For Pasco County, a pair of departures from the public sector, one voluntary, the other not, were two of the big stories of 2012. In both cases, 2013 should be interesting.
The involuntary departure was that of Heather Fiorentino as superintendent of schools. For years, Fiorentino found favor with voters, first as a New Port Richey City Council member, then as a state representative and finally superintendent. This year, however, she was trounced in the Republican primary by former Pasco elections supervisor and Florida Secretary of State Kurt Browning.
It appears that a pair of factors — the school district's continuing money problems caused by years of revenue decreases, and increasing student testing and teacher evaluation requirements from Tallahassee — helped sour nearly everyone on Fiorentino.
Browning faces the same problems. He will have to be skillful if he is going to keep them from becoming his political problems as well.
The voluntary 2012 exit was John Schneiger's abrupt resignation as New Port Richey city manager. Although Schneiger left the city's employ without comment, the word around City Hall was he had been worn down dealing with the city's many financial problems — pretty much none of which were of his making — and didn't think he had the support of a majority of city council members for his efforts to deal with New Port Richey's version of the fiscal cliff.
The city council has decided to retain a "headhunter" job-search firm to help identify potential replacements for Schneiger. We remain anxious to see who will want the job.