Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hernando County administrator puts on his 'big boy pants'

Hernando County Administrator Len Sossamon seemed to be another quiet, get-along administrator until he called out Hernando County Aviation Authority leader Gary Schraut.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Hernando County Administrator Len Sossamon seemed to be another quiet, get-along administrator until he called out Hernando County Aviation Authority leader Gary Schraut.

I didn't know Len Sossamon had it in him.

He had struck me as a get-along sort of guy, specializing in folksy sayings and conversations about the barbecue of his native North Carolina.

The only thing that interested him more, it seemed, was holding on to his job as Hernando County administrator. He needed that job, I figured, because of a serious business setback a few years ago.

I had him pegged as another Chuck Hetrick, the last administrator able to survive more than a few years in this position, a feat accomplished by not accomplishing much else, by not making waves.

But then what did Sossamon do?

He called out Gary Schraut.

He pointed out that Schraut's Hernando County Aviation Authority really doesn't have much authority at all; it's just an advisory board, Sossamon said, which means Schraut has no right to treat the airport as his "playground."

He said Schraut "needs to put on his big-boy pants and suck it up.''

This all happened more than three weeks ago, which means it's old news. My excuse for writing about it is that I've been away, and that this is a big deal, given the history of this county, and that a lot has happened since.

It's a big deal because Schraut was the one who made the calls that helped persuade a majority of commissioners to push previous administrator David Hamilton out of his job in late 2011.

It's also a big deal because when Sossamon stood up to Schraut, he had the support of at least three commissioners. I don't ever want to doubt the pull of Schraut or the business interests he represents, but I'd say that right now he'd have a hard time getting anybody at the county fired.

And mostly, Schraut has himself to blame for this, not Sossamon.

He's lost credibility by losing his temper at meetings, by denigrating his opponents and by sending an email that with scant evidence tried to say the problems at the airport were Sossamon's fault.

It's not clear, as has been claimed, that Schraut tried to block a Clearwater company from leasing a hangar and office building at the airport; in fact, he made the motion to recommend the lease.

But it is clear that once serious problems showed up at this compound, the county was obliged to fix them. Schraut tried to insist that the company leased it "as is."

The county's duty to make these repairs is even more clear now that the Times' Barbara Behrendt revealed potential problems with the final building inspection and certificate of occupancy.

Yes, those are the responsibility of the county development department. But this was a major project at the airport. You'd think the folks there would be on top of it. That includes Schraut. After all, he gets a lot of credit for good things at the airport.

There have been quite a lot of them, let's not forget, which is one reason it's too early to say he needs to step down.

But it was long past the time that someone needed to remind Schraut of the limits of his authority. That it came from the county administrator is all the better.

Hernando is so in need of stability in that job, we would have welcomed another Hetrick. Most of us would be willing to sacrifice strong leadership for longevity.

Now, maybe, it looks like we could have both.

Hernando County administrator puts on his 'big boy pants' 08/09/13 [Last modified: Friday, August 9, 2013 6:59pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Comedian and activist Dick Gregory dies at 84

    Nation

    The comedian Dick Gregory rose to national prominence in the early 1960s as a black satirist whose audacious style of humor was biting, subversive and topical, mostly centered on current events, politics and above all, racial tensions. His trademark was the searing punchline.

    Dick Gregory, a comedian, activist and author, died Saturday. [Tribune News Service, 2011]
  2. Winter Haven police investigating armed robbery at Dollar General

    Crime

    WINTER HAVEN — Police are investigating an armed robbery Friday night of a Dollar General store on W Lake Ruby Drive.

  3. Rowdies settle for draw at home

    Soccer

    ST. PETERSBURG — The good news for the Rowdies is that they still haven't lost a game at Al Lang Stadium since late April. The bad news is they had to settle for a 1-1 tie against Ottawa on Saturday night in front of 6,710 sweaty fans.

  4. Bats come to life, but Rays' freefall continues (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG —The six runs seemed like a ton, just the second time the Rays had scored that many in a game during their numbing two-plus-weeks stretch of offensive impotency, and amazingly, the first time at the Trop in nearly two months.

    Lucas Duda connects for a two-run home run in the sixth, getting the Rays within 7-5. A Logan Morrison home run in the ninth made it 7-6, but Tampa Bay couldn’t complete the comeback.
  5. 'Free speech rally' cut short after massive counterprotest

    Nation

    BOSTON — Thousands of demonstrators chanting anti-Nazi slogans converged Saturday on downtown Boston in a boisterous repudiation of white nationalism, dwarfing a small group of conservatives who cut short their planned "free speech rally" a week after a gathering of hate groups led to bloodshed in Virginia.

    Thousands of people march against a “free speech rally” planned Saturday in Boston. About 40,000 people were in attendance.