City Clerk appointment ruffles feathers

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All was well with Tuesday’s council meeting until Mayor Al Litman opened discussion on item 11, to approve the appointment of a new City Clerk.

Litman began the item with his nomination of current Deputy City Clerk, Tracy Beck, who has been in that position since Oct. 28, 2013. She has also been covering the position of the normal City Clerk, which was vacated by Cherry Lawson on April 21, 2015. At that time, the City Manager’s Assistant, Joy Eastwood, was appointed Interim City Clerk although she abruptly resigned a few short weeks later, resuming her former post for the City Manager.

Immediately receiving a second to Litman’s motion by Councilwoman Cindi Delaney, the item moved on to discussion, which began with Councilman Kraig Hafen, who was adamantly against her appointment, as she didn’t “score the highest” in the two-panel interview process that had taken place over the summer. Hafen called Litman out on the spot, asking why he chose a person who was clearly not the top scorer.

Councilman Kraig Hafen questions City of Mesquite Human Resources Manager Gina Mendez about the results from a two-panel interview process held over the summer for the vacant City Clerk position. Photo by Stephanie Frehner.

Councilman Kraig Hafen questions City of Mesquite Human Resources Manager Gina Mendez about the results from a two-panel interview process held over the summer for the vacant City Clerk position. Photo by Stephanie Frehner.

“I would justify my choice by selecting Ms. Beck because Ms. Beck has all of the experience necessary,” said Litman.

Hafen continued questioning the City of Mesquite’s Human Resource Manager, Gina Mendez, going through the results from the panels, eventually showing that the numbers that were provided to council members were incorrect in themselves.

Councilman Rich green made the first mention that the overall process is flawed, and that “there’s no reason to change… she’s doing a good job.”

According to Councilman George Rapson, someone “didn’t get the results they wanted from the first panel” and opted to conduct the second. Two interview panels were held over a month apart, and consisted of a total of 12 panelists. “This is a railroading ramrod deal that doesn‘t make any sense to me. Why did we waste our time in the interview process if it was going to be totally disregarded and ignored?”

Delaney came to the Mayor’s defense recounting an incident during the panel process where the City Clerk of North Las Vegas had scored Beck higher than the other candidates. Delaney then put City Manager Andy Barton on the spot, citing a statement he made to her that Mindee West, the overall highest scorer, wouldn’t have even made it to the final round of interviews had it not been asked of him to get her there. “She was not considered qualified,” Delaney said.

“I have known Mindee for a long, long time. I have known Tracy for a number of years. And, I guess I am of the opinion that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” said Councilman Geno Withelder via phone, in support of Litman’s nomination.

“This smacks of prior council. This blindsided me tonight. I was talking to some gentleman who said ‘I think a lot of Mindee,’ who I don’t know, by the way, except for the interview, and I said, what’s the problem? She scored the most, so what’s the problem. This is what happened in the last council with the last mayor,” raged Rapson, referring to several appointments former Mayor Susan Holecheck had made during her administration.

Eyes went back to Hafen as he then put the heat on Barton, asking why he had them go through this process if they were just going to put Beck in anyway. Barton’s response was that he thought it would be an advantage of the city to go through an open process.

Mendez did tell the council that municipal experience, which West does not have, is preferred, although not required, which was not what Barton had told Delaney in a previous conversation. “Mindee’s name was mentioned to me very, very abruptly, and I suggested that she be interviewed,” said Barton.

Mayor Al Litman, Left, swears in Tracy E. Beck as the official City Clerk at the October 13, 2015 City Council Meeting. Photo by Stephanie Frehner.

Mayor Al Litman, Left, swears in Tracy E. Beck as the official City Clerk at the October 13, 2015 City Council Meeting. Photo by Stephanie Frehner.

Hafen pleaded with Mayor Litman to reconsider his nomination, which was declined, and Beck was appointed to City Clerk by a vote of 3-2; Withelder, Green and Delaney voting in favor Beck as City Clerk and Hafen and Rapson opposing.

