Birmingham City Council attempted to persuade American Valerie Lemmie to become its chief executive by offering a lucrative "golden handcuffs" deal worth #560,000.
Ms Lemmie (pictured) would have been guaranteed absolute job security for three-and-a-half years and could only have been sacked if an independent inquiry found her guilty of gross misconduct - an unheard of event in local government.
Council leaders promised other inducements in what turned out to be a failed attempt to convince Ms Lemmie, a city manager in Dayton, Ohio, to take the #160,000-ayear job in December 2001.
A proposed recruitment package included:
* Free access to consultants to advise Ms Lemmie on her move to Birmingham; n Free tax planning advice and private health care;
* A lump sum in excess of #20,000 to cover relocation costs;
* A top-of-the-range MG Roadster car.
All aspects of the job offer, with the sole exception of the #160,000 salary, were to be open to negotiation and Ms Lemmie was told she would not be out of pocket in arranging suitable private health care.
Increasingly frenetic attempts to convince Ms Lemmie to take the job are revealed in copies of email correspondence released to The Birmingham Post under the Freedom of Information Act.
Her appointment - heralded as the first minority ethnic American female chief executive of a UK council - was announced on December 12 2001 and attracted favourable national and international media coverage.
A week later, red-faced council officials announced that 49-year-old Ms Lemmie would not be coming after all.
Uncertain about what to do, she cracked under intense media pressure, the correspondence reveals.
The email trail sheds light on a dramatic transatlantic flight by Pricewaterhouse-Coopers executive Hamish Davidson to Dayton in an attempt to talk Ms Lemmie into taking the job.
PWC were paid #55,000 by the council to headhunt a chief executive.
Mr Davidson, who encountered a "tearful" Ms Lemmie at dinner when she confirmed her intention to remain in the US, emailed city council acting chief executive Stewart Dobson: "She has been trying to get her personal life back on track and give more time to family and keep marriage together...whilst her head says she should take the job, her heart says no."
In the days following the announcement of Ms Lemmie's "appointment", when it became clear she was considering changing her mind and remaining at Dayton, PWC and council officials sent emails attempting to reassure her about the cost of living in the Midlands.
Ms Lemmie quit her job at Dayton in January 2002, to become city manager of Cincinnati. It later transpired she had been shortlisted when she verbally accepted the Birmingham offer.
Lin Homer became chief executive of Birmingham City Council in October 2002.