Atherton City Council members have been scrambling to find a short-term town manager until another interim manager is appointed next month after the unexpected Oct. 15 announcement by the assistant city manager that she is retiring, effective Thursday, Oct. 21 -- one day before City Manager Jerry Gruber's last day on the job.
After meeting twice in special sessions since the weekend, council members say they hope to appoint, at the regular council meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 20, one of three candidates identified as potential short-term managers, according to Deputy City Clerk Theresa DellaSanta.
In the wake of Atherton City Manager Jerry Gruber's resignation last month, Assistant City Manager Eileen Wilkerson announced her retirement last week, giving only one week's notice.
Ms. Wilkerson, who was hired by Mr. Gruber in 2008, could not be reached for comment. A two-sentence announcement was sent out Oct. 15 by the deputy city clerk.
Assuming that the assistant city manager would be able to oversee Town Hall operations for a short period after Mr. Gruber's departure, the council had begun a process to appoint an interim city manager by early November until a permanent manager could be found.
But with Ms. Wilkerson's unexpected announcement, Mayor Kathy McKeithen, Councilman Jim Dobbie and Mr. Gruber immediately shifted into high gear to find a temporary manager to bridge the period between next week and the interim manager's appointment. The mayor and Mr. Dobbie have been working as an ad-hoc committee to find an interim city manager.
"We have some good possibilities (for an immediate replacement) in mind," Ms. McKeithen said last week.
But even though the person will be appointed for only a few weeks, she added, "We don't want a bad fit. ... (The appointment) won't be so extremely rushed that we make a bad decision."
Ms. McKeithen noted that the entire council will make the appointment. "It will be the council's choice, not just the (ad-hoc) committee's," she said.
In the search for an interim city manager who will oversee Town Hall until a recruitment process finds a permanent manager, the town has set a 5 p.m. Oct. 29 deadline for applications, hoping to have someone in place by Nov. 8 or soon after.
The council decided in late September to appoint an interim manager to head operations in Town Hall to allow the town to take its time in finding a permanent city manager in a process that will include appointing a citizens committee to help interview the council-chosen finalists among candidates.
After this week, three of Atherton's top management positions will be vacant. Former building official Mike Wasmann left his position as head of the troubled building department in August, and the council is seeking applications for a replacement.