Cape Coral has a new city manager.
By a 5-3 vote, city council hired Gary King, a former vice president with State Street Bank and Trust and a local mortgage broker, as the city's top administrator. Council approved a two-year contract that calls for $132,500 in base salary, various benefits and the possibility of $20,000 in incentive bonuses if Mr. King achieves 11 objectives outlined by the board.
We welcome Mr. King and wish him success.
To that end we offer two suggestions, one for the public, the other to Mr. King as he assumes the reins of the city's administration.
First, we urge residents, city employees and the divided council itself to lend its support to the new leadership. Mr. King has his work cut out for him and regardless of one's position on his appointment, he should be given not only the opportunity to succeed but the backing to do so.
This does not mean he is owed a "honeymoon" period wherein mistakes are pre-forgiven. Mr. King presented himself as qualified for the challenges ahead. A council majority has assured the community that not only is Mr. King up to those challenges but that he was the best qualified among an ample field of candidates to lead the Cape out of the financial and political morass in which it is mired.
Mr. King himself said it best: It is likely he will be held to a higher standard.
It is to this end that we offer our second suggestion, this one to Mr. King, the first manager in the Cape whose contract calls for specific accomplishment-based compensation. If one is to be credited - and compensated for - the administration's successes as a whole, then one also stands alone to be held accountable for any failures.
We suggest - strongly suggest - that Mr. King's remember this accountability tenet, and apply it to all actions as he takes the helm.
Building public trust is among his challenges in our divided and divisive community and Mr. King must take great care to avoid even the appearance of political or PR machinations behind the scenes. Put another way, he must do the right thing for the right reasons to rally all those asked to support him to continue to do so.
Unfortunately, Mr. King has already stepped off on the wrong foot with the salary "give back" charade that actually netted him $2,500 more than the city negotiator offered him, according to a draft contract sent to the city attorney's office. Especially troubling is that it was packaged as a $7,500 "reduction" of the amount brought forward for citizen consumption.
As transgressions go, it's not a biggie though it certainly is a missed opportunity for transparency, something that should be the cornerstone of any administration.
As we ask the community to give Mr. King its support and trust, we ask Mr. King not to tread upon either to accomplish his and council's goals.
Again, welcome, Mr. King. Count us among those who wish you success and sincerely hope miscues, if any, will be minor and far between.
- Breeze editorial