County manager Hankerson talks with Fulton Co.
by Jon Gillooly
April 16, 2013 12:25 AM | 4564 views | 15 15 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
David Hankerson
David Hankerson
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Cobb County Manager David Hankerson said he recently spent about 45 minutes in a private meeting with the Fulton County Board of Commissioners in which he was interviewed about taking the same job in Fulton.

Hankerson said the meeting, which took place about a week ago, was initiated after a search firm contacted him on the Fulton board’s behalf. No formal offer has yet been extended, although Hankerson expects the Fulton board will make a decision within the next few weeks.

As for whether Hankerson, 67, would accept Fulton’s offer if it were made, he would not say.

“I don’t know. That’s when the decision time has got to come,” he said.

Hankerson also wouldn’t say what would cause him to say “yes” to such an offer.

“I don’t know,” he said. “They’ve not talked specifics, contract, salary, nothing. There are a lot of factors you have to consider.”

A spokeswoman for Fulton County Board of Commissioners Chairman John Eaves said Eaves could not comment on the matter because it was a personnel issue.

Spokeswoman Bobbie Battista said, “The process of selecting a county manager isn’t complete yet. The short list of candidates will be made public very soon, however.”

The position of Fulton County manager opened when Zach Williams left the job to become chief operating officer of DeKalb County in December. As Fulton County manager, Williams received a base salary of $200,000.

Hankerson receives a base salary of $246,923. His total compensation as manager of Cobb County is $274,007.

Eligibility for retirement

Hankerson has been eligible to retire since December 1, 2003. Cobb Board of Commissioners Chairman Tim Lee said that means Hankerson could retire and begin collecting his pension, while being paid the new salary as Fulton County manager. That practice is known as “double dipping,” a term Lee said he doesn’t care for.

“I don’t like the term No. 1,” Lee said. “I think anyone that’s planned well for their career to have the opportunity to retire and get a retirement and still be young enough to take advantage of other employment opportunities to better advance their lifestyle and their priorities, I’m all for that. That is the American way.”

Hankerson has been Cobb’s manager since 1993. The current amendment to his contract was approved Jan. 27, 2011, and will expire Jan. 31, 2014.

Lee and commissioners Helen Goreham and JoAnn Birrell applauded the job Hankerson has done.

Goreham said a few years ago, Commissioner Bob Ott and then-Commissioner Thea Powell wanted to fire Hankerson.

“He and Thea Powell wanted to replace the county manager a couple years ago, I think, right as the recession was hitting,” Goreham said. “They said they wanted to, and they were looking for my vote, and I would not support it. I thought he was doing a good job, and they obviously had issues at that time, and I said if you have issues, then the process is to write him up and start the process.”

Goreham said this isn’t the first time Hankerson has told her he was eyeing another job.

“I want to say four years ago he brought it to my attention that Paulding County was courting him,” she said.

Yet Goreham cautioned against “jumping the gun” in thinking Hankerson was leaving Cobb.

“I don’t think he’s made it a formal declaration,” she said. “I think the news story is just starting to hit here. And again you’ve got to see what this gentleman wants. Does he want a change? Does he want a new challenge? Is it salary-based? Is it whatever?”

It’s up to Hankerson

Goreham, Lee, Birrell and Ott all said the decision is up to Hankerson whether to stay.

“As a member of the board, I would always appreciate kind of a little bit of notice instead of reading about it in the paper, but with that said, I think it’s a personal decision that the county manager has to make…,” Ott said. “Bottom line is it comes down to what is best for him and his family, and that’s not something for the board to second guess. That’s really up to him. If he is happy here, then I would be surprised to see him leave.”

In reference to Goreham’s comment about Ott wanting to replace Hankerson, Ott said it was a matter of whether the county should have both a full-time county manager and a full-time chairman.

As chairman, Lee is paid a base salary of $129,877.45, a travel salary of $7,200 and a “training/longevity” stipend of $1,354.35.

“Two years ago the issue came up relative to the fact we had a full-time chairman and a full-time county manager, which seems excessive relative to cost,” Ott said.

Hankerson said if there was a message he wanted Cobb residents to take away from his job proposal, it was that he’s happy where he is, but that it’s always good to keep an open mind about the future.

