INDIAN ROCKS BEACH - It appears that Indian Rocks Beach is about to go through the nonsensical - as many observers believe - of hiring an "interim" city manager before hiring a full time manager.
A new manager is needed to take over the role of Al Grieshaber who took the city over the hurdles since August, 2005, and accomplished little while spending most of his time looking for another job.
Grieshaber gave 60-day notice of his leavetaking because he has accepted a job at a community called Sun 'n Lake, not a municipality.
When it was suggested that, since Grieshaber intended to leave, that he be let go immediately and thus save Indian Rocks Beach taxpayers thousands of dollar in his salary, members of the commission balked.
Through some acrobatic scheme of knowledge and logic unknown anywhere else in the universe, a majority of the IRB commission considers Grieshaber's notice a guarantee of employment for him for 60 days.
In the real world, unfinanced by taxpayer dollars, it does not work that way. Give notice and you can be asked to clear out that day maybe with two weeks pay.
But where dollars grow on trees - i.e., with municipalities in Pinellas County - there is always plenty more where that came from. County Commissioner Bob Stewart once made the erroneous statement that "our resources are limited."
Wrong. Governments have an unlimited supply of money. It is called taxes.
Usually an interim placement in a position comes from within the ranks of a city staff. For example, when Eric Meserve quit as IRB manager some years ago, the very able treasurer, Mary Karayianes, stepped in and filled the job on an interim basis and did a creditable and good job for months until the excellent Tom Brobeil was hired (IRB has had no stability since he left).
Grieshaber, whom IRB is well rid of (he was absent from his IRB job recently and over at Sun 'n Lake to meet with employees there, and no satisfactory explanation for his being AWOL has come forward yet).
Obviously, as critics of the commission's judgment see it, to hire an outside interim manager is to do the job twice. Why not, as Commissioner Jose Coppen, pointed out, launch a search for a city manager who would fill the post without an interim tag.
Interim has the quality of "emergency"; "fill-in"; "temporary."
What qualified city manager type would take the job on that basis unless he or she operated on the basis that Grieshaber (who came to IRB as an interim manager) operates?
The data indicate that Grieshaber used IRB for home base while he searched for other jobs. In the beginning, when his position was to become permanent, the city charter requires the manager to be a member of the city managers association.
This is for the purpose of professionalism and integrity.
Grieshaber was not a member of the group, a fact overlooked for reasons unknown by IRB's city lawyer, Andy Salzman. Thus, his appointment was flawed and not in accordance with the law ab initio. It would seem Salzman should have been flawless on this.
But the commission has set a January 15 deadline for applications and has decreed that the base starting salary will be $80,000. The hope among wiser heads is that there won't be an interim manager, but full time.
Among four applications received as of last week was Steve Cottrell, who most recently served as manager in Belleair. IRB's commission would do well to give Cottrell a hard look. He is an excellent man and thorough professional.
Because he is a professional and has a certain independence, that quality may be a negative because the thought is that one member of the commission wants to dominate whoever is in the city manager's office.
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