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City manager déjà vu

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Secretive and stingy: That's how news reports have characterized at least two of the three candidates for Durham city manager, who resigned from their former city manager posts amid controversy. A third candidate reportedly left before being fired.

Earlier this year, Patrick Salerno was forced to resign as city manager of Sunrise City, Fla., according to a report in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. The story quoted Sunrise City commissioners as saying they were "fed up with his ham-handed and secretive management style." Salerno, who held the position almost 18 years, will collect an estimated $788,692 in accrued time and severance pay from Sunrise City, according to the report.

George Kolb resigned late last year as city manager of Wichita, Kan., because of what city council members called "philosophical differences," according to a story in the Wichita Eagle. The Eagle report included a laundry list of criticisms of the outgoing manager. According to the report, council members criticized Kolb for including plans to privatize the city's performing arts center in the city's budget without enough analysis on how key tenants would be affected. Police and fire unions picketed city hall because of drawn-out contract negotiations and low pay increase offers. And builders and others fought Kolb’s plan to create a redevelopment authority that would have power to acquire land and turn it over to developers for redevelopment. Kolb will collect $182,700 in severance pay.

Randy Oliver resigned as city manger from Peoria, Ill., in January, amid rumors he was going to be fired, according to a blog post by the news director of WCBU, the public radio station in Peoria.

Salerno, Oliver or Kolb will take over for Durham city manager Patrick Baker, who will also leave his office amid criticism. Baker was city manager during several city government bungles.

The finalists will take questions from the public and city employees at a forum tonight from 7-8:30 p.m. in City Council Chambers, 101 City Hall Plaza.

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