Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Appointment of former mayor to Dunedin advisory board draws protest

DUNEDIN — Everyone agrees that former Dunedin Mayor, Commissioner and state Rep. Tom Anderson will do a great job in his role as the newest member of Dunedin's Board of Finance.

But not everyone — including two residents who have resigned their positions on four other citizen advisory boards — approves of how he got there.

Controversy has erupted since last week's 3-2 vote by the Dunedin City Commission to appoint Anderson to the finance board, a group of 13 volunteers that advises the commission and city manager on budget proposals and other financial matters.

Under the normal appointment process for a city advisory board, the members review applications from individuals who want to fill board vacancies, then recommend their top pick to the City Commission. Commissioners make the appointment.

But last week, Commissioner David Carson made a motion to immediately appoint Anderson to one of two finance board vacancies, circumventing the board's desire to vet eight potential applicants itself.

"Going through these years of turmoil with the budget, I think his experience and knowledge would be a huge asset to this city," Carson said. "There are two seats open on that board. To appoint one at this time I don't think is that big of a deal."

Vice Mayor Ron Barnette and Commissioner Julie Scales voted no. Both agreed that Anderson would make a "terrific" addition to the board. However, they declined to set a precedent and disregard members' wishes when, they said, Anderson could still attend meetings and offer his expertise.

"This is a big deal, really, because we have established processes that ensure all people are fairly considered and that the group that they'll be working with has reviewed and had their input," Scales said. "These are volunteers and I don't think we should show disrespect for them or for the process."

Records show the first Board of Finance position has been open since October. The second opened when a member resigned in early June.

Applicants, who filed their paperwork between June 2011 and May 2012, include a retired real estate agent, a former bank director, a retired accountant, a nurse anesthetist, a general contractor, and Manny Koutsourais, a retired pharmacist and former Dunedin mayor.

Mayor Dave Eggers said he was disappointed the positions had been open so long, and that it was a rare opportunity to find an experienced applicant like Anderson who could give a "bird's-eye view" of the budget and a short learning curve.

In a June 14 letter to the commission, board chairman John Tornga said the group hadn't been able to consider replacements because of the increased workload while reviewing Dunedin's proposed 2013 budget and the difficulty in coordinating the 11 existing board members' schedules.

"It was also felt that we could complete our tasks with the current members," he wrote.

The board, he wrote, has been "rather deliberate" in its selection of members, which includes interviews. He asked that members be allowed to follow their normal selection process after they submitted their budget report around June 21 — the date the commission appointed Anderson.

Tornga did not return a call seeking comment Wednesday.

Anderson — who has master's degrees in business and finance, worked for years as a management consultant, and is already active on the city's aging committee — will finish a three-year term that expires in October.

In an interview Wednesday with the Tampa Bay Times, Anderson said he didn't realize there were other candidates and was surprised when Carson intervened on his behalf. Backlash over the commission's decision surprised him even more.

"One of the comments made was that they didn't want to change the process. But every rule that's made, there are exceptions made to it. And the city commission votes on making exceptions all the time," he said. He referenced this month's debate over whether commissioners should invoke a new procedure that allows elected leaders to take decision-making authority about certain home construction projects away from city staff.

"That was even a more serious exception, in my opinion," said Anderson, who added that he believes he likely would have been selected for the finance board position under the normal process anyway: "Why would you want to wait four months if you're going to have the same decision?"

That explanation doesn't placate David Pauley, a longtime member of Dunedin's Code Enforcement Board and Local Planning Agency, and Norma Tillges, who served nine years on the Marina Advisory Committee, spent more than six years on the Community Redevelopment Agency Advisory Committee, and even worked on Anderson's Tallahassee campaign.

Both resigned their board positions last week. They said they respect Anderson, admire his contributions to the community and agree that he is qualified and likely will make a good finance board member.

"But the process didn't happen. That's my problem," Pauley said, adding that he felt his June 21 resignation was the only way to get his point across.

"This has happened in the past, where they've gone over the board's recommendations, and I think it's complete disrespect for the chairpeople, for the committees, and for the applicants that are on file for any committee," he said. "How would you feel if you're someone who sat there for two years to be considered and your name isn't even brought up at the meeting?"

Keyonna Summers can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 445-4153. To write a letter to the editor, go to

Appointment of former mayor to Dunedin advisory board draws protest 06/27/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 27, 2012 7:45pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Tallest building in Pinellas County in search of a new name

    Real Estate

    ST. PETERSBURG — The name "Priatek" is gone from Pinellas County's tallest building, perhaps to be replaced by that of a much better-known company new to the Tampa Bay area.

    The Priatek name is off of downtown St. Petersburg's tallest building.
 [LARA CERRI  |   Times.  2015]
  2. Video: The scene in Seminole Heights at the sites of three killings


    Tampa police have blanketed the Southeast Seminole Heights neighborhood during their investigation of three shooting deaths over 11 days that they believe to be related.

    Balloons and candles seen along 15th Street where Anthony Naiboa, 20, was found dead on Oct. 19, photographed in Southeast Seminole Heights in Tampa on Monday, Oct. 23, 2017. Three shooting deaths in the area in the last two weeks are considered by police to be related.
  3. FBI: Florida man sympathized with IS, wanted to bomb mall


    MIAMI (AP) — A Florida man who described himself as a sympathizer of the Islamic State extremist group faces terrorism-related charges stemming from a purported plot to bomb a Miami-area shopping mall, according to court documents filed Monday.

    An undated file image posted on an extremist website on Jan. 14, 2014, shows fighters from the Islamic State group marching in Raqqa, Syria. The group champions a hyper-religious lifestyle grounded in a self-proclaimed caliphate, but most recruits have a superficial understanding of religion and are largely ignorant in the laws of Islam. [Militant photo, via Associated Press]
  4. Frog Pond restaurant opens new location in downtown St. Petersburg


    There's a new option for breakfast and lunch in downtown St. Petersburg.

    Frog Pond's original location, seen here in 2006, has been open in North Redington Beach for 35 years. A new Frog Pond restaurant opened in St. Petersburg this week.
  5. Estuary wins pier design contest for the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway extension

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — And the winner is… Estuary.

    Voters overwhelmingly supported a pier design called Estuary for the $200-million extension of the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway in Tampa.
[Courtesy of AECOM]