Happy Monday! Let’s discuss:
—Mayor Joe Meek called a special meeting of the Crystal River City Council for 10 a.m. Monday when the city manager is apparently being shown the door.
Doug Baber, hired in June from Mexico Beach, has found disfavor with council members. It must be pretty bad for city types to want to toss him after just six months on the job.
I didn’t get to know Doug that much. We had a Cattle Dog chat soon after he came on board, and he seemed like a decent enough fellow.
But almost immediately, I started hearing stuff about his past performances. I never got into it in the blog because the information was disjointed, and really difficult to pinpoint.
Here’s what I do know:
No one wants to be reminded of this today, but it's a red flag for a city that, in the last 15 years has sought to erase the prior 20 years of governmental ineptitude.
Crystal River had the infamous reputation of hiring and firing city managers. Andy Houston was the first manager during that time to retire on his own instead of being pushed out the door. Two managers, including Ken Frink, followed Houston and it seemed like Crystal River was righting the ship.
Then politics showed up.
City Manager Frink and Councilwoman Cindy Guy began dating. When they decided to marry, the city attorney said either Frink couldn’t be manager, or Guy (now Cindi Frink) couldn’t be councilwoman, because of a conflict of interest.
Everyone expected Cindi to leave office. Certainly made better sense than Ken quitting a full-time job, right?
That didn’t happen. Rather than risk someone being elected who did not have the city’s best interest in mind, Cindi stayed in office and Ken left the city manager’s slot.
Ken Frink, as we know, was appointed to the Council after Pat Fitzpatrick’s death. And now he is planning a School Board run.
The city hired Baber at Ken Frink’s recommendation. They had met at some conference of city managers, and when Baber heard Frink was leaving the Crystal River city manager’s job, he inquired about it.
And now, six months later, the city is considering a “separation” agreement with Baber. Unless the city has a different agreement in mind these things rarely turn out well for taxpayers.
Here’s hoping whatever happened with Baber is addressed, and the city moves on.
— The Library Governing Board (five commissioners, one Crystal River councilman, and one Inverness councilwoman) meets at 9 a.m. Monday to choose five members of the library advisory board.
Our nemesis John “Library Guy” Labriola is one of 23 applicants, as are four of the five current board members.
It’s hard to see the governing board members doing anything but reappointing the four and adding someone with significant library experience, but it’s best not to assume anything.
Should be old hat by now, but only Commissioner Diana Finegan has shown any interest in promoting Library Guy or his minions. Let’s hope it stays that way.
— Finally, our Governor will not be President. Ron DeSantis dropped from the presidential race on Sunday after finishing second in the Iowa caucus.
DeSantis quickly endorsed Trump, as did our state Sen. Blaise Ingoglia, who was and is DeSantis’ biggest cheerleader.
That’s great, but geez, is there anything hollower than the endorsement of a losing political candidate? One minute, your opponent is hogwash. The next minute, he’s my guy!
I’m just spitballing. DeSantis hasn’t spent much time in Florida while running for president, so he’s likely a little rusty at being in charge. Meanwhile, it appears Crystal River is in need of a city manager.
Crystal River had the rare privilege of hosting DeSantis after Hurricane Idalia, and he spent time with Mayor Meek. With a minimal amount of training and some patience, DeSantis could be a decent city manager.
Nah. The city needs someone with experience.
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Mike Wright has written about Citrus County government and politics for 36 years.