Cottrell, Apparently Sensing Problems, Withdraws From Seeking IRB Manager Post
by Leo Coughlin
INDIAN ROCKS BEACH - Disappointment swept through this city late last week when it was revealed that Steve Cottrell, serving as interim city manager, had withdrawn from consideration for a full-time appointment.
Cottrell, former town manager of Belleair for almost a decade, is a seasoned and veteran professional.
Although his withdrawal was stated in polite and diplomatic terms and he expressed appreciation for his experience of the past several months in his interim time on the job, apparently Cottrell saw land mines in signing up with IRB on any permanent basis.
It is known that he was not entirely happy with some things that had taken place.
Significantly, Cottrell was not at last week's commission meeting. It was said he was sick, but observers noted that if "a fellow really wants a job he would be there come high tide or big winds."
So Friday's revelation by Cottrell in a letter to the City Commission did not come as a shocking surprise.
As a top-flight professional, Cottrell would not have tolerated any micro-managing, behavior that drove Tom Brobeil out of the job a couple years ago.
His replacement, John Coffey, rather young and unseasoned, was taken advantage of and was forced out of the job.
Al Grieshaber came on the scene almost two years ago and left back in January.
There hasn't been any real stability in Indian Rocks Beach since Bob DiNicola left as mayor. What was once a more or less peaceful town with a relatively stable city government has become a city riven with controversy and bitterness.
Some improvement was made in the March election with Bert Valery and Terry Hamilton-Wollin being elected to the commission, ousting Jim Palamara and Ed Piniero. This crippled the stranglehold Mayor Bill Ockunzzi had on the commission and that situation is still being sorted out.
The commission came close to discussing contract terms with Cottrell late in June but that was put off until July 24 because of the absence of a commission member.
Cottrell appeared to be favored for the manager job by a majority of the commission, and his assuming the job would have been a big step in bringing back normalcy to the city and getting away from the muddled uproar that seems to be going on.
Cottrell agreed in his notice last week to stay on as interim manager and assist in any way in the search and hiring of a city manager. "I will continue as long as you wish to have me," he said in his letter.
The sentiment among many in the city is that Indian Rocks Beach lost a great opportunity with Cottrell relinquishing his chance at the job.
He would have been an excellent choice as city manager, but in recent days there were hints of some disquietude. Apparently the nature of how a manager-commission form of government functions is lost on some.
Ideally, and with good sense abounding, the elected body leaves the manager alone, does not fiddle with his operations and is content to supervise overall performance and set policy.
Unfortunately, that has not been the case in Indian Rocks Beach since Brobeil was run off.
In its meeting July 10, the commission vote was erroneously reported in the Gazette as unanimous on the matter of setting a millage rate. In fact, the vote was 4-1, with Mayor Bill Ockunzzi the single no vote.
Return to Home Page
Return to Current Edition