As the New Year looms, we look back at how questions about top management of Pasco County and its two westside municipalities were a major issue in 2013.
For Pasco County, the task was finding a replacement for John Gallagher, who retired after more than three decades as county administrator. Gallagher was hoping to hand off the job to Michele Baker, whom he had named his chief assistant. The county commission, however, had other ideas and went in search of someone they hoped would be a star. They found him, they thought, in Tommy Gonzalez, then the city manager of Irving, Texas. Gonzalez visited Pasco after he emerged as the commissioners’ top favorite, but in the end said no thanks, at which point commissioners, wisely, gave the job to Baker after all.
Meanwhile, the city manager’s job remains vacant in New Port Richey. City council members weren’t bowled over by the people who applied to replace John Schneiger, who abruptly resigned in October 2012 with the city’s financial woes seemingly mounting and no easy fix apparent. Council decided to resume the city manager hunt in 2014 and are considering whether it needs to dangle a heftier salary to attract better candidates. “Sometimes you get what you pay for,” Councilman Jeff Starkey said.
Meanwhile, the city continues to operate under the interim leadership of library director Susan Dillinger.
In Port Richey, Tom O’Neill continues, following a 30-day suspension, as city manager despite being charged by the State Attorney’s Office with driving under the influence. We trust he won’t give council members reasons to regret their forbearance.