Sunday, April 22, 2018
News Roundup

Ad for county administrator glosses over Hernando's flaws

All you prospective county administrators out there scanning the Web and thinking Hernando County might be a nice place to land — here's something important you should know.

The local economy is not, as the online recruitment copy states, "reasonably well-diversified."

In 2006 — the good times, mind you — economist William Fruth found that Hernando was so dependent on low-paying service and construction jobs that, considered as a separate metro region, its wages ranked dead last among cities nationwide.

Now, with the housing market collapsed, there is a glaring lack of any sector to take its place; as of December, the county's unemployment rate of 12.9 percent was the third-highest in the state.

If you read that original, relatively upbeat take on our economy, it means you found the website of Colin Baenziger & Associates — cb-asso.com — the headhunting firm hired to find a replacement for former County Administrator David Hamilton.

You have also seen the attached photographs: shimmering gulf sunsets, a lovingly restored historic home in Brooksville, kayaks floating on the utterly transparent water of the Weeki Wachee River.

True, Hernando can be a beautiful place. But for the complete picture, you should check out Spring Hill's lakes, which have been drained by pumping and a mysterious, if slight, long-term decline in rainfall. And you should see the Chinsegut Manor House, easily the most impressive historic home in the county, which, far from being lovingly restored, has been neglected so badly it is starting to shed rotten siding.

Another sight you might want to take in: one of the shabbier neighborhoods of Spring Hill, a formerly tidy retirement community. Along with the other unpleasant images I've recommended, this will cast doubt on Baenziger's assertion that our community's "most important" quality is that "the people of Hernando County care."

Some of them don't care enough to mow their lawns or haul away derelict pickups. Most of them don't care enough to pay a tax rate that would pay for adequate code enforcement or to maintain our increasingly trashy neighborhood parks. Recently, the nonpartisan Florida TaxWatch ranked Hernando third from the bottom among Florida counties when it came to "per capita total county and municipal government revenue."

I don't want to conform too closely to one of the downsides of Hernando that Baenziger identified: media that have "not helped the County build a positive image."

I just want to point out that Hernando, for all its good qualities, isn't the near-paradise portrayed by Baenziger, which is based in Palm Beach County.

Downtown Brooksville isn't especially rich in "antique stores and quaint eateries."

Other than an impressive concentration of Walmart Supercenters, there aren't that many "major department stores" where you can "indulge in retail therapy."

And when Baenziger notes that "cultural activities, fine dining, nightclubs, airports and cruise lines" can be found within an "easy drive," what that really means is that you have to drive, because there isn't exactly an abundance of such amenities in Hernando.

In fairness, the posting also says the job will be difficult, that the budget is shrinking, that the politics can be tricky, and, finally, it points out that "the county has had eight County Administrators since 1990."

Before the county hires anyone, the firm will meet with the serious candidates to talk more about what founder Colin Baenziger calls the job's "challenges," and the right candidate will see them that way — as challenges.

In that spirit, I'll come right out and say it: For county administrators, this place is a political snake pit.

If that sounds like your kind of challenge, the deadline for applications is Feb. 24.

Comments
Lightning Round 2 playoff tickets on sale Monday

Lightning Round 2 playoff tickets on sale Monday

Single-game tickets for the Lightning's Eastern Conference semifinal series go on sale to the general public at 1 p.m. Monday at nhl.com/lightning/tickets.The Lightning plays the winner of the Bruins-Maple Leafs series. Game 6 of that series is Monda...
Updated: 1 hour ago
How Baker Mayfield can benefit the Bucs

How Baker Mayfield can benefit the Bucs

TAMPA — The buzz surrounding this year's NFL draft is a class of talented quarterbacks deep enough to challenge the record six taken in the first round in 1983, a group that included future Hall of Famers John Elway, Jim Kelly and Dan Marino.Th...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Andrei Vasilevskiy and the universal language of playoff hockey

Andrei Vasilevskiy and the universal language of playoff hockey

TAMPA — As usual, Andrei Vasilevskiy didn't speak in front of the cameras after the game. He has been like that since he hit the NHL. He still isn't comfortable with his English on TV.But Vasilevskiy spoke loudly and clearly in the first-round ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Rays are suddenly swinging hot bats, but will it last?

Rays are suddenly swinging hot bats, but will it last?

ST. PETERSBURG — Good pitching and hitting go hand in glove, but the Rays did not look like a team that could swing the bats very well until this completed homestand.In their series sweep over the Twins, Tampa Bay scored 8, 10 and 8 runs. ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Rick Stroud’s takeaways from Rays-Twins

Rick Stroud’s takeaways from Rays-Twins

–Yonny Chirinos may be the Rays fourth starter, but it seems to be in name only. He was lifted after pitching 4 2/3 innings against the Twin on Sunday, the shortest start of his career and his second-shortest appearance.  "Going into the g...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Rays’ Carlos Gomez hits two-run walkoff homer to beat Twins for series sweep

Rays’ Carlos Gomez hits two-run walkoff homer to beat Twins for series sweep

ST. PETERSBURG — With every swing, there is a chance Carlos Gomez is going to do something extraordinary with the baseball bat.He may swing so violently that he spins himself into the ground as if he were an oil drill. Or, you could see him sna...
Updated: 4 hours ago

nationwideTravelers face delays as jet engines inspectedScores of Southwest Airlines travelers were facing delays or cancellations Sunday due to emergency inspections following the mid-air explosion of an engine on one of the airline’s 737s last week...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Waffle House hero says shooter would’ve had ‘to work to kill me’; another crude Theta Tau frat video surfaces at Syracuse; more in U.S. news

Waffle House hero says shooter would’ve had ‘to work to kill me’; another crude Theta Tau frat video surfaces at Syracuse; more in U.S. news

TennesseeShooter had ‘to work to kill me’The man who wrestled the gun away from the nearly naked Waffle House shooter in Nashville said Sunday if he were going to die, the gunman would "have to work to kill me." Police and Waffle House CEO Walter Ehm...
Updated: 4 hours ago

Lottery resultsNumbers drawn after 9 p.m. are no longer available by our deadlines. For results, please go to tampabay.com/lottery.Pick 2, 3, 4, 5Sun., April 22, midday:2-2 7-3-9 4-4-6-8e_SRit3-8-8-6-0Sun., April 22, evening:6-2 8-6-0 8-3-9-8e_SR...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Islamic State suicide bomber kills 57 in Afghan capital

Islamic State suicide bomber kills 57 in Afghan capital

Associated PressKABUL, Afghanistan — An Islamic State suicide bomber carried out an attack at a voter registration center in the capital Kabul on Sunday, killing 57 people and wounding more than 100 others, said officials from the Afghan interior and...
Updated: 5 hours ago