Monday, December 11, 2017
News Roundup

Pasco's pick for administrator backs out but may reconsider

When Tomas "Tommy" Gonzalez brought his wife and two young sons last week for a tour of Pasco County, he spent most of the three days in meetings. The family never got to scope out the neighborhoods or evaluate schools, he said.

"I was consumed with meetings," said Gonzalez, whose schedule included a county workshop, a tourism council meeting and sit-downs with government and business leaders. "We really didn't get a good feel for the area."

That, as well as salary issues, was why Gonzalez, 46, said Monday that he declined an offer to be Pasco County's next county administrator.

Gonzalez sent a brief email Saturday to commission Chairman Ted Schrader saying that after "discussing compensation and much consideration, I don't believe this is the best fit for my family and me at this time."

And yet, both sides indicate they might be willing to reopen talks.

Gonzalez, who is paid $246,000 in base salary per year as city manager of Irving, Texas, plus incentives that reports say total $450,000, said the pay in Pasco was lower than in Irving, but he didn't name an acceptable figure during talks.

"I never did throw any numbers out," he said.

Schrader said figures that were discussed were "competitive" with what administrators are paid in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties. Hillsborough Administrator Mike Merrill is paid $210,000 while Pinellas Administrator Bob LaSala makes $225,000 per year.

Retired Pasco Administrator John Gallagher was paid $180,000. Michele Baker is making $170,000 as Pasco's interim administrator.

"He just never would give me where he thought we needed to be," Schrader said.

Schrader said he would ask commissioners what they wanted to do as a result of Gonzalez's decision. He said he had not been given the authority to begin negotiating with Baker and said the search could be reopened if board members chose that course. The county paid about $24,000 to a Tallahassee recruiter to conduct a national search.

If that happens, he said, Baker would likely not reapply and other candidates could emerge.

At least one commissioner wants the job to go to Baker.

"I would offer the job to Michele," said Pat Mulieri, who said early in the search that Baker was her top choice.

Baker, who served as the chief deputy county administrator since 2007, did not return a message Monday.

Commissioner Henry Wilson Jr. said during the search that he wanted an outsider for the job.

Gonzalez said Monday that he has not accepted an offer elsewhere. He said he stood by his memo but then said he would be willing to reconsider if commissioners allowed him more time to explore the county with his family.

Commissioner Jack Mariano said he sympathized with Gonzalez's plight and would be willing to let the Gonzalez family return for a less structured visit.

"He's a family guy," he said. "There's still a tremendous opportunity for him here."

Comments
Lions-Buccaneers Turning Point, Week 14: A coach's future hangs in the balance

Lions-Buccaneers Turning Point, Week 14: A coach's future hangs in the balance

TAMPA — The season started in August with “Hard Knocks,” packed bleachers at training camp and cheers for coach Dirk Koetter.It ended Sunday with a 24-21 loss to the Lions, a lot of empty seats and chants of “We want Gruden ba...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Saturday’s sonic booms likely from F-15 fighters, NORAD says

Saturday’s sonic booms likely from F-15 fighters, NORAD says

Those sonic booms heard across the state Saturday afternoon were likely from two F-15 fighter jets protecting President Donald Trump during his visit to Florida, according to the North American Aerospace Defense Command.The jets, which belong to the ...
Updated: 9 minutes ago

Mother, sons lose everything in fire -- except her daughter’s urn

By DIVYA KUMARTimes staff writerST. PETERSBURG — The day after a fire claimed most of Jahmeshia Jackson’s possessions, the 27-year-old mother returned to the house she and her sons had escaped, trying to salvage what she could. She hoped her washer a...
Updated: 18 minutes ago
HomeTeam Hot Shot winners: Emily Joseph and Devin Cosser

HomeTeam Hot Shot winners: Emily Joseph and Devin Cosser

HomeTeam Hot ShotsEmily Joseph, NortheastJoseph, a senior, has been a deadly shooter since her sophomore year. But this season she has added to her game. "She’s gotten physically stronger and has gained confidence," coach Will White said. "She used t...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Outback Steakhouse co-founder Chris Sullivan steps off Bloomin’ Brands’ board

Outback Steakhouse co-founder Chris Sullivan steps off Bloomin’ Brands’ board

Chris Sullivan, co-founder of Outback Steakhouse, resigned from the board of the restaurant chain’s parent company last Wednesday, according to a Monday filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The document, filed by Tampa-based Bloomin’ B...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Pets rescued from fire at Tampa apartment complex (with video)

TAMPA — Firefighters rescued a cat and a dog from a blaze Monday that severely damaged an eight-unit apartment building in the Lowry Park area of Tampa.The fire started about 3:30 p.m. inside a two-story building at the Brookshire Townhomes, at 1910 ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Tree trimmer shocked by power line in Clearwater, authorities say

Tree trimmer shocked by power line in Clearwater, authorities say

CLEARWATER — A 38-year-old tree trimmer is in critical condition after he was shocked by a power line Monday, according to Clearwater Fire & Rescue.Ernest Harlen, of Largo, was on a ladder cutting trees with a pole saw when he was shocked just before...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Could report of rift relate to Jameis Winston’s damaged brand?

Could report of rift relate to Jameis Winston’s damaged brand?

TAMPA — What we have at One Buc Place is a game of Clue. The whodunit in this case is the person(s) who put out the information that quarterback Jameis Winston’s relationship with coach Dirk Koetter is on cracked ice.Was it Winston in the weight room...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Updated: 3 hours ago
Police make arrest in South Tampa home invasion of 77-year-old

Police make arrest in South Tampa home invasion of 77-year-old

TAMPA — Police have arrested a teenager in connection with an armed home invasion around the Hyde Park area.Leo W. Butler, 19, was arrested Friday and faces a charge of robbery of less than $300. He is being held on a $15,000 bond.According to Tampa ...
Updated: 3 hours ago