Mayoral chief of staff Janet Piraino has distributed a detailed email to various city boards and committees strongly defending the hiring of Bill Clingan as the city's new economic and community development director.
"This was a serious, expensive and aggressive recruitment effort," Piraino wrote. "Any suggestions that we skewed the recruitment effort toward a particular audience or an individual candidate is absolutely not true."
Piraino was the sole member of five-person interview committee to rank Clingan as the best of the three certified finalists. The other four members all ranked a Racine-based economic development specialist as the strongest candidate.
Mayor Dave Cieslewicz's selection of Clingan, who is a former Madison school board member, a liberal political activist and a high-ranking manager in the state Department of Workforce Development, prompted two prominent members of the city's Economic Development Commission to resign in protest.
Three local business groups, including the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce, have also objected to Clingan's selection, saying he lacks the necessary experience in economic development.
But Piraino, in her message, made it clear that the mayor had something else in mind -- hiring "a strong manager was the mayor's top priority."
Piraino also revealed Cieslewicz was unaware of the committee's ranking of the three finalists. "After telling me of his intent to hire Mr. Clingan, I told him how each panelist ranked the candidates and why," she explained.
Here is Piraino's memo, which was distributed to members of the Economic Development Commission, Community Services Commission, Community Development Block Grant Commission, Plan Commission, Senior Center Board, Community Development Authority, Early Childhood Care and Education Board, and the Senior Citizens Advisory Committee.
Since the process for hiring Bill Clingan as the new Economic and Community Development Director has been the subject of much discussion and misunderstanding of late, I would like to lay out the details of the process.
What is notable about this process is that the Mayor went far beyond normal parameters in terms of seeking input into the position description, mission statement, recruitment and hiring process. Here are the steps in the process:
1. Development of position description and mission statement for the new division
The Mayor created an advisory group to create the position description for the director and a mission statement for the new division. The group also advised the Mayor on places to advertise the position and on questions to use for both the written and oral screenings. The group included:
Rafael Carbonell -- Regional Economic Development Entity
Marianne Morten -- Common Wealth Development
Then-Alder Judy Olson
George Austin, former director of the City's Department of Planning and Development, also affiliated with Overture and the UW-Madison
Tom Moen -- Director of the E. Madison Community Center
Jerry Sanders -- Chair of the Senior Center Board
2. Recruitment for the position
I sent out several emails to interested stakeholders, including representatives from the business community such as Mark Bugher, Jennifer Alexander and Rafael Carbonell, asking for assistance in identifying locations to advertise the position and in forwarding the job announcement to individuals they believed would be qualified for and interested in the position. I even decided to delay the deadline for applications after finding out that we failed to place ads in the International Economic Development Council and two other key planning publications. We advertised the position in 23 publications and web sites, and spent $3,180 in advertising costs. I personally called three people from the development community and one from the business community to encourage them to apply. I did not call Mr. Clingan to encourage him to apply, not because I doubted his qualifications, but simply because, like the other candidates who applied, I didn't think of him. This was a serious, expensive and aggressive recruitment effort. Any suggestions that we skewed the recruitment effort toward a particular audience or an individual candidate is absolutely not true.
3. First screening process: minimum qualifications
Thirteen applicants applied for the position by the deadline. HR staff screen the applications to ensure each candidate meets the minimum qualifications set forth in the position description. No one, including the Mayor, has any input into this part of the process. All 13 of the applicants were deemed by HR to meet the minimum qualifications.
4. Second screening process: achievement history questionnaire
An achievement history questionnaire was sent to the 13 qualified candidates. Both staff and members of the advisory group helped write and select the questions used in the questionnaire. The responses were sent to a panel that ranked the candidates based on the answers to the questionnaire. The panel consisted of:
Frank Staniszewski of Madison Development Corp
Rodney Tapp of Meridian
Marianne Morton of Common Wealth Development
Brad Murphy, City Planning Director
Bruce Newton, former staff of the city's Office of Community Services
The average scores were calculated. Mr. Clingan came in second in the rankings. The business representative on the screening panel ranked him first. The candidate ultimately ranked first by a majority of the interview panel was ranked sixth by the questionnaire panel.
