Cid seeks review of town manager’s performance

Government By Linda Trischitta and David Snelling Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Miami Lakes Mayor Manny Cid has proposed a review of Town Manager Edward Pidermann’s performance, 15 months before the manager’s contract is set to expire.

Cid placed a new business item on the Oct. 12 council meeting agenda which calls for creating a “manager selection process” and a selection committee.

The item can be pulled at any time, even at the meeting, but Cid said in a memo to council members that he believes it “would be prudent”
for the town to start the process.

If the council approves, the committee would create a job description, evaluate Pidermann’s qualifications and performance and decide not only whether his contract should be extended, but also whether he should be a candidate for the job in 2023.

“I have nothing to say,” Pidermann said on Oct. 7 about Cid’s memo. “We’ll see [what happens] at the meeting.”

Cid said the selection committee would be chosen by council members.

The manager selection search should be completed no later than two months after Pidermann’s contract expires, the memo said.

The recommendations are “an idea” for the council to discuss, Cid said on Oct. 7.

“It’s changeable,” Cid said. “Forget about the manager. It’s about creating a process.”

Cid said continuity of leadership and good government requires making plans for future councils to follow.

“The first question we have to answer is if we are going to do an evaluation of the manager and decide if we’re going to extend [the contract] or not,” Cid said.

Cid said his discussion item was “not personal” regarding Pidermann.

“With respect to the council, I’ll discuss his performance with them,” he said.

Council members react

Vice Mayor Luis Collazo said, “I believe the mayor’s proposal may be starting the process prematurely.”

In an email sent Oct. 7, Councilman Joshua Dieguez said, “I don’t understand the timing or the reasoning behind the item.

“The search process that was initiated last time contemplated [former town manager] Alex Rey’s retirement from the town and that is in part why it was initiated so early.”

Dieguez said the search to replace Rey took “way too long” and that “some great candidates dropped out for more immediate offers as a result.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if the extensive process then dissuaded others from applying, given how awkward it is to conduct a public job search while staying employed at your current job,” Dieguez said.

In April 2019, Dieguez sponsored municipal legislation for a manager search process that the council unanimously approved.

It requires a residents’ committee to present candidates in three months and for the council to make a hire in four months, unless it grants itself an extension.

“Further, I think it undermines the manager with his employees by having a public and prolonged search,” Dieguez said. “I will wait for the mayor to provide more context, but I don’t understand what positive public policy purpose is served by it.”

Cid said Dieguez’s legislation “was for a vacancy, not when there is an incumbent.”

When asked why it was necessary to do this now, Cid said he was advised by “several professionals who do this for a living.”

He declined to say who those advisors were, and said he had no candidates in mind to replace Pidermann.

“Nobody,” Cid said.

Cid is a partner in the Mayor’s Café.

He is term-limited and leaves elected office in November 2024.

He said he didn’t want the town manager job.

Councilwoman Marilyn Ruano said she would wait until the meeting to comment.

Councilman Jeffrey Rodriguez said he had not been briefed by Pidermann and Attorney Raul Gastesi for the council meeting and wanted to wait before commenting.

Councilmembers Tony Fernandez and Carlos Alvarez could not be reached for comment.

Pidermann’s performance

Pidermann, 59, was appointed town manager on Feb. 2, 2019, from among five candidates on the short list drawn up by a selection committee.

Previously he spent 30 years at City of Miami Department of Fire Rescue, retiring as deputy fire chief of operations.

He holds several college degrees including a Masters degree in Public Administration from Florida International University.

Earlier this year, the town received ratings of A+ from Fitch and A1 from Moody’s in reference to the $15.5 million stormwater municipal bond issue.

The town is also making preparations for a massive renovation of Miami Lakes Optimist Park.

The council has chosen an $18.7 million redesign of the ball fields, basketball and tennis courts, drainage, concession stand and restrooms.

The project will need approval in a public vote and will likely be funded by municipal bonds.

The town said it has the sixth lowest property tax rate of 34 municipalities in Miami-Dade County and the levy has stayed the same, $2.31 per $1,000 of assessed property, during Pidermann’s tenure.

Pidermann’s contract lasts until Feb. 1, 2023; his annual salary is $178,000.

He has not received a raise since he was hired, and the town said that he has not had performance evaluations, even though his contract calls for annual reviews.

On Sept. 22, 2020, after Pidermann managed the challenges of the pandemic and the budget, Cid led a vote of confidence for him.

The council approved it; Ruano was the lone no vote.

She commended Pidermann for his performance at that time, but said they didn’t share the same vision and direction for the town.

“He’s always going to do what’s right,” Cid said then about Pidermann, who has lived in Miami Lakes for three decades with his wife Martha and raised three children in the town.

“He’s somebody I trust,” Cid said then. “I fully trust in that position and I know, the vast majority of our residents trust Ed Pidermann.”