It is disappointing, though not surprising, to learn that Knightdale’s Town Council does not intend to make public the names of finalists for its open town manager.
In explaining why the town plans to keep those names secret, Councilor Dustin Tripp leaned on the well-worn excuse we’ve heard many times before that making the names of those candidates public could cause some good candidates not to apply because they don’t want their current employers to know they are looking at other opportunities.
If we take that logic to its natural conclusion, we must assume Knightdale council members think Wake County hired a less-qualified superintendent in Jim Merrill than it could have had they kept the names of their finalists under wraps. And we assume Knightdale council members believe Wake County’s manager is not the best the county could have gotten because county commissioners opted to make public the names of their finalists. We think the performance of the people who filled those positions bears out that Knightdale’s assumptions would be incorrect.
On the other hand, we could look to eastern Wake neighbor Zebulon to see how the “keep-it-secret” approach worked when it was in the market for a town manager. Zebulon found itself being played off as a pawn by candidates who used the town’s interest as leverage to improve their current positions by playing Zebulon off against their current employer.
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And, in the end, Zebulon hired a strong candidate who wasn’t worried about what an employer thought because he was unemployed at the time they hired him. So there was, really, no reason to have kept Joe Moore’s name secret.
This latest decision is just the most recent in a string of efforts in the town of Knightdale to reduce or eliminate public inspection of the work being done by the Town Council and by town staff.
Voters might want to sit up straight and ask their own questions about just what’s going on in the town where they live, work, play and pay taxes.