Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Enthusiastic crowd welcomes back former Safety Harbor city manager

SAFETY HARBOR — They didn't get much advance notice, but a crowd of city residents still managed to assemble Thursday night in City Hall to hear city commissioners discuss whether to rehire their recently departed city manager.

And when the answer was yes — unanimously — the council chamber erupted with applause, cheers and even a few tears.

It was an emotional return for Matt Spoor, who was Safety Harbor city manager for four years until Jan. 8, when he left for a new job as director of management and budget for the city of St. Petersburg. But after only a month in that job, Spoor approached Safety Harbor officials this week to ask for his old job back.

Commissioners had been preparing for interviews scheduled for today with five finalists for the city manager job. After hearing from Spoor, Mayor Andy Steingold hastily called a special meeting of the City Commission on Thursday to consider Spoor's request.

Spoor, sitting in the audience rather than in his old spot on the dais, frequently looked down at his hands as the commissioners talked. Though the discussion went on for a few minutes, the result was never really in doubt.

"When Mr. Spoor left, we were all very sad and we said, 'Mr. Spoor, if you ever want to come back, we'll welcome you with open arms,' '' Mayor Andy Steingold began. "I think you've proved yourself to the citizens, the employees and the commissioners of Safety Harbor. … You've done such good things for the community."

Vice Mayor Joe Ayoub thanked the 72 people who "stuck their necks out and applied for the position. … But we have a bird in the hand right here."

Only Commissioner Nina Bandoni sounded a negative note during the meeting. While she praised the job Spoor did as manager, she said she had leaned toward having the five finalists come for interviews anyway. Then, she learned Thursday morning that two of the five had already rescinded their applications after Spoor talked with them.

That "took away our options," she said, "and I feel very troubled by it."

Nevertheless, the commission voted 5-0 to rehire Spoor under his previous contract terms. Spoor, 34, will get to keep the time off he had earned previously.

Spoor did not speak during the meeting, but afterward was surrounded by well wishers giving him hugs and celebrating his return.

Spoor declined comment until after he talked to his bosses in St. Petersburg on Friday morning, then provided only a written statement.

In it, he praised the officials and staff he worked with during his brief tenure in St. Petersburg, calling them talented, hardworking and committed. His decision to ask for his old job back "is not about St. Petersburg," wrote Spoor, who lives in that city.

"My decision is a result of having to admit to myself that while my employment left Safety Harbor, my heart never did," he said. "During my tenure I developed a love and admiration for the city, its residents and staff. It is rare that a man is given a second chance after making a decision. I am honored and appreciative that the City Commission of Safety Harbor has given me that second chance."

In the statement, Spoor said he deeply regretted "the obvious inconvenience and undue hardship this has caused both cities."

Spoor will work his last day with St. Petersburg on Friday. Safety Harbor city commissioners are expected to approve his new employment contract at their next meeting on Feb. 20.

Diane Steinle can be reached at (727) 445-4184 or dsteinle@tampabay.com. To submit a letter to the editor, go to tampabay.com/letters.

Enthusiastic crowd welcomes back former Safety Harbor city manager 02/10/12 [Last modified: Friday, February 10, 2012 7:45pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. PolitiFact takes on big health care question: Does GOP bill cut Medicaid?

    National

    Politics and math don't always get along, and counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway raised a common complaint about how people talk about the future of Medicaid spending under the Senate Republican health care bill.

    Alice Jacobs, 90, at Dogwood Village, a nonprofit county-owned nursing home in Orange, Va., on June 23. Medicaid, targeted by Republicans' health care bill, pays for most of the 1.4 million elderly people in nursing homes, some of whom do not know they are on it. (Khue Bui/The New York Times)
  2. Higher Social Security payouts help Florida post a big jump in personal income

    Personal Finance

    Personal income grew 1.3 percent in Florida in the first quarter of this year, a four-way tie among all states for second-fastest growth behind Idaho.

  3. Gov. Scott in Washington as health care debate intensifies

    Blogs

    Gov. Rick Scott on Tuesday began a daylong series of meetings in Washington on health care, saying he wants to ensure Florida gets its share of Medicaid funding while praising parts of the Senate GOP’s Obamacare replacement.

    Florida Gov. Rick Scott speaks at Creative Sign Designs in Tampa on June 13.
  4. Rays series preview: Who are the Pirates?

    Blogs

    After an off day Monday, the Rays head on the road to PNC Park for a three-game interleague series against the Pirates. Here's the information you need to know about Pittsburgh before the action kicks off.

    Record: 35-41, fourth in NL Central

    Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen, left, has rebounded from a rough start, while fellow outfielder Gregory Polanco, right, has fallen off recently.
  5. U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist and estranged wife Carole put Beach Drive condo on the market

    Real Estate

    ST. PETERSBURG — U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist and his estranged wife, Carole, have put their Beach Drive condo on the market for $1.5 million.

    U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist and his estranged wife, Carole, have put their Beach Drive condo in Parkshore Plaza on the market for $1.5 million. {Courtesy of Amy Lamb/Native House Photography]