Saturday, June 16, 2018
News Roundup

City manager debate heats up in Kenneth City

KENNETH CITY — Most residents who spoke during a town meeting Wednesday said they oppose a proposal to hire a professional manager to run the town's government.

Many who opposed the idea said they saw no need for a manager. They, and others, were also worried about the possible cost.

The mayor and council have been solving problems without a manager, said John Case, but now they're telling residents they can't do the job.

"That upsets me," Case said.

Council member Wanda Dudley said the job is more complex than it looks and that complexity can prevent some people from running for office because they don't want to be responsible for the daily minutiae of operating a government. Changing the format, she said, could encourage more people to seek office.

"Our form of government is basically archaic," Dudley said.

Under Kenneth City's form of government, voters elect a mayor and four council members. The mayor acts as the fiscal officer of the town and each council member oversees the daily management of a town department, including police and public works.

It's a style of government that, as practiced by Kenneth City, has come under severe criticism since at least the early to mid 1990s when scandals and feuding among council members prompted a grand jury investigation. The grand jury issued a scathing report about the town government and suggested, among other things, that the town change its style of government to a council-manager form and hire a professional to run the government.

Successive councils have discussed the idea, but have always nixed it by saying the city could not afford a manager. Instead, the town has run through a succession of police chiefs and lurched through scandals and almost constant squabbling among council members. At times in the past, the government has been run more like a social club with the mayor, council members and police chiefs holding regular coffee klatches in town hall.

Council members have struggled with other issues, ranging from an inability to work together — for example, a council member in charge of buildings who can't get the council member in charge of public works to replace moldy ceiling tiles — to a lack of continuity — council members who begin a long-term project only to term out of office, lose an election, or decide not to run.

Those issues, and others, stirred a group of residents chosen to serve a charter review commission to suggest that it's time to go to a council-manager form of government. Under that format, voters would still elect a mayor and four council members who would be in charge of setting policy, passing a budget, hiring the town attorney and a manager. The manager would oversee daily activities of the town, make sure the policies set by the council were enforced and would have the hiring and firing say-so over all other employees.

The council agreed to give voters the choice of how they wanted their town run in the future. That choice will come on Nov. 5. Those who want a change will vote yes to a referendum item. Those who like Kenneth City as it is, should vote no.

"We've passed the task on to you," Mayor Teresa Zemaitis told the approximately 60 residents at Wednesday's meeting that had been called to answer questions about the proposal. "Council's not making this decision at all."

The proposal on the ballot would also usher in other changes to the town charter. Among those would be to eliminate the cap on salaries for the mayor and council members. Currently, the salary of the mayor is capped at $500 a month and council members at $300 a month. If the changes are approved, the cap would be eliminated and those salaries could be increased if a majority of the council voted to do so.

Anne Lindberg can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8450.

Comments

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., June 17, midday:xx xxx xxxxe_SRitxxxxxSun., June 17, evening:xx xxx xxxxe_SRitxxxxxFantasy 5Sunday...
Updated: 1 hour ago
They fled Puerto Rico with their possessions, which they lost last week in an apartment fire

They fled Puerto Rico with their possessions, which they lost last week in an apartment fire

RIVERVIEW — It was the most routine of errands, shopping for a cooler and some shorts.Joel Jaca and Arelys Gomez, both 40, had turned an important corner, miles away from hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico.They had finally gotten out of their relief hotel...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Peering into the crystal baseball to see what Rays could look like in 2019

Peering into the crystal baseball to see what Rays could look like in 2019

The Rays are still talking, as they should, about playing for something this season. The reality is that almost every move they've made, going back to the end of last season, and in some cases further, has been about 2019 and beyond.Clearing out vete...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Rays lose again to Yankees, this time 4-1

Rays lose again to Yankees, this time 4-1

NEW YORK — Kevin Cash was not going to go all Lou Piniella on his Rays, raging and ripping and roaring over their latest mess, a 4-1 Saturday loss to the Yankees that didn't feel that close.Which is too bad because Piniella, the volcanic former...
Updated: 3 hours ago

Updated: 3 hours ago
Mazzaro’s Italian Market closed after Friday night warehouse fire

Mazzaro’s Italian Market closed after Friday night warehouse fire

ST. PETERSBURG — Mazzaro’s Italian Market will be closed throughout the weekend after a warehouse fire broke out Friday.A St. Petersburg Police officer noticed smoke coming from the market at 22nd Ave. N around midnight Friday, said St. Petersburg F...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Catholic diocese celebrates 50 years in Tampa Bay and forges plan for the future

Catholic diocese celebrates 50 years in Tampa Bay and forges plan for the future

ST. PETERSBURG — At his installation as spiritual leader of Tampa Bay’s Catholics, Bishop Gregory Parkes promised to take time to get to know his people, listen to what they had to say and work to discern a plan for the future.On Sunday, 17 months la...
Updated: 5 hours ago
A fentanyl death. A crackdown on opioid dealers. Will it help?

A fentanyl death. A crackdown on opioid dealers. Will it help?

TAMPA — Loueita Hargens had known for years how her son Bradley Dykes would die. She had seen him cycle through drugs of choice, had lost track of the number of times he’d wound up in the hospital or prison.A recovering alcoholic herself, she cut him...
Updated: 6 hours ago
AP World History course is dropping thousands of years of human events - and critics are furious

AP World History course is dropping thousands of years of human events - and critics are furious

Since 2002, the AP World History course has covered thousands of years of human activity around the planet, starting 10,000 years back. But now the College Board, which owns the Advanced Placement program, wants to cut out most of that history and st...
Updated: 7 hours ago
A woman went to check her corn - and was swallowed by a python

A woman went to check her corn - and was swallowed by a python

For the second time in barely more than a year, an Indonesian villager has been swallowed whole by a python.Wa Tiba, 54, left her home on Muna island to visit her cornfield on Thursday night, according to the Jakarta Post.The field was about a half m...
Updated: 7 hours ago