DUNEDIN — The treasurer of the financially struggling Dunedin Country Club submitted a letter of resignation this week, citing disagreements with board members over the future of the club's management.
Jack Norton, a club board member who served as the lead negotiator with the city, sent an e-mail to club general manager Judy Campbell and four others on Sunday, saying he believed his future involvement would "serve as a distraction from the ultimate goal of a successful negotiation."
The St. Petersburg Times received the e-mail Friday from former Dunedin Mayor Bob Hackworth, a vocal supporter of the city's plan to install a professional management firm at the club.
"As you are very aware, I have clearly expressed my concern to the Board over the past many months about what I believe to be the Club's perilous financial condition, and my firm belief that unless we make some 'hard' decisions about how the Club will operate, our ability to continue operations into the future is highly suspect," Norton wrote.
He added that the City Commission "appears to be looking for a political solution to a financial problem."
"The public discussion by the Commission of my opinion that the Club could not perform financially under the new agreement, much less the current one, has cast serious doubt by many Club members about my commitment to the Board's stated goal of continued independence from the City," Norton wrote. "I can only guess what the members of the Commission might be wondering about my sincerity in representing the Club in our discussions.
"In an article in Saturday (July 4) morning's St. Petersburg Times, (Dunedin City Manager) Rob DiSpirito reiterated my 'repeated acknowledgement' that I didn't think the Club could perform financially under the new licensing agreement. This only further reinforces my position as being inconsistent with the Board's stated intent."
DiSpirito said he received the resignation letter Thursday from Norton.
"I think the e-mail certainly confirms in writing what I said at the commission meeting, about what Jack has been saying to us, about what changed everything," DiSpirito said. "Their negotiator, their treasurer, Jack, indicating he didn't think the club could perform under that agreement financially. I certainly think he made that point in abundance."
DiSpirito reaffirmed what Mayor Dave Eggers and commissioners said last week about working together with the club. Some "folks on the outside" have pushed for a city-club conflict, he said, that doesn't exist.
"We've had very collegial discussions all the way to this point," DiSpirito said. "Even now, it's not uncollegial. We're trying to find an option that works."
Reached Friday, Norton said he preferred not to discuss the letter.
"I don't do business in the newspaper. It's a board issue, and I don't air board issues in the newspaper," Norton said. "I'm a member of a board, and this is board business, and I'll discuss it with the board."
Neither Campbell nor club general manager Debbie Logerquist could be reached Friday.
Drew Harwell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 445-4170.