Geneva Believer has received a report identifying the alleged front-runner in the city manager search. The reported candidate has held four city manager jobs over the past twenty-five years, and left each job under a cloud of controversy, with accusations of harassment, discrimination, misconduct and racism over his career.
According to sources with knowledge of the secretive Geneva city manager search, Richard “Rick” Finn, most recently the city manager of Bay City, Michigan, is currently the number one choice of city council to be named the new city manager, and the third confidential candidate identified by Geneva Believer. Finn has resigned while under heavy criticism from every city manager job he has ever held, facing serious allegations of misconduct each time.
- Finn served as a city manager in four cities in the last twenty-five years, an average of three years and nine months per job.
- Finn has been accused by numerous city employees of “bullying” and “harassment” and being “belligerent,” “disrespectful,” “unprofessional,” a “dictator,” and a “liar.” Finn has also been accused of participating in a culture of retaliation against employees who complain of mistreatment, forcing many of those employees to leave their jobs.
- Finn helped push through a construction project at a public riverfront park even though the project was strongly opposed by both the public and the city planning commission.
- Finn’s lack of responsiveness and failure to negotiate in good faith with the city unions in one city prompted dozens of union members to protest outside his office.
- Finn has been named in two racial discrimination suits, was accused of making a racist statement on video which was never released to the public, and faced allegations of fostering an environment of racial discrimination in one city by ignoring numerous complaints.
- Finn has been repeatedly accused of failing to return phone calls or emails, or respond to concerns from organizations and individuals in the communities where he worked.
- Finn has been investigated and suspended for ethics violations, accused of trying to manipulate official study data, and faced criticism for his handling of a construction project.
- A single mother with three children accused Finn of threatening to have her children taken away if she refused to move out of her rented home, which was being demolished by the county to make room for a fire house parking lot.
Who is Rick Finn?
Here is a summary of Finn’s career as a city manager:
(1993-1998) SANDUSKY, OH
- In January 1996, Rick Finn was paid over $400 by Resource Management Associates for helping to select a new police chief in another city. A month later the company was hired to do a $4,200 study for the city of Sandusky’s police department. Finn was suspended for five days. The Ohio Ethics Commission soon began investigating. In September 1997, a grand jury reviewed the case but did not indict Finn.
- In April 1998, two city commissioners investigated a rash of city employee resignations. Seven or eight key people, including the city planner and community development director, had left their jobs with the city. Exit interviews found that the former employees were upset with Finn and that Finn couldn’t do his job effectively. Finn was called a “dictator” and a “liar.”
- Questions about Finn’s weekly breakfast meetings were also raised in April, which legal consultants said were legal but “had the appearance of violating the spirit of open meetings laws.”
Rick Finn was forced to resign or be fired from his city manager job in Sandusky OH on May 26 1998.
(1999-2004) TAKOMA PARK, MD
- When Rick Finn was hired as city manager of Takoma Park in 1999, a council-mandated staff-supported community planning effort called “Takoma 2010” had just completed a multi-year study based on data gathered at town meetings attended by hundreds of homeowners and tenant groups. When Finn arrived, the “Takoma 2010” city support staff left or were fired, citizen committees were marginalized, and Finn and the city began pushing for a new community center, which was never identified as a high priority of the community-driven “Takoma 2010” study.
- In April 2002, Montogomery County had begun proceedings to demolish two houses and evict six residents to build a parking lot for a new fire house in Takoma Park. One of the residents was Nevella Malloy, who lived with her three children with no electricity while she waited to be evicted.
Malloy told the Washington Post that Rick Finn “told her that if she didn’t leave, he’d seek to have her children taken from her.” Finn did not return calls to the newspaper, but later denied making the threat.
- As Finn faced increasing accusations and criticism for “the cost-overruns and lack of transparency” related to his handling of the community center construction project, he submitted his resignation in September 2003, effective July 11 2004. Finn would also continue to work for the city on an as-needed basis after his July 11 resignation.
The Mayor of Takoma Park said that Finn was “very interested in staying through until the end of the construction of the community center.”
But when Finn left the job on July 11th, the Takoma Park City council approved an amendment to the original contract which removed Finn from having any oversight of the community center construction project.
(2009-2011) PEEKSKILL, NY
- In the late summer/early fall of 2010, increasing numbers of community members were speaking during Peekskill Common Council meetings and leveling allegations of racism and other misconduct in the Peekskill Department of Public Works, Peekskill Police Department, and Peekskill Housing Authority.
- Citizens continued to bring their concerns to Common Council in early 2011. One resident presented a study tracking council’s lack of action related to public complaints lodged at four months of council meetings. Rick Finn responded to parts the study, stating that the city was not “in the wrong” and that “the allegations are all false.”