After the meeting, Litman agreed that the process was flawed, saying “the questions didn’t take into account the experience of the individual.”

Beck was in good spirits despite the nearly 30-minute heated discussions. “It is good that everything gets questioned and that there would be challenge. I am glad that I was supported in my work from June to the present time, and that it counted for something. There were a lot of things people don’t understand about how all this happened.”

Comments

  1. Brandon Cox says:

    Please, Ms. Beck, explain to the public what those “things” are that the people don’t understand how all this happened. Transparency is key to the taxpayers of this City.

    Mayor Litman reminds me of an individual or two who I work with… go about the proper way so no legalities arise but they know damn well who they want for these positions.. Councilman Rapson hit it right on the nail: this is what happened in last council with Holecheck. If the position does not require “municipal” experience but the test results in a high score, that individual will, no doubt, learn the necessary procedures of the job. I don’t know Mrs. West, or the other candidates, but open City jobs to fresh people with new ideas.

    Thank you, Kraig and George, for not being afraid to say no.

  2. Brent Carson says:

    Hafen wanted another LDS person for the position. Nothing more, nothing less.

    • Hafen wanted the top applicant. Maybe the real issue is that the mayor DIDN’T want an lds person. Religion has nothing to do with qualifications and the interview process. So it really doesn’t even belong in the discussion.

      • Steve Clutterham says:

        She was not even close to being the top applicant. She was by far the least qualified of all three women being considered. Per Mrs. Delaney and Mr. Barton she was only moved into the interview process at someone else’s insistence. If they were going to publish the overall interview test scores, they should also have showed how each individual interviewer scored the applicants. However, perhaps this would have shed too much light on the subject.

        • If she wasn’t the top applicant why did her scores reflect that? Why did she out score everyone by a large margin? As it was mentioned, Mrs. Beck did not receive the score that the Major and other council members were hoping to see and that’s why there was a second set of interviews. She still came in 3rd and was unfortunate given the job. I think you’re right though, had ALL the interview information been published, it would’ve shed too much light and Major couldn’t do Mrs. Beck a favor and appoint her for the job. Everything that went down Tuesday night just goes to show why the City is an absolute mess!!

  3. Hafen and rapson are just upset because one of there juiced in mormon
    Buds did not get it.
    Mesquite will grow and be a much better place when the old boyz mormon faction
    Slowly disappear,and go back up to st george and slc

    • I don’t think Rapson is a mormon.

      • Yes but all his money is made with his mormon bros-
        Much like geno

        • Why are you even bringing religion into this? Seems like you may have some insight that you should share with us.
          Whether an applicant be Mormon, Jewish, catholic, etc.
          Preventing someone from getting a job because of their religion could be detrimental to the city.
          Also Mr “Enforcer” who settled this great city of Mesquite? Who built this city into what it is now? Must of been Hafen’s “buds” and “bros”. It seems that you don’t mind enjoying what them “juiced in mormons” built for us. I’m not even part of their religion and I can hear how foolish you sound. Maybe it’s time for you to find a different place to live.

  4. Steve Clutterham says:

    Hiring the least qualified person for any position based solely on well they interviewed is ridiculous. That will set you up for repeated great disappointments. The strength of their interview should only be one of the considerations for making a final decision. From junior high through college all schools offer classes on interviewing well, as well as any employment agency. Acing the interview is very important.
    However being qualified for the job you’re applying for is more important in the long run. To hire an inexperienced applicant with only a bachelors degree over an experienced person with a masters degree in business who is currently doing the job could have been a major mistake.
    Hiring for any position should never be a personality contest. The main consideration should always be who is the most qualified for the position they are applying for. Yes it is true that most applicants could learn the duties of city clerk eventually, but why would you want to go through that when you have a more qualified and educated person there already doing the job.
    The board made the same decision that any business in the private sector would have made. .Mr. Hafen and Mr. Rapson’s attitudes and comments were entirely unnecessary. Mr’. Hafen’s temper tantrum and storming out of the meeting was childish and uncalled for.

