Sunday, April 22, 2018
News Roundup

Four finalists for Pasco administrator job tout strengths

ST. LEO — Four people, all local government veterans, tried to convince Pasco County's elected leaders Friday that they should be tapped to lead the county's transition from a bedroom community into a bustling jobs mecca.

Each spent an hour answering questions from commissioners, who are expected to decide Tuesday from among the finalists chosen from more than 60 who sought to succeed John Gallagher as Pasco's next county administrator. His last day is Friday.

Candidates met privately with each commissioner in the morning on the campus of Saint Leo University. At an afternoon session, which was open to the public, each finalist fielded the same set of questions. Topics included budgeting, economic development, ethics, tough decisions, providing services despite shrinking revenues and maintaining the quality of life.

Tomas "Tommy" Gonzalez touched on his experience as an officer in the Army Reserve and his six years as city manager in Irving, Texas, in which he has maintained the city's top bond rating and won a national award for efficiency.

As for luring jobs, Gonzalez called Irving a leader, adding that the city has attracted more than 20,000 jobs since he began beefing up incentives.

"What they wanted to know is that we were open for business and we really wanted them there," he said.

Gonzalez also said that 94 percent of the city's goals on its strategic plan have been met under his watch.

"This guy gets results," he said, referring to what the folks back home would say about him.

Randy Oliver, a former Escambia County administrator who has held a number of other top manager jobs, talked about his expertise in bricks and mortar.

"I have a solid understanding of all types of capital projects," said Oliver, who has degrees in construction and engineering. "Water, sewers, reservoirs."

He described himself as "a change agent" and said Pasco's chief challenges are addressing its infrastructure issues and creating a brand.

Eric Johnson, director of strategic planning in Hillsborough County government, focused on his budget expertise and his familiarity with the area.

"I know a lot about regional issues," said Johnson, who lives about 6 miles from the Pasco/Hillsborough line. He also mentioned his major role in the development of Hillsborough's strategic plan.

"It's very focused, perhaps more than yours, in terms of job creation," he said.

An economist, Johnson mentioned his 25 years of critiquing hundreds of other governments budgets as giving him an edge in finance.

"I've taught budget analysts and directors from around the country," he said.

A lieutenant of former Hillsborough administrator Pat Bean, Johnson said he and a colleague declined a 10 percent pay raise after public outcry over it, even though each was doing two jobs under a reorganization.

"From an ethical standpoint, I think we did the right thing," he said, adding that "it cost me a lot of money."

Michele Baker, Pasco's chief assistant county administrator and the only internal candidate, made it clear that while she shared her boss' core beliefs, the two differ when it comes to how things get done.

"He was a command-and-control leader," she said. "I am a collaborative leader. He likes to build things. I like to build people."

She cited her lead roles in developing efficiency programs, in a study that led that to an overhaul of land development rules and in helping hammer out deals with financial firms T. Rowe Price and Raymond James.

She also pledged to continue an active role on the Economic Development Council and to help create a more welcoming climate for those bringing jobs. The county has been criticized in the past for its slow permitting process.

"It will take some effort to overcome our bad reputation," she said.

     
 
Comments
4 dead in Nashville Waffle House shooting; suspect sought

4 dead in Nashville Waffle House shooting; suspect sought

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A man wearing nothing but a coat stormed a Waffle House restaurant in Tennessee before dawn Sunday and shot four people to death, according to police, who credited a customer with saving lives by wresting a weapon away from t...
Updated: 3 hours ago
District softball schedules for Tampa Bay

District softball schedules for Tampa Bay

Class 9A-8 (higher seed hosts)Tuesday: No. 3 Alonso at No. 2 Palm Harbor University, 4; No. 4 Sarasota Riverview at No. 1 Newsome, 7Thursday: Final, 4 or 7 (depending on who hosts)Class 8A-4 at Strawberry Crest Tuesday: No. 1 Wharton vs. No. 4 Wiregr...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Teen killed in crash remembered as

Teen killed in crash remembered as "always smiling and laughing"

WEEKI WACHEE — Seth Leathers was on his way to play basketball at his church when he was killed Wednesday in a car crash on U.S. 19 in Spring Hill, according to family friend Laurie Pike.Leathers, 16, was the passenger in a car driven by his friend G...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Rays thoughts are with ex-teammate Danny Farquhar

Rays thoughts are with ex-teammate Danny Farquhar

Members of the Rays organization sent their thoughts and prayers to former teammate Danny Farquhar, who was hospitalized Saturday night in Chicago in stable but critical condition after suffering a brain hemorrhage caused by a ruptured aneurysm.Farqu...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Baseball: Bulls edge Knights to even series

Baseball: Bulls edge Knights to even series

After a two-hour weather delay Saturday evening at USF, the remote local threat of lightning finally dissipated.The postseason intensity never did.For the second consecutive night, the UCF-USF baseball series delivered, this time with the Bulls (25-1...
Published: 04/22/18
Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Not too many people took then-candidate Donald Trump seriously when he famously campaigned to "drain the swamp" as president. But that shouldn’t give this administration a free pass to excuse the behavior of Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Env...
Published: 04/22/18
Perspective: The Heartland to Headwaters Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition finds frustration and fear seeking a safe a path for wildlife across Interstate 4

Perspective: The Heartland to Headwaters Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition finds frustration and fear seeking a safe a path for wildlife across Interstate 4

The original Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition in 2012 was inspired by the how the Florida black bear roamed — and the space it needed to do so successfully. In 2010, expedition team member Joe Guthrie conducted research through the University of ...
Published: 04/22/18
Rays Journal: Team effort pays off in 10-1 win over Twins

Rays Journal: Team effort pays off in 10-1 win over Twins

ST. PETERSBURG – Let's be clear here, the Rays still have a long way to go, and a lot of ground to make up.But seeing them play like they did Saturday in beating the Twins 10-1, putting on a solid all-around show in cobbling their first three-g...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Lightning-Devils: Grading Tampa Bay’s clinching 3-1 victory in Game 5

Lightning-Devils: Grading Tampa Bay’s clinching 3-1 victory in Game 5

TAMPA — Closers.That's what the Lightning looked like as it closed out the New Jersey Devils in five games with a 3-1 win Saturday.Nikita Kucherov's star power blazed again, the defense controlled the game and not even Jersey goaltend...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Athletics’ Sean Manaea no-hits Red Sox

Athletics’ Sean Manaea no-hits Red Sox

OAKLAND, Calif. – Sean Manaea watched as Marcus Semien fired a ball from short to second baseman Jed Lowrie, turned around, and jumped into the arms of catcher Jonathan Lucroy. History was made at the Coliseum.Manaea no-hit the Red Sox on ...
Published: 04/21/18
Updated: 04/22/18