INDIAN ROCKS BEACH - An Indian Rocks Beach commissioner raised questions about the status of the city manager at the commission meeting May 23.
City Manager Al Grieshaber, it was discovered, had applied for the open job of county administrator in Citrus County. That fact was unearthed by Mayor Bill Ockunzzi and reported in the Clearwater Gazette May 25.
Commissioner Jose Coppen raised some questions at last week's commission about Grieshaber's status and future.
Coppen, noting that Grieshaber had stated, when his quest for a Citrus County job was discovered, that he was "certainly happy in Indian Rocks Beach; however, I have to look at opportunities to enhance my professional growth."
Grieshaber, who took the city manager reins last August after the commission drove John Coffey from office, was finally officially hired February 14.
Having been in office and fully official for only three months, one observer noted that Grieshaber more likely was looking for an opportunity "to enhance his wallet."
That statement did not come from Coppen, but he did sound the theme of loyalty May 23.
Coppen asked Grieshaber, "What kind of commitment are you willing to make?"
He also asked, rhetorically, "Is the city manager willing to give us an early-termination severance penalty if he does not stay three years?"
Coppen said, "Disloyalty should not be tolerated. If the city manager is interested in his professional growth, he should not mind paying us back for keeping him employed while he is looking for a better position."
Then Coppen hit the bottom line with a dire warning - "Unless we get a clarification from the city manager that he has withdrawn all job applications, I will present a motion that we renew the search for a new city manager."
Grieshaber also came under criticism by Coppen for what Coppen said was lack of action on some items that have been put on the table for the city manager to pursue.
Coppen wanted to know when a list of priorities for action would be presented to the city commission, and pointed out that this task was two months behind schedule.
He also wanted to know when work would be done to establish a Community Redevelopment Agency in the city, a project that Coppen considers essential.
Also raised was the status of the city's TV channel that Coppen has promoted since he took office in March. While Grieshaber says he has met at lunch with other officials on the subject, Coppen points out that he, himself, has supplied all the basic information to get a start on establishing the TV channel.
"This was one of my campaign priorities, so it's very disappointing that so little progress has been made. Last month, I met with the mayor of Belleair Beach and based on information from him, presented to the commission a priced equipment list of their system that cost five thousand dollars," Coppen said.
He continued, "Here it is a month later and there has been no known progress. IRB received a six thousand dollar grant from Bright House to get our own TV channel. If that money was diverted, it has to be put back in the budget."
Coppen called the delay unacceptable and advocated a simple TV system such as Belleair Beach has.
"We can decide later if we want to upgrade it," he said. "I don't want to see this project scuttled now by pricing a luxury TV station plus a cast of thousands to operate it."
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