  5. First off, congratulations to Mrs. Beck on being appointed. It’s too bad that the top/best applicant didn’t receive the job. You could clearly see the Major slouch in his chair when he got shot down when councilman Hafen called him out on why he was choosing Mrs. Beck.
    It was probably Mrs. Beck that published the scores incorrectly to make her look better than she was. That back fired!!!

    • Steve Clutterham says:

      Don’t be ridiculous. H R admitted that was their mistake. Just as H R stated that Miss West would not even have made it to interview process due to her lack of experience and education in the field,, had not one of the board members firmly insist she be considered. Once again. the scores were based solely on the quality of the interviews, and had zero to do with knowledge and experience. And no matter what the scores were, no one ever indicated even the slightest interest in giving the job to Miss Goessman.

  6. Sheree Goessman says:

    I feel the need to chime in as I was one of the candidates. Had it not been for Councilman Hafen I would not have known I was #2 on the list instead of #3 as it was published in the meeting backup material. I worked for the City of Mesquite, City Clerk’s Office, from December 1995 until February 2010 as the Deputy City Clerk. I also served as the Interim City Clerk from August 2008-October 2009. As in this case, the City Council wanted to see what candidates were available for the City Clerk position and ended up hiring an Arizona City Clerk in October 2009. I then went back to my Deputy City Clerk position once the new City Clerk started her employ. Over the next couple months I trained the new City Clerk in her new position and in February 2010 my position as Deputy City Clerk was eliminated due to budget cuts. I am a Certified Municipal Clerk and obtained my certification in 2005. I have lived in the City of Mesquite since 1994 and was instrumental in bringing the records management program to the City of Mesquite. So for the Mayor to say his choice was based on experience is absurd.

  7. Rena Moerman says:

    Try as I might I did not see any reference in this article about anyone..not the Mayor, or the Council, the City Manager…noting how fortunate they were in having what appears to be 3 extremely qualified candidates. Perhaps that was just not included in this article. I know they must have been very qualified because I know Mrs. Goessman. I have seen first hand the professionalism and skill she brings to the table. Unfortunately, it appears that either HR or the City Manager did not do their job in helping the Mayor and the Council set up parameters for awarding this position which would have avoided this whole problem. I am completely stunned that scores for this position were not checked and rechecked for accuracy. I wish Ms. Beck success and I hope I wish the City success in working out a better process for next time.

  8. richard morris says:

    why did it take all these months to finally select a city clerk.
    I understand for a appointed position in the city you go through
    the process of being interviewed by select council members etc
    and our graded on a scale of 1-10.
    Mindee West graded out as #1.
    as the mayor was quoted it is a flawed selection process.
    That is like a football game where you win 24-21 and the next
    day the refs decide they saw a clip on a play and take away
    the touchdown and you lose the game.
    Only two people had it right and two council members were
    asleep at the wheel plus one who said if it ain’t broken don’t
    fix it
    Ricky

  9. richard morris says:

    why did it take all these months to finally select a city clerk.
    I understand for a appointed position in the city you go through
    the process of being interviewed by select council members etc
    and our graded on a scale of 1-10.
    Mindee West graded out as #1.
    As the mayor was quoted it is a flawed selection process.
    That is like a football game where you win 24-21 and the next
    day the refs decide they saw a clip on a play and take away
    the touchdown and you lose the game
    That is what happened tuesday

    • Steve Clutterham says:

      Completely wrong, Mindee West was the least educated of the three with the least overall experience and no municipal experience. She only made to the interview process because “some” board member insisted she be included in the process. Trying to force the board to hire the least qualified, least educated person to fill any position is a bad idea. The only part of the selection process she scored highest in was the interview, not the qualifications. It’s the board’s job to hire the best qualified person. not the one they hand select from the outside and therefore score her the highest in the personality contest. Why Miss Goessman didn’t receive more credit for her experience and obvious qualifications I can’t tell you. You would have to ask the board members that. Not letting them sneak in Miss West was absolutely the correct and fair thing to do.

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