New Jersey Publication Sows Discord With Unconfirmed Report Of A New Kansas City Manager
The story, which has since been taken down, said Jersey City city manager Brian Platt had been offered — and accepted — the top job in Kansas City.
Kansas City officials were blindsided Tuesday evening by a report that a finalist for the city manager's position had been offered the job before the city council had a chance to vote.
A story in the Jersey City Times displayed the headline “Kansas City Here I Come” and announced that Brian Platt had been offered and accepted the job as Kansas City city manager. The story is no longer posted on the website.
The publication cited unnamed sources. It also incorrectly stated that Platt interviewed with the city on October 5. His public interview with the city council and civic leaders was Friday, October 2.
Councilwoman Melissa Robinson told KCUR she had yet to speak to Mayor Quinton Lucas directly, but she said he has denied making Platt a job offer.
“I find it hard to believe that someone would quit their job and announce to a publication that they’re coming to Kansas City and not be offered a job,” Robinson said.
According to the city charter, a majority of the city council must vote to approve the next city manager before an offer is extended. The mayor presents his choice to the council for an up or down vote. Such an ordinance has not yet been introduced to the council.
Very suspect: tonight I got an article from a NJ news source saying Brian Platt will be the new City Manager for Kansas City. Strange, because the KCMO Charter requires a vote of the entire Council to occur before there can be an offer. This has not happened as of today.— Heather Hall KC (@HeatherHallKC) October 28, 2020
Both Robinson and councilwoman Heather Hall announced their surprise on Twitter. Robinson said she felt blindsided by the news.
"I wish Mr. Platt all the best. Perhaps he will be the next manager but not before we all cast our vote," Robinson said in a tweet.
Hall called the news "very suspect."
In a statement emailed to KCUR late last night, the mayor's spokesperson, Morgan Said, explained, "The Mayor has not formally extended a City Manager recommendation to the City Council. The Mayor continues to do outreach to Councilmembers and stakeholders alike.”
The city manager is one of the most powerful positions in local government, serving as an advisor to the mayor and city council and carrying out their policy decisions. They’re also a key player in putting together a billion-dollar-plus annual budget.
The city manager’s responsibilities are expansive and run the gamut from ensuring snow is removed in a timely manner to negotiating development deals to overseeing the completion of major infrastructure projects, like the new terminal at Kansas City International Airport.
The critical position has been filled by an interim city manager for most of Lucas’ tenure as mayor. Lucas appointed Earnest Rouse to fill the role temporarily after longtime city manager Troy Schulte left to join Jackson County government in December, 2019.