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East Lansing City Council pushes for more transparency around hiring

City of East Lansing

Members of East Lansing’s city council are working to address a growing number of staff vacancies.

The city has faceda wave of official resignations over the past few months, including in human resources, planning, and its police department.

At last week’s meeting, Councilmember George Brookover requested a public report on hiring practices from Interim City Manager Randy Talifarro and Interim City Clerk Marie Wicks. The report would have listed all non-union job openings and the actions taken to fill them.

Brookover had asked for the report to be published by the end of last week. Officials pushed back on that timeline, citing staff limitations, but Wicks said she would be able provide a document with some of this information.

East Lansing Mayor Ron Bacon says the council wants to improve communication with the community about staffing updates.

“Internally as far as council goes, we're pretty well informed on what's going on with hiring," he said. "But I think he's wanting something that (gives) the public the ability to, kind of, get a sense of what's going on with hiring.”

Bacon noted the city has limited capacity going into the budget planning season. He said the council wants the budget to be a top priority and hopes to avoid overwhelming staff.

Part of the effort, Bacon said, involves striking a balance between increasing transparency and being respectful of employee decisions.

“In the marketplace, sometimes departures are normal, particularly when you're going to have a leadership change, and people are considering career things," he said. "So I want to be respectful to both people's individual processes, and to the functioning of the city.”

The mayor added nothing is changing about the council's role in the hiring process. By law, City Council only decides who to hire for the city manager and city attorney positions.

While councilmembers may participate in interviews for potential job candidates, Bacon said the city manager will still have the final say in selecting new staff.

Arjun Thakkar is WKAR's politics and civics reporter.
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