Thursday, June 27, 2013

Glades County Manager Fired Suddenly

Thomas Corbitt Now Unemployed After Less Than 90 Days On Job

MOORE HAVEN, FL. -- Another shake up in Glades county Tuesday as the Board of County Commissioners voted to fire the recently appointed County Manager, Thomas Corbitt.

The Board moved to terminate employment of County Manager Thomas Corbitt without cause with a 3-2 vote with a motion by Commissioner Griffin, second by Commissioner Beck and third vote by Vice Chairman Storter. Chairman Echols while Commissioner Stanley dissented.

Commissioner Donna Storter Long explained termination “without cause” means no reason is required and in fact in order to prevent jeopardy of the county in violating the liberty interests of the employee being terminated, reason cannot be given. In this case, Tom Corbitt was still under a 90-day probationary period in his employment contract and no reason is required for dismissal.

Corbitt had made several changes in the organizational structure of the county employees and had requested more changes, and had requested changes in limits to his spending authority without going to the County Commission for permission.

By a 4-1 vote with Chairman Echols dissenting, the Board appointed Road Sup’t Avant Brown and Deputy County Manager Director of Public Safety Bob Jones to run the day-to-day operations of the county until further action from the Board, with DCMDPS Bob Jones to be the lead supervisor.

In response to Vice Chairman Storter’s request, County Clerk Sandra Brown agreed to prepare the agenda packets for the Board meetings until further action from the Board and to reestablish the item “Department Heads” on the Agenda along with “County Manager’.

How To Hire A New Manager?

Vice Chairman Storter initiated dialogue concerning the Board’s desire to recruit a county manager and emphasized that when advertising for a county manager that explicit qualifications should be named and applicants not meeting those qualifications should not even be considered by the Board and that the County Attorney and HR Director should be the ones to initially screen them. 

She said she didn't want to even see a resume of an applicant that did not meet the required qualifications.

The Board had previously advertised requirement of an educational degree or equivalent experience in local government and/or public administration, with a Master’s degree preferred. Storter stated that this should be explicitly clarified in the advertisement.

She also said she was “making a one-eighty turn” in that she now thought that Commissioner Beck and Chairman Echols were right during prior recruiting processes when they both felt that county residency should not be named as a requirement.

Commissioner Beck stated $10,000 was spent in the last hiring process and he felt that before we restarted the recruitment process the Board should go back to it's second choice, Noah Powers and see if he was still available as Mr. Powers had the qualifications advertised, had worked for two senators and had been an Assistant School Board Superintendent and had handled budgets much larger.

The Board consensus was to invite Mr. Powers to the next commission meeting for an interview and for County Attorney Pringle to prepare recruiting documents for the Board to review as well.

Other Items Before The Board

In other items heard at this week's meeting the Lake Okeechobee Habitat Alliance – Curry Island Project's Jeff Allen  reported to the Board that LOHA had received a $2 million grant to be administered by Florida's Department of Environmental Protection to perform a water quality enhancement Floating Aquatic Vegetation Tillage program.

Mr. Grandusky of the engineering firm Federico & Lamb explained that water will be pumped from Fisheating Creek to flood a 50-acre parcel on LOHA’s 2700-acre lease and will be contained by embankments for the purpose of growing hyacinths that will filter the water; when the hyacinth “crop” is mature, the area will be dewatered and the hyacinths tilled into the ground thus keeping unwanted excess nitrogen and phosphorus nutrients from entering Lake Okeechobee.

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