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New job security for city manager

The city council tonight is scheduled to consider rules changes that improve the job security of the city manager and lengthen the process of appointing citizens to city boards.

The new rules increase the number of votes required to fire the city manager from a simple majority to a two-thirds vote. With nine aldermen and the mayor eligible to vote, that means the measure would require seven votes, rather than six, to pass.

The new rules require the mayor to tell the council who she plans to nominate to city boards, commissions or committees three weeks before making the nomination. Under current rules the council learns about the mayor’s nominations as little as three days before they are publicly announced.

If the new rules had been in place, they might have headed off the recent controversy over appointment of Northwestern University official Ronald Naylor to the Zoning Board of Appeals, which ended with a public council vote rejecting his appointment.

The rules leave in place the practice of the mayor submitting a written biography of each nominee to the council in confidence before the candidate’s name is publicly announced.

The rules also add a new provision giving individual aldermen the authority to examine records kept by city employees.

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