by Morgan Montalvo
Replacing retiring San Antonio City Manager Sheryl Sculley may be a formidable task, but far from an impossible one, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
Sculley on Thursday announced her retirement, effective before the end of next June, less than a month after two of three hard-fought ballot initiatives passed voter muster during the midterm elections.
One, Proposition B, called for capping future city manager salaries at ten times the salary of the lowest-paid city worker and limited the tenure of the position to eight years.
The passage of “Prop B” was considered by some a no-confidence vote for Sculley, the state’s highest-paid city manager, who has been in a protracted battle with the San Antonio Professional Firefighters Association over the terms of an employment contract.
Mayor Ron Nirenberg and the business community campaigned aggressively in opposition to Propositions A, B and C. Only Proposition A was defeated.
UTSA Public Administration Professor Heywood Sanders says, whatever led to Sculley's announcement, council members undoubtedly have interpreted the will of the people.
“I suspect they found themselves in a politically rather uncomfortable situation with a substantial portion of the electorate clearly not happy with where things are with respect to city management right now,” Sanders says.
He says, in spite of caps on compensation packages and length of time on the job for future city managers, there is plenty of qualified talent – locally and farther afield - to occupy Sculley’s office.
Salary, he says, is only part of the equation.
“San Antonio is a large, diverse city. It’s a plum job, and a plum job independent of exactly what that salary number is,” says Sanders.
Reinette King, one of the architects of the Proposition A, B and C “Vote Yes” campaign and one of Sculley’s most vocal critics, says she was surprised by Sculley’s Thursday announcement and, while she respects Sculley’s accomplishments, is wary of a possible “comeback tour” backroom deal between Sculley and Nirenberg.
“I also had heard a rumor last summer than Ron would let her go and then he would ‘beg’ her to come back, so I’m concerned about a possibility of this just being a sham,” says King.
Both Sanders and King say City Council would do well to develop a search and hiring process for the next city manager that is fully transparent to the electorate, with maximum opportunities for voter input.