Loading
WatchSonoma
WatchSonoma Watch

Santa Rosa City Council hires psychologist to review top managers

By KEVIN McCALLUM
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Santa Rosa has hired a second outside consultant to help it get to the bottom of issues at City Hall, this time paying a trained psychologist from Napa to help the council review the performance of top city managers.

Mayor Scott Bartley said he initiated a “360 review” of City Manager Kathy Millison and City Attorney Caroline Fowler last month to broaden and improve the way the council evaluates its two at-will employees.

Santa Rosa Council Chambers at City HallThe city has hired Bill Mathis, principal of the Napa-based Mathis Group, to guide the council through a new evaluation process that includes confidential interviews with the two employees, the department heads they manage and city council members.

“I think it’s just a smart way to evaluate anybody,” Bartley said.

Mathis, who bills himself as one of the few public sector management psychologists in the nation, has done work for the city before and is well known in the industry, Bartley said.

It has been customary for the mayor to lead the City Council in its annual review of the city manager and city attorney, who under the city’s charter serve at the will of the council.

But Bartley said he found last year’s evaluations frustrating in part because of the sharply divided council.

“It’s challenging when there are seven individuals with seven opinions, some of whom have never done employee evaluations before,” Bartley said.

Pulling those disparate views together into a coherent evaluation and agreeing on a plan for improvement is “a very difficult thing to do,” especially since council members are prohibited from individually discussing an employee’s job performance with them, he said.

The result is the process has been allowed to slip. Council policy is to complete such reviews by March, before the budget process. But last year the reviews didn’t begin in earnest until the summer and were never completed because after the October shooting of Andy Lopez “things were flying in every direction.”

After the reviews are completed, the employees are supposed to respond with work plans for the coming year, but that didn’t happen and at this point would be “academic” given the new process, Bartley said.

The goal now is to get the evaluations back on track in part by having a trained professional guide the process, Bartley said.

“I think it’s positive for everybody and takes an arduous job away from the council and helps us get some more constructive feedback,” Bartley said.

With three key department heads leaving near the end of 2013, Bartley said he moved forward with hiring Mathis in early December because he wanted make sure those managers could share their input before they left.

Mathis has been conducting interviews for several weeks and is expected to submit a confidential report on his findings to the City Council in coming weeks.

Some who have met with Mathis have called him professional and insightful.

Whatever report he submits to the council likely will synthesize any issues raised regarding Millison’s and Fowler’s performance, but the sources of that information will remain confidential, Bartley said.

Mathis likely will then help the council craft its performance review. The new process in no way reflects on the performance of either employee, Bartley said.

Councilman Gary Wysocky asked Millison during this week’s council meeting what Mathis’ work was costing the city. She said she didn’t know but would get him an answer.

Bartley said he didn’t know the answer either, but “as far as I’m concerned it’s a cost of doing business.”

City Hall was closed Friday and Millison could not be reached for comment.

Human Resources director Fran Elm said she couldn’t remember an outside consultant being hired for such evaluations in her 25 years with the city, but she knows other cities do so.

“It is not uncommon for other cities to do this exact same thing,” Elm said.

Mathis is the second outside consultant hired in recent months to help the council manage what some see as growing signs of dysfunction.

Bartley lodged a complaint against Wysocky in November, accusing him of creating a hostile work environment at City Hall following an argument he had with Fowler in the tense days following the Andy Lopez shooting.

That prompted the city to hire attorney Morin Jacob, with the San Francisco law firm Liebert Cassidy Whitmore, to investigate the allegation, at $265 per hour.

(You can reach Staff Writer Kevin McCallum at 521-5207 or kevin.mccallum@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @citybeater.)





12 Responses to “Santa Rosa City Council hires psychologist to review top managers”

  1. Carlstrom cure says:

    Good move but Carlstrom needs a session too to discuss all those delusions of grandeur.

  2. The Hammer says:

    Just amazing to me how easily they can spent the other guys bucks. What about the streets that need attending to?

  3. Robert says:

    The band of rabbits at city hall are so dysfunctional, a shrink will not help. In the real world, heads would roll and a new team put on the field.

    This fantasy land called city government is a total shame of liberals who don’t want to make judgements or condemn. They want their old nanny to point the finger and make everything feel good again.

    Suck it up council and do your job. Stop acting like school children and fire those who need to be replaced with employees willing to do your will.

    What a joke at the taxpayer expense.

  4. Grapevines says:

    The first “in-depth” psychological examination I would like to see is: Define a County Official wearing only their underwear and carrying a 6 pack at 2 A.M. tearing open a screen, and attempting to move the blinds on a single woman’s window of the room she’s sleeping in.

    Then define the thought process of the supposed “specially assigned investigator” (sounds so much better than poor fool assigned to damage control)that qualifies that this “incident” only warrants a charge of “PEEPING??”

    Never mind that this “County Official” also shortly after waking this lady, attempted to get her to open up to him by knocking on her door, in the same lack of clothing, and then running away.

    PEEPING???

    You know, this report would be one that I could actually read, abet without getting sick I doubt, but I would press myself to read it through.

    Could I ask the City Council to do that? Loan the “Special Psychologist” to the county? After all Captain Underpants comes from the West side and everyone knows what you think of anyone on the West side anyway.

  5. Papa ESoCo says:

    Well, the “dysfunctional” City Council and their “at will Employees” certainly need some “professional” help. This has been a “clown show” for a long time. What? The Council never even gave the Manager and City Attorney “Performance Reviews”? So who evaluates their performance, especially surrounding the Andy Lopez incidents? This time, this may be money well spent.

  6. Geoff Johnson says:

    “Bartley said he found last year’s evaluations frustrating in part because of the sharply divided council.”

    “Mathis is the second outside consultant hired in recent months to help the council manage what some see as growing signs of dysfunction.

    Bartley lodged a complaint against Wysocky in November, accusing him of creating a hostile work environment at City Hall following an argument he had with Fowler in the tense days following the Andy Lopez shooting.

    That prompted the city to hire attorney Morin Jacob, with the San Francisco law firm Liebert Cassidy Whitmore, to investigate the allegation, at $265 per hour.”

    Get the picture?

    Bartley is too weak to build consensus between “seven individuals with seven opinions”.

    The bankers, builders, and brokers have controlled the Council for so long, that their hacks at City Hall no longer know how to cope with even faint opposition.

    So now they hire expensive paid consultants, to tell them how to do their jobs.

  7. Steveguy says:

    “He is a #%&$#@” ” She is a %#*%$!”

    What does anyone expect them to say ? Reveal what heart ?

    ‘Nuff said.

  8. Steveguy says:

    What if they are all found unfit for the position ?

    Dream on, this is just another touchy-feely feel good waste. Business as usual.

    Laughing stock once this gets out.

  9. brown act jack says:

    gee, flks you really are willing to accept that the Mayor can hire and fire people without the City Council knowing about it.

    And then force the employees to discuss their lives and beliefs so that the Mayor can see how to improve the City?

    And spend money without the Council’s approval?

    And then hold secret meetings to find out what the report contains?

    You all okay with that sort of stuff?

    Hello dictatorship, goodby to constitutional democracy!

  10. Wysocky needs head examined says:

    Good move. Can the psych do anything about Wysocky anger management issue?

  11. James Bennett says:

    Amazing.

    They don’t need a psychologist.

    They need a constitutionalist.

    So many ways to spend our money,
    so little time.

  12. Steveguy says:

    Babysitters are cheaper. Make the evals public and I am all for it. Who is the most narcissistic, most easily bought or swayed. worst attitude, etc ?

    No need, a 16 year old babysitter could describe each one in a more realistic way.