- In May 2011, Finn was accused of making a racist statement during a training session for city employees. The city did not release the video of the comment, instead providing a transcript of the training session comments during a press conference by Finn, when he denied the accusation. Finn threatened to possibly pursue legal action against the city residents who accused him of racism. Council reviewed the video in executive session and determined that Finn’s comments were not racist.
A FOIL request for the video was denied by the city. However, in the opinion of Executive Director Robert Freeman of New York State’s Committee on Open Government, the video should have been made public according to Freedom of Information Law.
- In August 2011, several dozen members of city’s unions, including public works, police and fire union members, “rallied outside of City Hall and accused Finn of not bargaining in good faith.” Union members expressed frustration with the “lack of communication with “City Manager Rick Finn, in particular, in regards to grievances and contract negotiations.”
- The September 2011 Common Council meeting marked one year of residents attending “almost every Council meeting with complaints of racism (and) complaints of retaliation against city staff by city management.”
- On December 3 2011, Rick Finn submitted his resignation to the Peekskill Common Council, effective December 31, 2011.
According to the Peekskill Daily Voice:
Finn had been criticized by some residents at recent public hearing for being unresponsive to their phone calls and letters, and has been harshly criticized by area activist Darrell Davis of the Peekskill Committee for Justice for not taking complaints of racial discrimination seriously. Davis called for Finn’s resignation in May.
“This is long overdue,” Davis said Saturday of Finn’s resignation. Davis said Finn has been part of a pattern of “bullying and retaliation” towards employees who complain about unfair treatment and said he felt vindicated by the resignation.
When Finn left the Peekskill job, he was making $168,000 per year.
- In his final media interview as Peekskill city manager, Finn again denied accusations of racial discrimination within the city’s workforce by citing a report by human resources consultants which found that “city employees feel there is more favoritism than racism in the workplace.”
(2014-2017) BAY CITY, MI
- In 2014, Finn met with the Bay City Downtown Development Authority and came up with a plan to build a new pavilion and skating rink in Wenonah Park, one of the most heavily-used parks and one of the few remaining public downtown green spaces in Bay City, with views along the Saginaw River shoreline.
- In October 2016, a public forum was held and more than 125 residents showed up to give feedback on the recently unveiled Wenonah Park riverfront pavilion and ice rink plan.
- In January 2017, the Bay City Planning Commission voted 6-1 against the pavilion project, saying it was the wrong location for a pavilion, and pointed to the majority of public opinion against the project at a four-hour public meeting.
- In March 2017, the Bay City Commission voted 6-1 to override the Planning Commission’s decision and build the pavilion at the riverfront park in spite of the strong public opposition.
- In May 2018, Nickless Family Community Pavilion at Wenonah Park opened.
- In June 2015, the Bay City economic development director, Patti Stowell unexpectedly retired after seventeen years in the position. She said in her retirement letter than she had been verbally attacked by Finn in a “belligerent, disrespectful and unprofessional manner” during a meeting, and later the same day in front of two co-workers. She called City Hall a “hostile work environment.”
- In August 2015, the former manager of a local event center filed a federal discrimination lawsuit against Finn and Bay City law enforcement officials. Choice Causey filed the suit, alleging that the police and Finn pressured the facility’s owner to fire him because he is black.
- In October 2016, Bay City Commissioners voted not to renew Finn’s contract in June 2017.
- In February 2017, Finn announced that he would be leaving the city manager job in June.
- In March 2017, the Bay City director of public works, Bill Bohlen, accused Finn of pressuring him to change data on a solid waste study. He said Finn kept pushing to have the city’s fiscal services director “work his magic” on the numbers so they would fall within the range Finn wanted. The Bay City Commission investigated and found “no wrongdoing,” and Finn called Bohlen’s accusations a “total misunderstanding.”
- Shortly after Finn’s departure in June 2017, a finalist who was not hired for a human resources job with Bay City filed a federal racial discrimination lawsuit against the city, alleging he wasn’t hired because he is black. An investigation by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission had already determined Dreyon Wynn was denied employment because of his race in early 2016 when Rick Finn and the Deputy City Manager hired a white woman for the job.
Do You Want Rick Finn as Our Next City Manager?
Contact City Council today and tell them what you think their top candidate for city manager, Rick Finn.
The selection of a new city manager is expected to be made by city council within weeks.
You can show up on the steps of City Hall before City Council’s next executive session when they discuss the city manager search on Tuesday, July 10 at 6:00pm, and let them know what you think in person.
And if you want to see Sage Gerling as our new city manager, sign the petition here: