Saturday, June 23, 2018
News Roundup

Administrator finalist tells Hernando no, takes job in Tampa

BROOKSVILLE — Just days before interviews are scheduled, the only finalist with experience in Florida has dropped out of the running for the Hernando County administrator's job.

On Friday, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn announced that Robert Michael "Mike" Herr has been appointed as the city's new administrator of public works and utility services.

Herr, a former deputy administrator for Hernando as well as a former Polk County administrator, is president of Econ South, a private-sector engineering, development and management services firm. He was to be laid off in June for economic reasons.

That leaves Hernando with three finalists from which to choose: Ed Green, who most recently was the county manager for Garfield County, Colo.; Len Sossamon, who has extensive experience as a city manager and a county administrator in the Carolinas and has most recently been a developer; and James Wilson, who grew up in Florida and spent years in Galveston County, Texas, in a job similar to that of a county administrator.

Herr is the second finalist to drop out this week in Hernando. John Daly of Michigan dropped out earlier in the week, saying he didn't think the job was a good fit for him.

Colin Baenziger, who heads the search firm that brought the candidates to the commission, contacted commissioners Friday morning with the news.

Herr wrote to Baenziger: "I was very excited about the Hernando position, but in this economy a bird in the hand is far greater than an offer that may or may not happen."

Commission Chairman Wayne Dukes said he was concerned about the shrinking field. After he learned that Herr had been hired by Tampa, Dukes met with top county officials and asked interim county Administrator Ron Pianta whether he would be willing to continue filling in while the commission finds a permanent administrator.

Pianta said he would be, and Dukes said he was fine with going on with the interviews as planned next week.

Commissioner Jim Adkins said he also didn't have a problem with going ahead with the interviews. That is partially because Baenziger explained to Adkins that if none of the three meets the county's needs, he will do the search again at no cost. The commission spent $21,500 for Baenziger's services.

Commissioner Jeff Stabins said there was no reason to cancel the interviews.

"The times are scheduled anyway, and (Baenziger) has done a lot of hard work on this,'' he said.

The news of Herr's withdrawal disappointed Commissioner Dave Russell.

"He was my pick,'' Russell said, noting that he had heard from a number of community leaders who strongly supported Herr. "I remember my dad speaking highly of him."

Russell's father was a county commissioner during Herr's time with Hernando County.

"Tampa is getting a good department administrator,'' he said, noting that he couldn't blame Herr for making that choice, since the annual salary is $153,000.

Hernando County advertised its administrator salary at between $120,000 and $150,000, with the hope of hiring at the lower end of the range.

"It makes a statement to the people who say that we should hire an administrator on the cheap for less than $100,000,'' Russell said. "We're not going to find the type of person we need to lead this county for that.

"In this profession, you get what you pay for, and with the history here in this county, we're going to have to pay more.''

The position has had high turnover, and recent administrators have had to deal with several volatile political issues.

Russell said he agreed with Baenziger that going forward with the interviews was the right thing to do.

"We've got three viable candidates that Mr. Baenziger is confident can lead this county,'' Russell said. "I look forward to meeting and interviewing them.''

One-on-one interviews between individual commissioners and the finalists are planned for Wednesday morning. The board will conduct public interviews with each candidate in the commission chambers beginning at 2 p.m. Wednesday.

A public meet-and-greet with the finalists will be at the Hernando County Airport office at 5 p.m. Tuesday.

Barbara Behrendt can be reached at [email protected] or (352) 848-1434.

Comments
Oldsmar cheer coach faces new sexual battery charges

Oldsmar cheer coach faces new sexual battery charges

An Oldsmar cheerleading coach charged this week with sending explicit images to a minor now faces additional sexual battery charges.Victor Martin Valenty, 28, is accused of having "inappropriate sexual activity" with a 15-year-old at his home for mor...
Updated: 21 minutes ago
Migrants denied access to lawyers, held in cells 23 hours a day, ACLU lawsuit alleges

Migrants denied access to lawyers, held in cells 23 hours a day, ACLU lawsuit alleges

After crossing the U.S.-Mexico border seeking asylum, 123 men have been detained for weeks, caged in prison cells for up to 23 hours per day and denied access to attorneys at a federal detention center in Sheridan, Oregon, a lawsuit filed Friday by t...
Updated: 1 hour ago
First step for Hillsborough schools facing biggest challenges: Hire more teachers

First step for Hillsborough schools facing biggest challenges: Hire more teachers

TAMPA — As chief of diversity for the Hillsborough County School District, Minerva Spanner-Morrow tries to keep her expectations realistic."We want the best of the best and I know that’s very difficult," she told principals last week as they prepared...
Published: 06/23/18
Rodney Page’s takeaways from Rays-Yankees

Rodney Page’s takeaways from Rays-Yankees

1. SS Willy Adames had a nice night, and there appear to be many more in his future. He had two hits, an RBI and an inning-ending leaping catch on a line drive by Didi Gregorius in the fifth.2. DH C.J. Cron needs to shake things up. Take a different ...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Marc Anthony pays a visit to the Trop

Marc Anthony pays a visit to the Trop

By Allana BarefieldTimes Staff WriterST. PETERSBURG — Latin pop star Marc Anthony visited Tropicana Field on Friday to see his beloved Yankees play the Rays.Anthony spent nearly an hour on the field before the game as fans and players surrounde...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Rays journal: Daniel Robertson’s return crowds up infield

Rays journal: Daniel Robertson’s return crowds up infield

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays reinstated INF Daniel Robertson from the 10-day disabled list (left hamstring strain). To make room, RHP Austin Pruitt was sent to Triple-A Durham."It's out of my mind. I don't think about (the hamstring) when I'm bend...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Brady Singer, Gators eliminated by Arkansas at CWS

Brady Singer, Gators eliminated by Arkansas at CWS

Times wiresOMAHA, Neb.  —Defending champion Florida failed to win a third straight elimination game, losing to Arkansas 5-2 Friday night and departing the College World Series.The Gators (49-21) had to win to force a rematch. The Razorback...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Rays hang on for a 2-1 win over Yankees

Rays hang on for a 2-1 win over Yankees

ST. PETERSBURG – Many times this season the Rays' strategy of opening the game with a short reliever and using the bullpen to finish hasn't had much success.Friday wasn't one of those nights.A total of six pitchers held the Yankees and their va...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Rowdies fall to Penn FC

Rowdies fall to Penn FC

By Darek SharpTimes CorrespondentST. PETERSBURG — For the second time this season, Penn FC got two goals from a former Rowdie that led the way to a win over Tampa Bay.Lucky Mkosana doubled his season total Friday in a comeback 2-1 win before an...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Ronald Darby’s friend: Jameis Winston got into second Uber ride alone

Ronald Darby’s friend: Jameis Winston got into second Uber ride alone

New details emerged Friday night about the Uber ride in Arizona in March 2016 that led to Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston's three-game suspension to start the upcoming season, including the fact that Winston was in a car that night with a former Vand...
Published: 06/22/18