A little political intrigue for your Wednesday.
The Tuesday, March 8 county commission agenda includes a possible separation agreement with County Administrator Randy Oliver.
It’s an interesting proposal: Everyone agrees to fire the administrator without cause, effective immediately, so he can receive 20 weeks severance.
Board Chairman Ron Kitchen Jr., who despises scheduled “time certain” agenda items, nonetheless set this one for 1:40 p.m.
The agenda item reads: “Discussion of the Role of the BOCC and the Administrator and Consider Separation Agreement with County Administrator.”
It doesn’t say who placed this on the agenda, other than “Board of County Commissioners.” The separation agreement is clearly written by a lawyer and prepared for signatures from Kitchen and Oliver. Who did this and from whose direction? The agenda item doesn’t say.
We get a glimpse that Kitchen is behind it because the “agenda memorandum” that accompanies each item has his name on it. And this is what it says:
“It is important that all parties know and understand their roles in any organization. Only, with that understanding will an organization function at optimum efficiency. Consider Separation Agreement with the County Administrator.”
That’s all to glean from the published agenda.
Now, before going any further, I’ve got to say: Chairman Kitchen would never let a commissioner get away with such nonsense on the agenda. Jimmie T. Smith is rolling over in his political grave watching this play out — with Kitchen no less, who gave Smith endless grief about vague agenda items.
Enough of that. Back to what may happen March 8.
Oliver submitted his resignation in January but told commissioners he’d hang on until November if necessary to help transition in his replacement.
Commissioner Holly Davis tangled with Kitchen about how to go about getting the new administrator, then at the board’s Feb. 22 meeting, lashed out at Oliver over his handling of an employee work survey that showed employee dissatisfaction in a number of areas but never had any follow up.
Now, out of the blue, Kitchen wants to lecture commissioners about their “roles.” And terminate Oliver’s contract without cause to give him severance.
(By the way, nothing on the agenda for what happens if that actually all takes place.)
Just Wright Citrus last Friday covered the employee survey snafu. In a Chronicle story the next day, Kitchen said he’d had enough.
“Randy’s fed up with it, I’m fed up with it and we’re going to get it all out in public,” Kitchen said, according to Mike Bates’ story.
I wondered what he meant by the “Randy’s fed up, I’m fed up” comment. So I asked to view Kitchen’s emails for last Thursday and Friday to see if Oliver had reached out to him in disgust with a change in plans for his departure.
There was no such email. But I did find something that gave me pause.
It was this email Kitchen sent Friday morning to County Attorney Denise Dymond Lyn:
“Denise, I am making a public records request for all emails to the county administrator since February 18th. Please provide them as emails to me.”
Yes, commissioners make public records requests of the county occasionally. The county commission actually made it a rule some years ago to stop Scott Adams from asking for everything under the sun when it wasn’t board business.
But unless you’re a board renegade, like Adams or Jimmie T. Smith, it doesn’t happen very often. I have never seen Kitchen go this route.
Obviously he’s looking for something, possibly something he already knows is there.
So of course on Monday I made the same public records request word for word for the exact emails Kitchen received.
I got them late Monday afternoon and am still going through the batch. Something’s afoot. Stay tuned.
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Mike Wright has written about Citrus County government and politics for 36 years.