chief Operating Officer (“COO”) and authorized human resources to begin the hiring process. Come July there may well be a new mayor and city council. The hiring of a COO during the last throes of this mayor’s regime without the input of the likely incoming mayor and council would be short-sighted.
There are a few things to consider when hiring anyone that has the title “Chief,” including COO, Chief Financial Officer, Fire Chief, or Chief of Police. A professional search service should be used to effectively recruit and screen candidates. These are important positions and the screening process should be rigorous so that any claimed degrees/certifications and experience are validated. Ideally those degrees or certifications should be obtained from respected institutions and not diploma mills or institutions that allow credit earned based on “life experiences.”
The mayor’s regime has historically performed poorly in the hiring of city leaders. Morale in the Police force, the Fire Department, and the other City employees appears to be very low based on the rate of resignations and hiring. The search for a new COO is an opportunity to do things the right way. Mississippi has only one city, Southlake, that has a certified city manager. While certifications do not always translate to competence, certifications do indicate someone that is willing to put forth effort to achieve.
Will Sanders, Columbus
Editor’s note: The letter writer is not the Will Sanders who is director of the Lowndes County Port Authority.