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City manager interviews held in extreme secrecy

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by Trisha Ingalls

 

NEWPORT —

Tuesday night’s special city council meeting to interview candidates for city manager was a veritable cloak-and-dagger mystery, with council members and city staff going to great lengths to hide the identities of the candidates.

Newly-elected Mayor Linda Joy Sullivan, who ran her campaign on a platform of transparency in city government, called the meeting to order and read from a prepared statement, letting the public know the council would be going into executive session for interviews, and also confirming there would be no vote once the council came out of executive session.

She then asked for comments from members of the public. There were not many in attendance, but the Chronicle asked a series of questions about the interviews:  How many candidates are there?  Will the resumes of the candidates be made available?  And will any of the interviews be conducted via Zoom?

Ms. Sullivan thanked the reporter for the comments and asked for a motion to enter executive session, which was made by Kevin Charboneau and seconded by Council President John Wilson.

Members of the public were asked to wait not just outside the council chambers but downstairs on the first floor, and not at the bottom of the stairs where they would be able to see upstairs.

One person tried to go back upstairs but was asked to leave by police and by city staff.  She reported seeing a white noise machine outside the door to the council chambers to mask the voices within.

Candidates were nowhere to be seen; instead, they were found to be arriving at scheduled times and let into the basement door at the back of the building, where they would take an elevator to the second floor.  No candidates could be identified, and it is not known how many were interviewed.

The next regular meeting of city council will be Monday, September 11.

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