Opinion

Right man, wrong place | IN OUR OPINION

He certainly seems to have a great sense of humor.

That’s the upside.

The Bainbridge Island City Council interviewed Michael Caldwell at its meeting Wednesday for the job of interim city manager.

Caldwell was the top pick of the council’s ad hoc committee that has been charged with finding a new top executive for city hall. Wednesday’s interview, however, prompts a spate of questions over whether Caldwell is the right person for the job at this critical juncture for Bainbridge.

Caldwell has worked as an interim manager and city administrator for cities throughout Puget Sound and Washington.

Despite being out of the trenches for a few years, his expansive résumé of government experience seems to indicate he could handle an interim job most anywhere.

But Bainbridge? That’s a dilly of a pickle, as they say.

Caldwell told council members he could get up to speed on city issues within two weeks, though he only offered a vague outline of the issues and problems pressing the city.

His answer to potential staffing changes at city hall also raised a big question mark. Some on the council have said they don’t want a “change agent” as their interim, but Caldwell certainly didn’t depict himself as a careful caretaker of the status quo until the arrival of a permanent manager.

He made it clear he would fire at will, if circumstances required, and stuck to that unexpected answer when given a chance for a do-over by the council at Wednesday’s interview.

More telling, when asked if he had any questions for the council, he said he had none — a surprising response from any applicant to a prospective employer.

Surely, Caldwell has some idea of what he might be stepping into. After enduring a council kerfuffle over the manager hiring process, Caldwell quipped, “I want to go home.”

The council is well-advised to take additional time to ponder its interim manager hire. Though the job is a temporary position, the council needs to better define what it wants and what the community deserves for its next seat-warmer.

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