Friday, November 17, 2017
News Roundup

Retiring administrator John Gallagher a tough act to follow, Pasco leaders say

RECOMMENDED READING


DADE CITY — The day after announcing his retirement to county employees, County Administrator John Gallagher pressed forward with routine business at a commission meeting where his departure never came up.

But during breaks, it was a top conversation topic amongst commissioners, staffers and visitors.

The most common conclusion? After more than three decades as the head of county government, Gallagher will be a tough man to replace.

"He's a Pasco institution," said newly elected Commissioner Kathryn Starkey. "His institutional knowledge and his passion for Pasco is going to be hard to match."

Gallagher, 65, will leave in late April or early May, just weeks after his 31st anniversary on the job. He is the longest-serving county administrator in Florida history.

"I'm grateful for the fact that Mr. Gallagher is able to leave on his own terms," said Commissioner Ted Schrader. "He can look back with great pride."

Many remember Gallagher for ushering in key pieces of infrastructure after he took over a rural county in March 1982 as it was headed for explosive growth.

But a more recent development could end up as a key part of his legacy.

Gallagher admits feeling nervous when he invited the Urban Land Institute to visit Pasco in 2008 to critique the county's growth policies. The resulting report is widely praised inside and outside county government as a refreshing change to the way the county does business.

The ULI study has been the blueprint officials used to create a predictable permitting system and encourage dense growth in west Pasco and along the county's southern edge.

"He put his whole legacy on the line when he brought this forward," Commissioner Jack Mariano said. "He knew it wasn't going to be all positive."

"He was willing to accept the ULI study," added Commissioner Pat Mulieri. "That was hard for him when they said, 'You know, you're not doing it right.' I think we've all grown."

Commissioners praise Gallagher for improving development standards. Schrader pointed to some "poorly designed" developments in west Pasco built in the '60s when the county was still a mecca for retirees.

"I believe he's learned from a lot of that," he said. "That needed to change."

Schrader credited Gallagher for helping with the 50-year plan in east Pasco's Pasadena Hills area. The plan envisions clustering development in dense villages, and has a comprehensive road network paid for with enhanced charges on development. The effort required convincing dozens of property owners to take a long view of a higher-quality community.

"Future (commissioners) are going to look back and say, 'Wow, that was a wise decision,' " Schrader said.

•••

His tenure didn't come without threats. It only takes three votes to replace a county administrator.

In 1990, two longtime commissioners were defeated. Critics at the time wore buttons that said, "Two down, three to go."

Gallagher recalled speaking with Mike Fasano, then a Republican activist who hadn't yet been elected to the Legislature.

"He used to say to me, 'We're not after you,' " Gallagher said. "I said, 'Right. You get those (incumbent commissioners), you got me.' "

Gallagher kept three allies.

Fasano, about to start his 19th year as a lawmaker, had nothing but kind words for Gallagher on Tuesday.

He recalled having Gallagher as his state and local government teacher at Gulf High School. Gallagher, a New Port Richey council member at the time, offered extra credit to students who stopped by city meetings. Fasano never went. He earned a B.

Fasano graded Gallagher's tenure as an A-plus. "He didn't use the office to better himself or a special interest," Fasano said. "He used that to better the county."

• • •

Gallagher even earned plaudits from some in the business community that sometimes chafe at county government bureaucracy.

"We have had, I guess, differences of opinion on occasion, but it's always been a pleasurable difference," said Billy E. Brown, the longtime general manager of Withlacoochee River Electric Cooperative. The company not only dealt with the county on utility issues but also as the developer of the Lake Jovita subdivision and One Pasco Center.

Developer Lew Friedland said Pasco "is not the easiest place in the world to develop in."

"John was always very tough," said Friedland, whose company developed much of Trinity. "He had a vision for Pasco County to build higher-quality projects than what Pasco was like 30 years ago.

"For guys that wanted to build the cheapest project around, I'm sure this was very frustrating," Friedland added. "John is one of those people that we'll probably all miss more than we know."

Lee Logan can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 869-6236.

