Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Time to respect top county position

By the time Hernando County commissioners had finished interviewing the three finalists for the county administrator's job Wednesday, a clear favorite had emerged: Ron Pianta.

Judging by the praise commissioners heaped upon him for his work as interim administrator, they'd love for him to take the job permanently.

Of course, Pianta made it known from the start that he's not interested. He has plenty of logical-sounding personal reasons why he doesn't want to live in the county where he works — a state requirement for administrators — and uproot his family from its current home in Pasco County.

He'd be more willing, I suspect, if he didn't have to worry about uprooting it again after a couple of miserable years, which has been the pattern around here for county administrators. There's a quirk in my word processing program that seems like it could have been an omen for Pianta. Whenever I type his last name, it automatically changes to "Pinata."

"He's seen it as an insider," said county Commissioner David Russell. "He's watched the county administrators and what they've gone through."

You could call this a non-issue, because, obviously, he's not taking the job. But it does say something about working conditions here when commissioners don't even get to consider the only qualified internal candidate.

They don't get a chance to avoid the period of on-the-job training while the new administrator learns about Hernando and — because all of the finalists are from out of state — about Florida.

They don't get an opportunity to send the message to a demoralized staff that they think one its own can handle the top job.

Instead, we have three outsiders — none of the them especially charismatic, but all experienced and apparently competent. Enough so, at least, that most commissioners said they will choose one of them and will not send their hired headhunter out for a new crop of candidates.

Good. That would be just the kind of snub to further discourage qualified applicants, though there is another, similarly disrespectful idea still floating around. Commission Chairman Wayne Dukes said he wants to try to hire the new administrator for less than the advertised minimum salary of $120,000 per year.

Yes, it would save money. But so would asking the new guy to mow ballfields at county parks. When a county this desperate is trying to hire someone whose work could cost or save the county millions, it's not the time for penny pinching.

The commission won't make its choice until Tuesday, but two of the commissioners, Jim Adkins and John Druzbick, were willing to say Thursday they are leaning toward Len Sossamon, from South Carolina, who has experience working in exurban locations such as Hernando.

My favorite was Ed Green, and I hope that by saying this I won't kill his chances with a commission that tends not to agree with me. He had specific suggestions for saving money, including reducing the inmate population at the county jail. But he was also brave enough to say this won't be enough — that the commission has to get more money out of constitutional officers (read: the sheriff) and maybe raise taxes.

An independent voice, enough money to run the county, and, who knows, we might get an administrator rather than a piñata.

Time to respect top county position 04/05/12 [Last modified: Thursday, April 5, 2012 9:19pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Richard Corcoran has a new committee to help him become governor


    Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran has opened a new political committee, Watchdog PAC, that may or may not bankroll his campaign for governor in 2018. The Land O'Lakes Republica

    CBO analysis: 23 million would lose health coverage under House-passed bill


    WASHINGTON — The Republican health care bill that passed the House earlier this month would nearly double the number of Americans without health insurance over the next decade, according to a new analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

    Demonstrators protests the passage of a House Republican health care bill, outside the the Capitol in Washington, on May 4. The House took the unusual step of voting on the American Health Care Act before the Congressional Budget Office could assess it. That analysis was released Thursday and it showed the bill would cause 23 million fewer people to have health insurance by 2026. Many additional consumers would see skimpier health coverage and higher deductibles, the budget office projected.
  2. Florida Specialty Insurance acquires Pinellas Park's Mount Beacon Insurance


    Tens of thousands of homeowners who were pushed out of Citizens Property Insurance for a private carrier since 2014 are finding themselves changing insurance companies yet again.

  3. Pope Francis presents Trump with a 'politically loaded gift': His encyclical on climate change

    Global Warming

    VATICAN CITY — On Wednesday, Pope Francis appeared to make his point with a gift.

    Ivanka Trump, first lady Melania Trump and President Donald Trump meet with Pope Francis at the Vatican, Wednesday.  [Evan Vucci/Pool via The New York Times]
  4. Tampa police say 41-year-old man shot and killed by ex-boss, investigation ongoing


    TAMPA — A 41-year-old man was shot and killed by his former boss Wednesday morning outside the West Tampa auto body shop where they once worked together, according to Tampa police.