|Former Manatee Commissioner Joe McClash
BRADENTON – Former Manatee County Commissioner Joe McClash sent a scathing email to his former board and County Administrator Ed Hunzeker this week, deploring the new contract the BOCC recently approved for the county's top manager. McClash, who had negotiated Hunzeker's original contract with the county, called the new agreement “irresponsible” and said that it set a bad precedent for the future.
McClash, who was narrowly defeated in a Republican primary last August, said that while he did not always agree with Hunzeker, he had been impressed that the county administrator never took a pay raise while county employee's wages were frozen because of budget constraints. But McClash said that the apparent change in leadership philosophy was a concern and that "greed" has seemed to take a priority.
“It is a hypocrite that tells people we cannot afford a little extra for the neediest, but can afford to give himself unbudgeted money from our reserves," wrote McClash, who served 22 years on the commission. The former commissioner said that ultimately it is Hunzeker who decides whether to accept the new contract and implored the administrator to set an example by not accepting the raise and other lavish benefit perks that were not offered to other county employees.
During the meeting in which Hunzeker's contract was approved, former Manatee County Commissioners Patt Glass and Ron Getman spoke in favor of the terms. The board voted 5-2 to approve the new contract, which had been devised by Board Chair Larry Bustle. Commissioners Michael Gallen and Robin DiSabatino dissented over concerns that the significant costs to taxpayers, along with the dangers of setting a precedent which would likely be followed in future negotiations with port directors and county attorneys (the two other positions hired by the board) were prohibitive, especially given that Hunzeker still had a year and a half before he planned to retire and the board had not even tested the market for a less-costly replacement.
See the text of the full email below:
I just wanted to let you know how disappointed I am with your new contract.
Just like others, I may not have always agreed with your actions as a County Administrator, but I did respect the fact you were concerned about not taking any more benefits than the County employees. During these past few years I was impressed you never took a pay increase while the employees' pay was frozen because of budget constraints.
However, now you have changed your philosophy as a leader and that is a concern. Greed has taken a priority versus an example of a leader in your position. And it does not matter what Ernie had in his contract extension. Times were different! Today over $18 million from reserves has to cover our cost of government and now we have the unbudgeted cost of your revised contract to add to that loss. Shameful!
I blame you, not the board, since the ultimate decision was yours. It is a hypocrite that tells people we cannot afford a little extra for the neediest but can afford to give himself unbudgeted money from our reserves. As you would put it, your raise is the highest priority of all the needs in the County.
You could make things right and have the action reconsidered. You know as an administrator you would never have recommended any of these contract provisions as you carved out for yourself for someone else. Do the right thing as a leader and set the example for the County employees as you had in the past as their boss.
Leadership 101 teaches us that no one is irreplaceable. The next County Administrator will be able to manage the affairs in your absence, and possibly bring in new ideas just like you did when you came. The 18 months left under the present contract, certainly is long enough to find a person that is qualified.
No comments on this item
Only paid subscribers can comment
Please log in to comment by clicking here.