Friday, December 15, 2017
News Roundup

Firings of two New Port Richey officials remain unexplained

NEW PORT RICHEY — Four days after firing two high-ranking New Port Richey officials, interim city manager Susan Dillinger would not explain her actions — even to at least one of the people she dismissed.

Dillinger informed Mayor Bob Consalvo on Thursday that she had fired city finance director Doug Haag and human resources director Lindy Thomas. But on Monday, the firings were not addressed as the City Council unanimously approved New Port Richey's budget — the creation of which Haag oversaw — for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1.

After the meeting, Dillinger shed no more light on the situation saying the city's labor attorney, David Miller, advised her not to discuss the firings or complete any written documentation as to why Haag and Thomas were fired. The only documents on file with the city were generic letters letting the two directors know they were no longer employed.

"I know how to take legal advice," Dillinger told the Times.

Miller declined to comment for this story.

Consalvo said last week he has not been told why the directors were fired, an assertion Deputy Mayor Bill Phillips echoed after the meeting Monday.

"I was told by the interim city manager and the police chief (Kim Bogart) that there were grounds," Phillips said.

Bogart declined comment, as did Thomas, 53, who had been with the city since April 2011. For his part, Haag is in the dark as to why he was fired, but declined to discuss the matter further.

The city hired Haag, 60, in June 2011.

"I was given no reason, and beyond that I have no comment at this time," Haag said.

The firings come as Dillinger's tenure as interim city manager appears to be winding down. Last week, the City Council re-opened its search for a permanent hire but pledged to have interviews of candidates completed by the end of October.

Dillinger, who has not sought the permanent position, was appointed in October 2012 following the departure of former city manager John Schneiger, who was given severance pay after saying he had lost the support of the City Council.

Prior to Dillinger's appointment, it was actually Haag who spent weeks leading New Port Richey as acting city manager while Schneiger took weeks of medical and vacation leave prior to the announcement of his departure.

Comments
Why the Bucs need a Dungy more than a Gruden

Why the Bucs need a Dungy more than a Gruden

TAMPA — The worst week of Dirk Koetter’s life rolls on.It’s Gruden Week, just like Shark Week, only with smaller teeth and a bigger playbook. It’s the big build-up to Gruden’s induction into the Buc Ring of Honor this Monday night, with the accompany...
Updated: 15 minutes ago
Arrest made as former gay bathhouse in Ybor City is hit by arson a third time

Arrest made as former gay bathhouse in Ybor City is hit by arson a third time

TAMPA — Tampa police arrested a man Friday on charges he set fire to a vacant Ybor City bathhouse hit by at least two earlier arsons this year.Police said Carroll DeMoss, 46, was found early Friday inside the building at 1512 E 8th Ave. after patrols...
Updated: 15 minutes ago
The meta-soap opera of Omarosa Manigault’s White House exit

The meta-soap opera of Omarosa Manigault’s White House exit

WASHINGTON — As the spooling drama of Omarosa Manigault Newman’s White House departure spun into its 36th hour, Washington began asking itself: "Does it actually matter whether Omarosa quit or was fired?"Dumbest story ever," tweeted John Harwood, the...
Updated: 19 minutes ago
How the Disney/Fox deal will shake up Hollywood

How the Disney/Fox deal will shake up Hollywood

Associated Press NEW YORK — After years of tremors, the earthquake that had long been predicted finally shook Hollywood. Disney’s deal to purchase most of 21st Century Fox ends the era of the "Big Six" major movie studios, toppling one ...
Updated: 25 minutes ago
Being your own lawyer: bad idea. People in Tampa Bay do it anyway.

Being your own lawyer: bad idea. People in Tampa Bay do it anyway.

LARGO — Daniel Richards walked into the courtroom in his orange jail scrubs. Carrying a stack of papers, he stood in front of Pinellas Circuit judge Chris Helinger as she glanced at the handwritten documents he filed days earlier."I foresee foul play...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to marry May 19

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to marry May 19

LONDON — Kensington Palace says the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will be held on May 19. The palace announced the date Friday and confirmed the ceremony will take place in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle. The couple announced their...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Missing Child Alert canceled for Port St. Lucie girl, 17

A Florida Missing Child Alert has been canceled for a 17-year-old Port St. Lucie girl who was last seen on Thursday.The case involving Heaven Flores has been resolved, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
Updated: 2 hours ago
Rick and Tom podcast: Is Dirk Koetter fighting for his job?

Rick and Tom podcast: Is Dirk Koetter fighting for his job?

In their latest podcast, Rick Stroud and Tom Jones discuss whether Dirk Koetter is fighting for his job the final three weeks of season. Is there a rift between him and Jameis Winston? Has Winston shown enough progress this year? And who are the Glaz...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Deputies: Plant City men fled in stolen car, later found in swamp

Deputies: Plant City men fled in stolen car, later found in swamp

DOVER — Two Plant City men, with several outstanding warrants, face additional charges after Hillsborough County deputies said they were driving a stolen car when they fled an attempted traffic stop on Thursday afternoon.The men ran away from deputie...
Updated: 3 hours ago

Hudson pedestrian killed while crossing U.S. 19

HUDSON — A Hudson man was killed Thursday night while crossing U.S. 19.According to the Florida Highway Patrol, 59-year-old Gerald Berube was crossing the northbound lanes of U.S. 19 north of Stahl Drive around 6:40 p.m. when he walked into the path ...
Updated: 4 hours ago