Luzerne County manager search committee sets April 26 target date to recommend three finalists for top county job

By Jennifer Learn-Andes -

The names of three finalists for Luzerne County’s top manager position will be submitted to the county council at its April 26 meeting, the county’s citizen manager search committee decided Wednesday.

The committee agreed last month it will keep all applicant information confidential and leave it up to the council to determine if or when the names of finalists are publicly released.

Council Chairwoman Linda McClosky Houck said Wednesday she believes the committee made an “appropriate decision” by deferring to the council on the release of names. The council hasn’t publicly debated that issue.

The council recently decided the committee must submit finalists’ names in alphabetical order with no ranking to prevent potential bias in the council’s own independent review.

The five-member search committee, required by the home rule charter, received 15 applications for the position, although one dropped out.

Four did not meet minimum charter requirements for education and experience, leaving 10.

Of those, six were rated qualified based on their resumes and other paperwork submitted, the committee said.

A committee majority voted Wednesday to disqualify one of those six, citing a conflict with the charter.

Multiple county sources indicate the conflict was related to a search committee member applying for the manager position. None of the five current search members applied, which leaves only Robert Fisher as the applicant in question. Fisher resigned from the committee in January to take an out-of-state job assignment.

The charter says county board and commission members must wait one year after leaving office to become a county employee.

Committee chairman Michael Giamber was the lone vote against disqualifying the applicant, saying he does not believe the reason for the removal is “valid.” Giamber declined to elaborate, citing personnel confidentiality. His argument could be based on the charter prohibition wording, which does not expressly cover members of a committee or other temporary panel.

Citizen Brian Shiner supported the removal, saying search committee members had agreed they would not be eligible to apply for the manager position.

The committee has interviewed three of the remaining five qualified applicants and plans to interview the other two on April 5.

All five must complete personality assessments through the Princeton, New Jersey-based Caliper Corp., the committee decided Wednesday. These tests are increasingly used in corporations to predict job performance personality traits, but the approach has never been tried in county government.

The committee has agreed to use this formula to score the applicants: resume and other written submissions, 46 percent; interview, 45 percent; and personality test, 9 percent.

Background checks will be conducted on the top three finalists, the committee decided.

The committee tentatively scheduled its next public meeting for April 14.

Gerard O’Donnell, Carmen Ambrosino, Christopher Slusser and Gene A. Camoni also serve on the committee.

By Jennifer Learn-Andes

Reach Jennifer Learn-Andes at 570-991-6388 or on Twitter @TLJenLearnAndes.

Reach Jennifer Learn-Andes at 570-991-6388 or on Twitter @TLJenLearnAndes.

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