Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Sarasota Flip-Flops on Leader

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Sarasota Flip-Flops on Leader

Article excerpt

CITY MANAGER: After sending finalists packing, commission changes tune


After telling all three city manager finalists to hit the road last month, commissioners have had a change of heart.

Desperate to find a leader after hearing the interim city manager will soon leave, commissioners want to ask the candidates if they will take Sarasota back.

During a special meeting Tuesday, board members said they made a mistake when they dumped the candidates they had been courting to search far and wide for someone better.

That move meant the city could go about a year without solid leadership after the forced resignation of city manager Robert Bartolotta in January.

"I think that we couldn't pick one of them says more about us than it does about them," said Commissioner Terry Turner, whose comments echoed the public's unrest as the board struggles to get along on key city issues.

"If we can't develop a sense of compromise on this commission, we're never going to find a candidate," he added.

There was no vote in the end, but commissioners agreed that during Monday's meeting they will try harder to build consensus to hire a permanent city manager.

What has already been an unusually painful process got yet more awkward Tuesday as commissioners fumbled over what the next move should be.

Vice Mayor Willie Shaw looked to scripture, a verse about patience. Commissioner Terry Turner looked to the past, the candidates they could have hired if only commissioners had talked more.

Mayor Suzanne Atwell, who scheduled the meeting, looked to the deputy city manager the board already overlooked.

Commissioner Paul Caragiulo looked to Monday's meeting, when the board already was going to discuss the hire of a permanent city manager.

"I don't understand why we had to discuss that today, anyway," Caragiulo said after the meeting.

The fifth commissioner, Shannon Snyder, looked bored.

He said nothing at the dais, but after the meeting said: "I'm not going to be bullied or pushed into a consensus because everyone thinks we need to make a decision."

Snyder was the first to suggest last month that the list of finalists be tossed out -- a plan that could have worked if Interim City Manager Terry Lewis had agreed to stay on through the end of the year. …

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