Make us your home page
Instagram

Head of Pasco Economic Development Council resigns

LUTZ — As a key player in sensitive business deals, Mary Jane Stanley practiced the art of playing her cards close to her vest.

On Tuesday, she left the county-funded Pasco Economic Development Council the same way she led it.

Discreetly.

Saying she was ready for new challenges after a decade at the helm, Stanley submitted a resignation letter to the council's board, which voted to accept it in a closed, nearly 1 1/2-hour meeting.

The board approved a severance package for Stanley, who made $110,323 a year. Board chairman Stew Gibbons declined to reveal the details.

The board's emergency meeting came amid rumors that some board members were ready to oust Stanley from her job as chief executive officer for reasons that weren't clear. The board's executive committee met late last week, though Gibbons would not say what action it took.

Her tenure had been relatively free of public controversy, and she is credited with playing a role in most of the industry relocations to the county, including the proposed T. Rowe Price project in Land O'Lakes. Last year, the Florida Economic Development Council named her the 2008 Eunice Sullivan Economic Development Professional of the Year.

The most recent criticism of Stanley involved unflattering remarks she made to a business publication about Pasco's permitting process. ("We have a bad reputation," she told the Maddux Business Report. "Trying to get a permit is horrible.")

The EDC gets money from Pasco County — this year, nearly half of its $930,000 budget — to promote the county as a place to do business and to recruit firms with higher paying jobs. Some county officials were miffed that someone in Stanley's position would make such public comments.

On Tuesday Stanley declined to address any criticisms board members may have had. She said that the decision to leave was her own and that she submitted her resignation letter over the weekend.

"I had committed to staying in Pasco for 10 years," she said. "It's time for me to have some different challenges. I feel like I've put it (the organization) in a really good place."

Gibbons declined to provide details about Stanley's departure, saying it was on good terms.

"She's made significant contributions … and we respect her decision to move on at this time," said Gibbons, president of Connerton, a large residential community in central Pasco.

Gibbons would not say whether board members had contemplated firing Stanley, calling the organization a private foundation.

"Part of the underpinnings of a private organization is being able to conduct its affairs in private," he said.

He declined to say whether Stanley's public remarks about the county's permitting office had any role in her departure. He said no one from outside the agency, including the public officials who hold the purse strings, had asked for any leadership changes.

"I don't think there was any pressure to make changes," Gibbons said. "The opinions of the stakeholders are always important, and the county is obviously one of our biggest stakeholders."

He declined to say whether the board's vote Tuesday had been unanimous but said it was a "definite consensus."

John Walsh, the second in command at EDC, will serve as interim CEO and is a candidate for the permanent position, Gibbons said.

Stanley's departure comes at a pivotal moment for the EDC, which is at the beginning of a six-year campaign, called New Pasco, to change the way it does business.

The organization is going after higher-level investors and creating a new governance model that puts a sharper focus on key business advisers who will come up with new, more aggressive ideas for attracting companies to Pasco.

Stanley is also leaving just days after her counterpart at the Pasco Hernando Jobs and Education Partnership, Lee Ellzey, got booted by his board following a state investigation of his agency.

Ellzey served on the EDC board, and Stanley on the partnership board. She initially abstained on voting on his firing, citing legal advice about a conflict of interest, but later voted with the board to dismiss him.

Stanley said she and her husband, Michael, a college instructor, plan to stay in Pasco County, which is about halfway between relatives in Tallahassee and Fort Lauderdale.

Saying she needs a break from 60-hour workweeks, Stanley plans to take a trip to Germany to visit her mother's family. When she comes back, she said she'll start looking for consulting work.

"You get to a point where you just get worn out," she said. "I submitted my resignation knowing it was time."

Jodie Tillman can be reached at jtillman@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6247.

Head of Pasco Economic Development Council resigns 06/30/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 30, 2009 8:39pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Author Randy Wayne White could open St. Pete's biggest restaurant on the pier

    Food & Dining

    ST. PETERSBURG — The story begins with Yucatan shrimp.

    St. Petersburg Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin, pilot Mark Futch, Boca Grande, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, and author and businessman Randy Wayne White,  Sanibel, exit a Maule Super Rocket seaplane after taking a fight around Tampa Bay off the St. Petersburg waterfront, 6/28/17.  White and his business partners are in negotiations with the City of St. Petersburg to build a fourth Doc Ford's Rum Bar & Grille on the approach to the St. Petersburg Pier with a second event space on the pier according to White. The group met near Spa Beach after a ground breaking ceremony for the new pier. "We want to have our business open by the time the pier opens," said White. Other Dr. Ford restaurants are located on Sanibel, Captiva and Ft. Myers Beach. SCOTT KEELER   |   Times
  2. Guilty plea for WellCare Health Plans former counsel Thaddeus Bereday

    Business

    Former WellCare Health Plans general counsel Thaddeus M.S. Bereday pleaded guilty to one count of making a false statement to the Florida Medicaid program, and faces a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison. A sentencing date has not yet been set, acting U.S. Attorney W. Stephen Muldrow of the Middle District …

    WellCare Health Plans former general counsel Thaddeus M.S. Bereday, pleaded guilty to one count of making a false statement to the Florida Medicaid program, and faces a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison. A sentencing date has not yet been set, acting U.S. Attorney W. Stephen Muldrow of the Middle District of Florida stated Wednesday. [LinkedIn handout]
  3. DOT shows alternatives to former Tampa Bay Express toll lanes

    Transportation

    TAMPA — State transportation officials are evaluating at least a half-dozen alternatives to the controversial Tampa Bay interstate plan that they will workshop with the community for the next 18 months.

    Florida Department of Transportation consultant Brad Flom explains potential alternatives to adding toll lanes to Interstate 275 during a meeting Wednesday at DOT's Tampa office. Flom presented seven diagrams, all of which swapped toll lanes for transit, such as light rail or express bus, in the I-275 corridor from downtown Tampa to Bearss Ave. [CAITLIN JOHNSTON | Times]
  4. Claim: State pressured CFO, used secret recordings to shut down Universal Health Care

    Banking

    ST. PETERSBURG — The founder of St. Petersburg's Universal Health Care alleges that Florida regulators conspired with the company's chief financial officer to drive the once high-flying Medicare insurer out of business.

    Federal agents raided the headquarters of Universal Health Care in 2013, ordering employees to leave the building. The insolvent St. Petersburg Medicare insurer was then in the process of being liquidated by state regulators.
[DIRK SHADD   |   Times file photo]

  5. Aramis Ayala defends stance against death penalty: 'I did what I believe was proper'

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Orlando prosecutor Aramis Ayala on Wednesday defended her "absolute discretion" to never seek the death penalty in murder cases, as skeptical justices of the Florida Supreme Court bombarded her lawyer with sharp questions.

    Orlando prosecutor Aramis Ayala, far right, said she was "very well pleased" with her lawyer's case. "I violated no laws." [STEVE BOUSQUET | Times]