Qualified Female Deputy City Managers Lose Top Job to Male Candidate

By: Howard Melamed

Deputy City Managers Jennifer Bramley and Susan Grant, who have been with the City of Coral Springs for more than 15 years, made it to the final four candidates out of 46 for the position of City Manager. 

Instead of going with Bramley or Grant, along with superior qualifications, 3 out of 5 city commissioners – all males wanted a man, even though the one they chose had only three years experience as an assistant city manager, never worked for our city, never lived here, and had inferior qualifications.  In the final vote – a unity vote, all voted in favor. 

Maybe it was because there was no swimsuit contest,  maybe it was because male chauvinistic attitudes still exist, or maybe the male commissioners simply could not have a female city manager telling them what to do. 

Shortsighted or no balls?

When City Manager Erdal Donmez decided to announce that he was retiring as city manager a few months ago, the first thought that came to mind is which of the two qualified deputy city managers would be getting his job? Was it going to be Jennifer Bramley or Susan Grant?  Both have been ‘groomed’ by two different city managers, are current employees of the city,  are well aware of running this city efficiently and with proper focus and both have great experience.  They, in fact,  made Erdal look good.  Even he will say it.  They were  always on target, and always represented the city in a positive way.  The city manager  even made them deputies, not assistants.

Either Bramley or Grant would have made a great city manager.

However, one problem: both are women.  This city commission did not want a woman in charge. So they went outside into the world and hired a man from Texas, who has less qualifications, but met their one criteria: balls. He had a set of balls – he was a man.

More than 50 percent of the residents in Coral Springs are female, yet we have only one female city commissioner. Less than 12 percent of this country has a mayor that is a woman and there are less than 18 percent of the city managers in this country that are woman. Far be it that our city commission would even think about putting a woman in charge as a city manager. How would that look? Certainly women have other positions that they would be best suited for: like deputy city manager.

The city commission wanted a man. This city commission had no balls to go with a woman – since most city managers around the country are men. There is an equality gap, however in our city, there should not be one.

I really do not know why Bramley or Grant were not called assistant city manager instead of deputy city managers.  Assistant is like ‘Secretary’ as in “here is my assistant”.  Yes, assistant city manager, no problem. Deputy city manager is something more manly, so to speak. Deputy Barney Fife, for instance. The deputy should be higher in status than ‘Assistant’ don’t you think? Maybe a woman can be deputy, but city manager? City manager must have a set of balls.

Interesting,  how Vice Mayor Dan Daley was quoted saying to a female reporter in the Sun Sentinel  that he wants to take this city in a different direction. “I want somebody hungry who wants to make a name for himself.”  

Hungry?  Himself?

Hungry, implies male dominance as in “he was hungry for a job” or “he hungered for revenge.” He is not hungry enough. He hungered for a good meal prepared by a woman. Then “himself” as in not  “herself” or “themselves”? 

Perhaps in a Trumpistic  society where males no longer have to worry about political correctness or any respect for the females that are a majority of our population,  the new direction that Daley wants to take us to is to not hire a competent city manager, male or female,  but rather someone with balls,  who is going to use our city as a stepping stone to something greater. What direction might that be?

Perhaps 50 years ago when women knew their place in our male world, they weren’t promoted back then and certainly not now. They don’t need to make a name for themselves and they do not hunger as men do.

Apparently, newly appointed City Commissioner Mike Goodrum, chosen from over 50 people was a Texas A&M graduate from Sugarland, Texas. Roll that city name around your tongue a few times if you will: S-U-G-A-R-L-A-N-D Texas. Sounds like a place where they had a plantation, pretty stupid considering that the City of Coral Springs has a 20 percent black population. Sugarland has less than a one percent Jewish population compared to our 23 percent. I am pretty sure Mike will need to catch up to fully understand the needs of the Jews in the city.

The Sun Sentinel reporter did not ask Daley why they passed over two female deputy city managers, and no reason was given by him as to why he did not even consider hiring a woman. 

Daley is not the only one that had decided this. Three out of the four males certainly did too. Mayor Campbell, Larry Vignola, and no doubt Lou Cimaglia voted for the man as it would be unethical to vote against Daley and Vignola.

Commissioners Lou Cimaglia and Joy Carter voted against the male choice as both female candidates where better qualified.  Later they were asked for a unity vote in which the vote became 4-1 with Carter sticking to her choice. 

