What was that old slogan for a popular product? It takes a licking, but keeps on ticking.
So with John W. Coffey of Indian Rocks Beach.
He took a beating, but the guy has class.
Under fire as city manager for the past couple of months, he was finally forced out with the caterwauling of, chiefly, Commissioners Jim Palmer and Jeremiah Carmody.
R.B. Johnson's defense of Coffey was futile, and Mayor Bill Ockunzzi took a moderate approach that would have kept Coffey in office but there is no suggestion that the final outcome has sent Ockunzzi into a tizzy of deep disappointment.
Commissioner Jean Scott, who took Ockunzzi's seat when he moved up to mayor to replace the departed Bob DiNicola, was late to the whole meshugga and played a minimal role.
While Coffey was being assaulted publicly, he kept his balance and did not answer in kind to the attacks he was sustaining.
Even when the handwriting on the wall was in letters three feet high and there was no chance he would keep his job he showed no bitterness or vindictiveness and offered to be helpful through the whole budget process.
He leaves office officially with more than $46,000 in separation money tomorrow, but with Mary Karayianes, the city's financial director, also leaving, Indian Rocks Beach has, in effect, beheaded itself of its top leadership.
Coffey and Karayianes are the ones who construct and tweak the budget. Coffey will be around to help out, a nice gesture from a guy who some think was not treated with equal generosity.
He had tough shoes to fill, succeeding Tom Brobeil for whom he worked as assistant city manager. After a spell as interim manager, the commission gave him the job in January 2004 and things went along until it all wrecked this spring.
Take note -- city managers have tough jobs. They run the mechanics of a city and must have a wide range of knowledge. On top of that, they have to keep a balance with their employers -- the commission or council which has live or die control.
The details of what happened in Indian Rocks Beach are so tedius and tiresome it is annoying to even review the events in one's mind.
Suffice to say that for Coffey things went from bad to worse. He had support from folks in the community, but not enough to sway enough commissioners -- especially Palamara and Carmody who were adamant that he must go.
A review by Andy Salzman, the city attorney, found some very mild negative stuff. For example, Coffey could do with some more finesse in his interpersonal skills, that his temperament might not always be at the level of St. Frances of Assisi, etc.
But Salzman emphasized that there was no hint of wrongdoing in Coffey's performance.
It takes no great leap of imagination to speculate that there may be more to the story than what has been seen publicly.
Ockunzzi, who is as shrewd and wise a politician and agile bureaucrat as you are going to find anywhere, hinted at such darkness in the background at the commission's July 12 meeting.
In effect, he said, there is stuff going on in city hall that mystified him. "It's not about money, maybe more like power."
Coffey was more direct at the same meeting, referring to a city "charter" employee who had meddled and made his path difficult.
It was clear that Ockunzzi and Coffey had the same individual in mind.
There are ways to solve a problem like that.
You can bet Ockunzzi will solve it before many sunsets go by.
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