The Jeffersonian: Politicks, Sports, and Culture

Monday, August 29, 2005

Express-News: Sculley About To Be Hired

It looks like Sheryl Sculley is coming to San Antonio after all:

The City Council of Mayor Ed Garza courted its preferred city manager candidate openly, amid much public and media scrutiny.

The City Council of Mayor Phil Hardberger courted its preferred candidate privately, almost without detection.

Two different councils and two different courtships now end with the same name on top: Sheryl Sculley, the acclaimed assistant city manager in Phoenix.

A strong majority of the current council — at least eight members — want Sculley to replace soon-to-be-retired City Manager Rolando Bono.

According to three insiders, Sculley is prepared to accept a much lower offer — approximately $80,000 less than the $300,000-plus package of salary and perks proposed in April.

A breakdown of the current package, such as base salary and incentives, was not available. But Sculley will likely receive a solid raise. She earns $173,000 as the No. 2 municipal executive in Phoenix.

Insiders say a council vote on Sculley will be set for Thursday. They also say council members Roland Gutierrez and Delicia Herrera are opposed to the deal; Roger O. Flores is undecided.

Apparently, all three council members want to interview other candidates.

Sculley could not be reached for comment. Hardberger did not return calls Sunday.

In April, Sculley accepted a proposed contract that would have made her the nation's highest-paid city manager. But she withdrew after learning she did not have unanimous council support.

Hardberger, then a mayoral candidate, criticized the financial package as excessive. So did much of the public.

But Hardberger never questioned Sculley's credentials. Almost as soon as he took office, he asked that she reconsider.

Publicly, the new mayor said he would look at other candidates. But from the beginning he wanted Sculley, and he didn't want another courtship to blow up in the council's face.

So the pursuit of Sculley went underground. In late July, four people told me that one council member — not the mayor — was negotiating with Sculley by phone. The same people told me Sculley was willing to consider a lower base salary; they said she would not ask for a unanimous vote.

First off, this is great news. The much bally-hooed Sheryl Sculley is probably the best city manager candidate in America right now. Secondly, it looks as if we've been able to significantly negotiate her down from her $300,000 plus salary she was scheduled to make this past spring. Don't know if that's because she believed she made a mistake the last time around, or if the City Councilperson who has been negotiating with her was able to do a better job than our previous council. Finally, she's removed the council unanymity clause she'd been wanting. I understand why she'd want full support from her bosses, but this is for the best, it keeps one or two city councilmembers from hijacking the process.

I'm sure more details will start to leak out this week, so we'll just have to wait and see. Finally, anyone want to start a pool to guess which councilperson was doing the negotiating? In my book, it'd be a toss-up between Art Hall or Richard Perez.

Update, 2:20 pm: Hardberger announces that Sculley has accepted the offer. Her salary will be $250,000, with a $10,000 raise coming at the end of her first year. An additional $35,000 performance bonus could be given to her at the end of the second year. So basically she'll be making $260k at the end of 2006 and could possibly be making $295k at the end of 2007. Which gets us to the $300k range she looking at in April.

As far as whose been negotiating with her, it was Councilman Richard Perez, one of the two I thought could be doing it. The city will also still be paying her moving expenses, they just won't be giving her the money to do it herself.

A good day for San Antonio.