Editorial: Was Brimeyer Group wrong?

Published 8:56 am Friday, September 10, 2010

“The city can point its fingers at Brimeyer, and Brimeyer can point at Verified Credentials. However, at the end of the day, someone dropped the ball prior to the rush to hire last March. The taxpayers who read this newspaper deserve the answers.”

This comes from the Sept. 2 Tribune editorial regarding the felony charges faced by Albert Lea City Manager Jim Norman. The editorial questioned the quality of the credit check on Norman prior to his hiring.

In the quest for answers, the Tribune has gathered new information, and this much is for sure:

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The finger should not be pointed at Brimeyer Group or Verified Credentials.

They did the credit check. That’s a fact. Norman has good credit.

What raised the spectre of Norman’s credit was the police investigation, which says Norman told the city finance director he had no credit.

So that leaves the question: Why would Norman say he had bad credit when in fact he had good? Was he kidding? Is the city finance director incorrect? Something is rotten in Denmark.

What’s probably going to come out of this case is the city manager gets his hands slapped by the law but won’t face jail time and Albert Lea will be in need of a new manager.

Fortunately, the Brimeyer Group guarantees its candidates for 18 months, so if Norman is let go, the next candidate search by the Albert Lea City Council will be free, except for expenses such as the cost of advertisements.

If that happens with the Norman case, it will be the first time in more than 20 years Brimeyer will need to do that.

Another point in the Sept. 2 editorial decried the low-grade quality of the five finalists. Three of them had been let go at previous jobs. However, it should be noted that the Brimeyer Group presented 10 semifinalists and the City Council selected the final five.

And the council had decreased the pay for the manager while increasing the qualifications, which, naturally, is going to limit the selection of high-grade candidates.

Conclusion: It seems the only people left to point fingers at are the elected officials who set parameters for the searches for city manager.

After the City Council and finalist Alan Lanning could not reach an agreement on pay, the council members should have considered starting a new search.

In fact, on March 12, the Tribune editorial said, “They should remember there is the option of not selecting any of the finalists and starting a new search.”