Sunday, October 21, 2018
News Roundup

Romano: Come to Madeira Beach for the sand, sun and scorn

Forgive the folks in Madeira Beach for not yet updating the FAQs portion of their website. They’ve been quite busy lately, which might explain why three of the five commissioners listed are no longer in office.

Or maybe it’s just a nod to less complicated times.

You know, before the lawsuits.

And mid-meeting resignations.

And ethics complaints.

And recall petitions.

And death threats.

And terminations.

"It’s been an absolute mess,’’ said Derryl O’Neal, "and it all boils down to politics.’’

O’Neal would know. In the past year, he resigned as the fire chief to become the city manager and then resigned that post, too. He was recently rehired as both the fire chief and the interim city manager.

Which means, technically, he is his own supervisor.

And from where he sits — in either desk, one presumes — the messiness is finally being swept away.

The city has recently come to an agreement on disputes over redevelopment projects that had made the city look like a banana republic with higher condo fees.

"My whole goal has been to see the city move forward,’’ said O’Neal, who managed to stay largely above the fray. "It was distressing to see so many people divided, neighbors against neighbors. We’re finally ready to break ground, move forward and stay positive.’’

Yes, but not quite.

The hotel and development proposals that led to all this animosity were resolved, albeit at the same time as one of the lawsuits. The developer agreed to scale down the size of the planned hotels and condos, alleviating some of the concern about congestion and a cluttered skyline.

But the recall efforts of two city commissioners continue to move forward. The first round of petitions were filed with the county’s supervisor of elections, and residents will presumably draw up a second set of petitions after commissioners offer their written defenses. If 15 percent of registered voters sign the second petition, a recall election would follow sometime next year.

If it comes to pass, it would be the final — but not the nuttiest — chapter in this saga. Or, to quote Pat Shontz when she retired as vice mayor in the middle of a commission meeting in June 2016:

"I have never seen (such) vicious, nasty, disrespectful people,’’ said Shontz, who passed away seven months later.

The Shontz resignation was the beginning of what might kindly be described as unrest in city government. Her appointed replacement was later removed from office when it was determined the city violated Sunshine Laws in naming him to the commission. Another commissioner resigned six months after Shontz. The incumbent mayor lost his seat three months after that.

Meanwhile, City Manager Shane Crawford was suspended for reasons that were never quite clear and endured a series telephoned death threats.

His wife, who doubled as city clerk, was fired ostensibly because she wasn’t a certified clerk. Which seems kind of odd considering the city later advertised for a replacement clerk, but the job listing didn’t specify that certification was needed.

O’Neal agreed to step in as city manager, but only if it didn’t affect his status in the state’s Deferred Retirement Option Program. Weeks after being assured his retirement was secure, state officials notified O’Neal that he would no longer receive payments in the DROP program.

So O’Neal resigned as city manager, was reappointed as fire chief, and then resumed the duties of the interim city manager until a permanent replacement could be found.

Applications for the city manager’s job will be accepted until Dec. 31, and O’Neal is hopeful his replacement will be found early in 2018.

After all, who wouldn’t want that job?

Comments
Jacksonville shooting: 6 shot, 3 in critical condition near Jaguars stadium

Jacksonville shooting: 6 shot, 3 in critical condition near Jaguars stadium

JACKSONVILLE — Six people have been shot a few blocks from an NFL stadium in Jacksonville, and three are in critical condition, authorities reported.Shots broke out Sunday afternoon at the intersection of A Philip Randolph Boulevard and Pippin Street...
Updated: 7 minutes ago
AP Top 25: Florida Gators in top 10, USF remains steady

AP Top 25: Florida Gators in top 10, USF remains steady

The Florida Gators moved up two spots to No. 9 in the latest AP Top 25 poll released Sunday. That's their highest ranking since 2015 and sets up a top-10 showdown Saturday against No. 7 Georgia. It'll be the first top-10 matchup between the two rival...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Former Gulf star Alton Voss bringing cautionary tale back home

Former Gulf star Alton Voss bringing cautionary tale back home

Contrary to conventional logic, former Gulf High three-way star Alton Voss lived to tell about his downward spiral into drug addiction.This week, he'll tell it to Pasco County students.Voss, a onetime USF signee who resurrected his career (and earned...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Matt Baker’s AP Top 25 ballot: Florida Gators over Ohio State

Matt Baker’s AP Top 25 ballot: Florida Gators over Ohio State

Coming up with my weekly AP Top 25 ballot, I'm always faced with new questions I never considered.Like this one, from 247Sports' excellent Gators writer, Thomas Goldkamp:Does Florida move past Ohio State in this week’s rankings? Legit question....
Updated: 3 hours ago
FHP: Pinellas driver flips car multiple times, suffers serious injuries

FHP: Pinellas driver flips car multiple times, suffers serious injuries

PALM HARBOR — A driver flipped his car multiple times and suffered serious injuries early Sunday morning, troopers reported.About 1:44 a.m., Oshane Ryan Porrey, 27, was driving a Kia Forte northbound on Belcher Road, according to the Florida Highway ...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Driver dead in single-car crash in Riverview, deputies say

Driver dead in single-car crash in Riverview, deputies say

RIVERVIEW — A driver in a single-car crash early Sunday morning, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.About 1:20 a.m., deputies found the driver unresponsive, after his car crashed into a chain link fence and power pole.No one else w...
Updated: 4 hours ago
FHP: Pedestrian, 70, hit and killed in Brandon

FHP: Pedestrian, 70, hit and killed in Brandon

BRANDON — A 70-year-old woman was hit and killed crossing State Road 60 on Saturday night, troopers reported.Mary J. Philip, of New Port Richey, was walking across the road near Mount Carmel Road about 11:11 p.m., according to the Florida Highway Pat...
Updated: 4 hours ago
TPD: Man driving wrong way on Selmon Expressway with lights off kills 68-year-old

TPD: Man driving wrong way on Selmon Expressway with lights off kills 68-year-old

TAMPA — Police said a man driving recklessly and affected by alcohol headed the wrong way on the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway and hit and killed another driver early Sunday morning.Shortly after midnight, Stephen Joseph Paleveda, 27, was driving a Ford ...
Updated: 4 hours ago
FHP: Pedestrian, 87, hit and killed crossing State Road 52

FHP: Pedestrian, 87, hit and killed crossing State Road 52

PORT RICHEY — A driver hit and killed a pedestrian on State Road 52 near Bayonet Point, troopers reported.About 5:49 p.m., the pedestrian, 87-year-old Daniel William Troy, was walking north across the road, east of Meadow Drive.At the same time, Chri...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Sunday Morning Quarterback: Plant City makes things interesting

Sunday Morning Quarterback: Plant City makes things interesting

Highlights from Week 9:Player of the WeekTre'Pavis Mobley, Zephyrhills: The playmaker usually has the biggest impact on offense as a receiver. On Friday, he shined on defense, picking off two passes and swatting away two others to help the Bulldogs b...
Updated: 6 hours ago