Comments
Selective outrage: Trump criticizes Franken, silent on Moore

Selective outrage: Trump criticizes Franken, silent on Moore

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is displaying selective outrage over allegations of sexual harassment against prominent men in politics, as his own tortured past lingers over his response. Trump moved quickly Thursday to condemn accusations again...
Updated: 12 minutes ago
Rick and Tom podcast: Will the Bucs make it two wins in a row?

Rick and Tom podcast: Will the Bucs make it two wins in a row?

In their latest podcast, Rick Stroud and Tom Jones actually agree on their prediction for the Bucs-Dolphins game that will see Ryan Fitzpatrick make his second straight start in place of the injured Jameis Winston. They’ll give you the keys to the ga...
Updated: 1 hour ago
20 injured in fire at Pennsylvania senior living community

20 injured in fire at Pennsylvania senior living community

WEST CHESTER, Pa. — A massive fire at a senior living community in Pennsylvania injured at least 20 people and forced dozens more, many of whom were unable to walk, into the cold night air. Firefighters were still dousing hot spots Friday, even thoug...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Forecast: Ideal conditions across Tampa leading to weekend, but rain is on its way

Forecast: Ideal conditions across Tampa leading to weekend, but rain is on its way

The week ends with more virtually ideal weather conditions across Tampa Bay, but that changes a bit on Sunday with the arrival of a cold front that could result in a soggy Thanksgiving.10News WTSPFeels-like temperatures around the Tampa Bay area Whi...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Watch: Dugan addresses Seminole Heights residents’ concerns at NAACP event

Watch: Dugan addresses Seminole Heights residents’ concerns at NAACP event

TAMPA — Members of the black community expressed appreciation on Thursday for police efforts to find the person responsible for killing four residents of southeast Seminole Heights in recent weeks.But at a meeting organized by the local chapter of th...
Updated: 2 hours ago
In struggling upstate New York cities, refugees vital to rebirth

In struggling upstate New York cities, refugees vital to rebirth

UTICA, N.Y. — Pat Marino pulled into the shop on a cold, wet Thursday and stood close as a young mechanic with gelled-up hair and earrings lifted the truck and ducked underneath."You need a little bit more oil," the mechanic said."Five quarts wasn’t ...
Updated: 3 hours ago
The Daystarter: Black residents question Seminole Heights arrest spike; Christmas and Harry Potter at Universal; Tampa Bay Auto Show, Winter Village in Tampa; plan your Thanksgiving menu

The Daystarter: Black residents question Seminole Heights arrest spike; Christmas and Harry Potter at Universal; Tampa Bay Auto Show, Winter Village in Tampa; plan your Thanksgiving menu

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what you need to know today.• A beautiful Friday, with highs in the upper 70s and all the sunshine you could ask for, according to 10Weather WTSP. A cold front will drag down temperatures Sunday and Monda...
Updated: 3 hours ago
First look: Harry Potter’s Christmas finally arrives at Universal Orlando

First look: Harry Potter’s Christmas finally arrives at Universal Orlando

Christmas has finally come to Hogwarts at Universal Orlando, with the promise of warm butterbeer, a Frog Choir singing carols and a magical light show projected onto Hogwarts Castle nightly followed by fireworks. It opens to the public on Saturday. C...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Electric, autonomous vehicles featured at Tampa auto show

Electric, autonomous vehicles featured at Tampa auto show

TAMPA — The two biggest trends in the automotive space are ones you’ve likely heard of: electric vehicles and autonomous cars. Both will feature prominently at the Tampa Bay International Auto Show today through Sunday. The event at the Tampa Convent...
Updated: 11 hours ago
College football viewing guide, Week 11

College football viewing guide, Week 11

Watching college football all day Saturday? Here’s the meh and must-see time frames:Lamest time window: Late. It’s a pretty weak slate, so take a light day.Noon: No. 5 Wisconsin finally gets a test, No. 19 Michigan. 3:30: How will No. 9 Notre Dame re...
Published: 11/17/17