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Things that make you go “Huh?” City hires first, negotiates second?

Sarasota City Commissioners hire a new City Clerk and THEN begin salary and benefits contract negotiations? That’s what all the news reports have mentioned, as an almost irrelevant aside, in the print papers ever since Pamela Nadalini was hired.

Does that process sound backward to anyone else but me?

In their search for a new City Clerk, this language was included in the posting on the City’s website: “Salary is negotiable. Qualified candidates should have demonstrated experience that would justify a six-figure income.” Okay, well, at least we know that the salary to be negotiated is $100,000-plus. And, yes, I know how government works — with their pay scale ranges and all that … but still, something’s on the table, or else they wouldn’t be negotiating any contract at all.

I’ve hired (and fired) and been hired (never fired) more times than I can count, and not once did salary negotiation begin AFTER after hiring someone. After making an initial offer, sure … but after hiring someone and splashing the news all around town? Exactly how much leverage do they expect to have in their negotiations? Maybe none at all?


The new city clerk, and I wish her well and offer congrats, and yes, I’m glad to see a woman, and a black woman, at that level in local government (though I’ll be glad for the day when/if we ever can just laud someone for their experience and not for their being the “first” of some group to break the erstwhile all-white/all-male bastions of higher up government positions). But here’s my advice to Nadalini: she should hold the City up for every dime on and even off the table. She’s got ’em on the ropes … they’ve got zero leverage — what are they going to do … fire her? — especially after all the “first woman/first black” write-ups they’ve been getting from the press? I’d like to know what precisely is on the table for negotiation? A range of $10,000? Five weeks of paid vacation instead of three? A government auto? I don’t know — I wish the local reporting covered that, and I just haven’t had time to investigate it myself. If anyone knows — feel free to add some input in the comment section of this blog.

I’m sure the city would say this is just business as usual, everybody does it, yada, yada, yada. Color me stupid if you want, but how about doing business unusually?… by that I mean, how about doing business intelligently and with forethought. Even if hiring first, negotiating second, is de rigueur among government types … why not break the mold and think for ourselves as city leaders? The formula should be simple: search, interview, determine the best candidate, express an initial interest in hiring subject to salary and benefits discussion, if the candidate is interested too, then you move on to negotiate salary and benefits, and, then, if the negotiations end up with the candidate you want at the price you can afford, you then offer the job, they accept or don’t accept, and you hire or don’t hire.

Look, I know this is a very small matter in a big world of big matters. But it’s stuff like this — multiplied times a gazillion — that creates inefficiencies, irrelevant time-wasters, and inflated costs in our government.
I know — I’m just a simple taxpayer, so what do I know? — but in my book: negotiate first; hire second.

Posted on March 5th, 2010Comments RSS Feed
9 Responses to Things that make you go “Huh?” City hires first, negotiates second?
  1. To me this is not that unusual ,as she has worked 25 years for the County and salary to be negotiated for someone who has been there that long is fairly common..At least it was in Education.Also I am quite sure the paper does not know all the hidden details of the salary negotiations and it was mere specualtion what was written .Your way of hiring and the way it should be but aagin this is politics as usual and no surprise to me whatsoever. I am also quite sure she had the job before the interviews took place which is common … sadly.It’s a shame but I wish her well.

  2. John W. Perkins
    March 5, 2010 at 2:13 pm

    I’ll say it again.. It’s a shame that politics is no longer a privilege, but a profession.

  3. Well said John!

  4. John, you are so correct, my friend.

  5. Get Real!!!!
    How many steaks at Publix can you purchase with privilege.
    It’s a job!
    It has some value
    albeit low
    some value

  6. Say, Neg nate, how much of tax-payers dollars, did it cost to bring the Orioles here? – Esp. when it was unanimously voted against bring a basebal team here by the residents? Now, truly, c’mon, how much?

  7. I agree with Nate , Mr. Hawk
    Noone truly thinks that concretely

  8. Negative Nate
    March 7, 2010 at 8:27 pm

    Thanks Scott!
    I’m glad at least someone has some common sense here!
    I think we probably would agree on most issues.

  9. Negative Nate, R U Blue Hate Hostage in disguise???Only kidding you do make some good points!


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