Third assistant to the city manager

So Mike Goodrum, a  number three assistant city manager currently working in Sugarland, Texas, a city with half our population, 500 staff members less than ours, and a smaller police force was hired. Mike Goodrum is the last assistant manager of a team of three – all men. In Sugarland, they make sure to have a man as assistants. 

With only three years of experience as an assistant – third assistant to the city manager in Sugarland, he is now given the top job here in Coral Springs with a $200,000+ salary and the keys to the vault.  How stupid can our city commissioners be?

To be fair,  I am really not sure what criteria they used to decide that this guy was the best choice.  I never met him and have no malice towards him, however,  I am fearful of this new direction that the city commissioners want to take us.  I only know how stupid our commissioners choose were to not choose from the two experienced candidates who made it past 46 other candidates that were already working for us.

The old direction was bad enough, and the new old direction was terrible. So which direction are we now to head?  Definitely not in the right direction.

There is no question in my mind that the best choice for this city would have been to hire either Susan Grant or Jennifer Bramley.  Here are their qualifications:

Jennifer Bramley

Bramley – a woman, joined the City of Coral Springs in August 1990 as an Assistant Planner.  She worked progressively more responsible positions in the Community Development Department from Assistant Planner to Chief Planner. During those years, Jennifer was instrumental in the development the Slice of the Springs meetings, the Development of Regional Impact for Downtown Coral Springs, the Community Redevelopment Agency and special projects, such as Public Art and traffic management. She was pleased to contribute to the City’s efforts to win the Governor’s Sterling Award for quality and organizational excellence in 1997 and 2003.

In 2007, Jennifer joined the City of Tamarac as Director of Community Development where she was responsible for five divisions, consisting of Code Compliance, Planning and Zoning, Housing and Neighborhoods, Economic Development and Business Revenue. Jennifer returned to the City of Coral Springs as Deputy City Manager in August 2013.

Jennifer holds a Bachelors of Art in Political Science from Florida Atlantic University. She completed the University of Virginia Darden School of Business Leadership Development course in 2007, and the FIU Academy of Strategic Management in 1998. She is also a member of the American Planning Association.

Wow.  A woman that actually has great experience, who joined this city with a real job : Assistant Planner. FAU graduate. FAU is 10 miles NW of Coral Springs. Texas A&M is somewhere in Texas.

However, she has one strike against her: she is a woman.

Susan Grant

Grant, a woman, and a Certified Public Accountant, joined the City of Coral Springs in March 1991 as City Controller. In 1993, she became the Director of Human Resources, where she was responsible for recruitment and selection, policy formation and interpretation, training and development, classification and compensation, rewards and recognition, employee relations (including labor negotiations), and pension and benefits administration. Susan was also instrumental in the City receiving the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award as the lead application writer on the senior management team, as was also a Baldrige examiner. In April 2010, she also took on the City’s financial responsibilities when she became the Director of Financial Services.

Prior to working for the City of Coral Springs, Susan was the Vice President and Chief Financial Officer at Ambassador Savings and Loan Association from 1987 to 1991. There, she supervised and directed the accounting, financial reporting and treasury functions of this $250 million financial institution.

Susan holds a Bachelors of Science in Accounting from the University of Florida.

However, poor Grant has a strike against her. She is a woman. Certainly in all the time she had developing her career should could have done something about that.

Bramley and Grant are definitely two quality individuals that could do an outstanding job as city manager for our city. To top it off, during the time both began their careers with the City of Coral Springs, Mike Goodrum was still in elementary school.

A further slap in the face to women

It was bad enough that they did not consider Bramley and Grant for the position of city manager, that they went out of their way to slap them both in the face.  When Erdal, the current city manager, leaves at the end of April, the city commissioners decided to put the the Chief of Police as the temporary city manager, even though he has no experience at running a city. However, he is a man.  I know, they must have had a hard time choosing between Bramley and Grant, two extremely competent individuals who already know how to manage this city. Deputy city managers require a police chief who know how to handle deputies. Certainly we can’t have any woman running our city.

Every man in the city commission can tell you that no woman should ever be a city manager. Look around the country. So few of them. They are not hungry enough.  They do not know how to make a name for themselves.

So why should we be any different?

This article has been edited since being published.