INDIAN ROCKS BEACH - Is Al Grieshaber, barely settled in permanently as Indian Rocks Beach's city manager, on the way out?
The job finally became Grieshaber's in February after protracted and agonizing negotiations. He had been serving since last summer on an interim basis after John Coffey was forced out.
Now it appears bait has been dangled in front of Grieshaber by Citrus County which is looking for a a county administrator.
An e-mail exchange between Mayor Bill Ockunzzi and Grieshaber on last Thursday pretty well tells the story, as far as it is known.
Ockunzzi evidently became aware of a story in the county's only daily newspaper that related how Grieshaber was one of 22 applicants to fill the county administrator position left vacant when the Citrus County Commission fired Richard Wesch March 28.
Ockunzzi e-mailed Grieshaber early in the afternoon May 18 and included the Citrus County story in the e-mail.
"The article below appeared in today's editon of the Citrus Times," Ockunzzi wrote, and continued, "I presume your short listing is a result of an application you submitted before being named permanent IRB city manager, which is understandable."
Grieshaber replied to Ockunzzi's message but did not directly address the "out" Ockunzzi gave him on the timing of the submission of Grieshaber's application to Citrus County.
Grieshaber became permanent in Indian Rocks Beach on February 14. The Citrus County administrator's job didn't come open until March 28, six weeks later. The time element presumed by Ockunzzi would only work if Grieshaber had submitted a resignation to Citrus County blindly, prior to February 14, without reference or knowledge that Wesch would be fired in late March.
In his reply, Grieshaber wrote, "I am certainly happy in Indian Rocks Beach; however, I have to look at opportunities to enhance my professional growth."
He deftly sidestepped the "presumption" hole in the fence that Ockunzzi offered. Instead, Grieshaber goes on with a syrupy flow of words in muddled syntax worthy of the most ingratiating politician - "We are working hard, together, to implement the residents vision and the priorities of the City Commission and I will continue to do so."
After his notification to Grieshaber that he was aware of the Citrus County situation and offering the "out," Ockunzzi goes on to say, "You may want to provide the vice mayor and commissioners with a heads up before a local edition of the Times prints something."
Then Ockunzzi asks, in his e-mail - "Any advice on what I should say if the press contacts me?"
Grieshaber, new as he is relatively in Indian Rocks Beach, has had a rocky history with the commission.
He took up the reins from Coffey in August and underwent a probationary period. Grieshaber was then actually hired in December, subject to the completion of a contract.
Negotiations between Grieshaber and Andy Salzman, the city's lawyer, stalled and dragged on through December and January and into February, even extending a deadline to a "real" deadline which was February 14.
Grieshaber wound up with a compensation package of a salary of $84,000, no monthly housing allowance, no super majority on firing, a lowered separation package, and a diminished retirement contribution.
At the outset in negotiations, he was talking about a salary in excess of $100,000, an extraordinarily generous housing allowance ($2,000 a month), very large retirement contribution, and a platinum parachute if he were fired.
In February, at the "drop dead" point in the negotiations, Ockunzzi, R.B. Johnson and Jeremiah Carmody voted to approve the offer Grieshaber (after some more confusion) finally took.
Commissioners Jim Palamara and Jean Scott voted no.
Carmody and Scott have since been replaced by Jose Coppen and Ed Piniero.
Return to Home Page
Return to Current Edition