Port Richey will never change. It will never change because it doesn't want to. It basks in its dysfunction. It revels in its inability to progress. It prides itself on its short-sightedness. If you need evidence of this, research as far back as you care to go and you will find a city plagued by the same ignorance that has held it pinned firmly to the ground throughout its modern existence.
The latest incarnation of this pathetic pattern is the shameful lynching of the brightest hope this city has seen in years, maybe decades, for positive change. I have never been more embarrassed to be a resident of this community than I was while witnessing the cruel and thoughtless destruction of the reputation of a man who had given his heart and soul to the task of dragging this city out of the abyss in which it has taken up permanent residence.
Shameful as an act in and of itself; shameful in the way it was perpetrated, with absolute and total disregard for the proper procedure that was acknowledged by all yet completely ignored. Shameful in the way people stepped up to that podium in misinformed judgment and cited the twisted falsehoods, the rumors, and the innuendo that they were too intellectually lazy to investigate on their own. But why bother with seeking the truth, thereby going against a time honored Port Richey tradition? Due process be damned. Just get that rope up over the branch, slap the horse's behind and be done with it.
Put aside the fact that for a year, Richard Reade labored night and day, separated from his family, doing all that he was asked and more. Forget that the vast majority of the criticisms he received came from disgruntled employees and union types whose only concern was their own personal gain and bitter ex-officials who not only covet the power that they squandered but live in fear that their misdeeds will some day be uncovered and exposed. You can even forget about the myriad of initiatives that he brought to success where previous administrations had utterly failed. In other words, never mind that he was a dedicated and successful city manager of whom we demanded miracles that he rarely failed to deliver.
Instead, focus for a moment on the fact that a few hate-filled, bitter, small-minded, self-serving individuals set about in a most callous fashion and with complete and total disregard for the proper and legal procedures, to reward his Herculean efforts by firing him a week before Christmas. It's ironic that he had fought for an extra holiday off for his staff just the previous week.
What sickens me most is the perverse pleasure these people take in the knowledge that Mr. Reade and his wife and child will not be celebrating this Christmas season.
They are happy to be the reason that Mr. Reade will receive his final paycheck as his wife is giving birth to their second child. They take pleasure in the thought that this wonderful family will likely join the rolls of those who will lose their homes in the coming year. I hope they are proud of themselves. Personally, they disgust me.
They have done more to jeopardize the future of this city than a hundred petitions by proving me wrong; by convincing the anti-city movement Mr. Reade and I have worked so hard to turn around, that real substantive change is a virtual impossibility for Port Richey. The arrogance, intolerance, and fear of a few noisy gadflies, followed by a herd of sheep who are content to chew on the cuds of their ignorance is why the city continues to be the biggest waste of potential in municipal history.
What, besides change, are they afraid of? What they and their ilk are afraid of is the blinding, unforgiving light of truth. They fear what gets uncovered when we start the turning the rocks over. The attacks increase proportionally as we move closer to the realities of how Port Richey has been run in years past. They are scared to death that people will find out the truth about why this city is so dysfunctional; scared to death that the myriad of misdeeds, tragically poor decisions, abysmally incompetent stewardship, total lack of vision or planning, outright misconduct, and probably even criminal behavior will be exposed.
Well, I would tell them not to worry. Their ugly little secrets are safe so long as they continue, as they always have, to ensure that Port Richey never changes; however, their true character has been laid out for all see during this Christmas season.
Perry Bean is a member of the Port Richey City Council.