5. Third screening process: oral interviews
HR staff and the hiring authority jointly make the decision on the number of candidates to interview. They cannot "cherry pick" candidates. There is flexibility on how far down the list to go, but the top ranked candidates must always be interviewed. Based on the rankings from the questionnaire, HR staff recommeded that we interview either the top five or six candidates. Because I wanted to err on the side of inclusiveness, I asked that the top six candidates be interviewed, thereby narrowly including the candidate ultimately preferred by the business community. In spite of being included, this candidate notified the HR department two days before the interview that he was withdrawing his name from consideration. I called him the day before the interview and found out that he was withdrawing because, if he was selected for the position, he would be unable to start until after January 1st and felt that would be unacceptable. I told him that if he was a good fit for the position, we could negotiate a starting date after the first of the year and encouraged him to rescind his withdrawal and interview for the position. He agreed.
The interview panel consisted of:
Rafael Carbonell of the Regional Economic Development Entity
Brad Murphy, Director of the City's Planning Unit
Mark Olinger, Director of the Department of Planning and Economic and Community Development
Judy Olson, of Operation Fresh Start and former alder
Janet Piraino, Chief of Staff to the Mayor
(Salli Martyniak of Forward Community Investments had agreed to serve on the panel, but needed to be out of town on the date of the interviews, so she was replaced with Brad Murphy.)
The panel unanimously agreed to certify three candidates, including Mr. Clingan, to pass along to the Mayor for his consideration. The panel certifies those candidates it believes are qualified for the position. It was made clear to the panel that by certifying three candidates, they were deeming all of three of them qualified for the position. The panel also unanimously decided that the candidates they were passing along to the Mayor were strong enough to obviate the need to reopen the recruitment.
In order to provide both a quantitative and a qualitative analysis of the panel's views to the Mayor, I asked each panelist to rank the three candidates it certified. This is not part of the typical hiring process. It goes beyond what is required. Four of the five panelists ranked the business community's preferred candidate first. I was the only panelist who ranked Mr. Clingan above this other candidate.
6. Mayor's interviews of certified candidates
The Mayor interviewed the three certified candidates. Before the interviews, I told him that the panel was unanimous in its decision to certify the three candidates. I also told him, however, that the panel was not unanimous in the additional ranking I had asked panel members to provide. I told him I would prefer to withhold the individual rankings until he had a chance to develop his own impressions of the candidates. After telling me of his intent to hire Mr. Clingan, I told him how each panelist ranked the candidates and why.
The Mayor is obligated to choose one of the certified candidates. He is in no way obligated, however, to simply accept the panel's top choice. If that were the case, he would not be involved in the decision making process at all.
A few comments on the process
Balancing the desires of both business and community advocates: I was careful at every step in the process to be fair to both business and community services stakeholders. I ensured both were represented on each of the three panels. I extended the deadline when I learned that the job announcement didn't appear in an important economic development publication. And since the job description we used as a starting point was more focused toward the economic development and planning side of the job, I also went out of my way to get input from community and social services advocates. As I wrote to staff on May 17, 2007: "I'd appreciate your feedback on plans for the process of hiring the Economic and Community Development Director. I don't have to tell any of you that this process will be scrutinized closely to see if we were fair in the hiring process to both the economic and community development sides of the world. So please provide advice and counsel with that in mind."
Expressing the Mayor's desire to hire a strong manager: I was also up front from the beginning that the Mayor considered it a priority to hire someone with strong management skills. As I wrote in an email on Jan 18, 2007: "Somewhere in the PD the Mayor would like to get across the requirement that this person have strong skills in managing diverse programs, and balancing their needs and priorities. Also if possible, something about taking a comprehensive or holistic approach to community and economic development, or, the ability to tap a variety of city and outside resources to meet diverse needs of a project, neighborhood, or region of the city. Something that conveys meeting a lot of different needs by coordinating a variety of internal and external resources." When the interview panelists discussed what they considered to be the most important qualities they were looking for in a successful candidate, I said a strong manager was the Mayor's top priority.
This was an inclusive and transparent process and I would be happy to answer further questions about it.
Janet L. Piraino
Chief of Staff
Office of Mayor Dave Cieslewicz
210 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd., Room 403
Madison, WI 53703
Clingan's appointment is scheduled to be brought before the Madison Common Council for confirmation in October.