“I’ve had 20 good years of being in this position of serving the residents and the citizens of this county, and every year has been an enjoyable year, and I have no bad memories and also working with the best employees of any government or agency, public or private, I know,” Hankerson said. “We’ve got a great team here. That’s every manager’s dream.”

Hankerson also emphasized that Fulton County came to him.

“It’s not something I was out there actively pursuing, but I get them every two or three months,” he said. “When you’ve managed big governments as long as I have, and you’ve got a county that’s rated and respected by so many people, you’re going to be pursued, and that’s a good thing to be pursued rather than not being pursued.”

 
Comments
(15)
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Just Sayin'....
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April 18, 2013
Mr. Hankerson has played this game time and time again. Do you think he really wants the commute to Fulton? Do you think they would really entertain hiring a man who could retire at any time? Do you think they want someone who has really not done anything in his previous job? Do you think they want him at all? Let them have him. He will retire one way or another very soon anyway.
Old Man
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April 16, 2013
If Hankerson leaves the Public Safety Department will, at last, be able to be free of his constant meddling and being forced to promote his friends. A lot of good officers have left because, even though they were next on the list, Hankerson demanded someone else to be promoted. He has a lot of personal issues with the department and makes life Hell for them. Go Hankerson, please. Now the Chief and Director can run the department the right way.
Truth be told
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April 16, 2013
It's not just the Public Safety Department that has to deal with him promoting his friends. It happens in all departments. It's not what you know or how good of a job you are doing, it's who you know and if he likes you. Period....
sooo true
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April 16, 2013
Truth be told is EXACTLY right. Why do you think government employees are generally lethargic and apathetic. The average employee is tired of working their butts off to gain recognition and reward when it rarely ever comes. You loose out to the brother in laws daughter of the head honcho who also happens to be married to someone else well hooked in.

No nepotism policy... BS... Work for your a man at one department whose chief assistant is related to the head of another department.

The good ole boy network is strong. And I don't just mean good ole white boys. There are good ole groups from every walk of life.
Just Wait
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April 16, 2013
I will have no love loss if Hankerson leaves. Just please don't bring back Virgle Moon to replace him.
anonymous
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April 16, 2013
Virgie Moon was (and still is) the highest paid farce that ever was. Thankfully, his earning days are about over and someone else can move into his place that has a brain. Naw, ole' Virgie will try to milk it into his 90's and beyond.
Adios Ott
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April 16, 2013
Another indication Bob Ott has no idea what job he is in or how it works. Almost every city and county in the US has a manager and Bob Ott thinks there is overlap in Cobb - one of the largest counties in GA. If he were able to implement every crazy idea that came to his head Cobb would have been history ages ago. Arrogance and ignorance are no qualities I would like to see in my Commissioner, nor his assistant.
Flustrated
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April 16, 2013
Fulton County taxpayers, make sure to budget for overpriced donkeys and dump trucks. Oh, and don't forget, you will also need a Safety Village named after Mr. Hanky.
jj3x
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April 18, 2013
Don't forget the $10000.00 fake tree for the atrium of the safety village

Brad Marietta
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April 16, 2013
Hankerson has kept Cobb fiscally sound and lean, similar to goo corporate business models. If you compare him to other large county governments, Cobb is by far the leanest, flattest organization that you will find in this country. Those of you that want to see him go obviously have no clue as to how luck we are as taxpayers to have him here. Go online and look at NACo (National Association of Counties) and see for yourself. Trust me, you want a professional non-elected manager running the show, NOT an elected person who will be required to repay those that helped fund his campaign. Hankerson is highly sought after and will be very hard to replace. If he leaves, do not complain about whomever his replacement ends up being.
not true
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April 16, 2013
Hankerson is nothing but a overpaid person who uses his position to get what he wants from other departments. He needs to go! He is arrogant and takes trips with builders/contractors who want things from the county for example "Community Development" which is where he came from originally. He is just as political as Ott or any of the commissioners.
Please Go
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April 16, 2013
Fulton's loss will be Cobb's gain.
I16
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April 16, 2013
Mr. Hankerson, please don't leave Cobb, we love you and we need you.

I can't think of any one, whom could fill your shoes.

My you be blessed, in your decesion.
dustoff
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April 16, 2013
The County would have been better off without him. He is over paid, arrogant, and caused quite a few good employees to leave because of his my way or the highway style of management.

And he is a big Bill Byrne fan!!!

Nuff said!!!
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