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Hometown Idol vs. Proven Manager: Flagler Beach Commission Splits Over Its Next Pick

| September 16, 2010

Just before the commission faced the circus. (FlaglerLive)

There’ll be another round of interviews for Flagler Beach city manager. Three candidates—Bruce Campbell, a local, Gary Word and Edward Sealover—will be invited back for a second round on Sept. 29 at 1 p.m. Scott Janke, who had been the front-runner, is out. (For a minute–by-minute account of the discussion, see here).

In what turned into something of a circus—the full-house chambers interrupting with applause and just a few verbal outburst, one commissioner being piped in by phone and the others alternating between exasperation and consensus—the commission late Thursday evening hobbled forward in its fractured search for a new city manager.

First, the commission accepted candidate Janke’s withdrawal from contention. Janke is the former Fort Myers Beach city manager who was fired down there last year when his wife was outed as a porn actress. He was the front-runner here until an X-rated DVD starring his wife surfaced last week, allegedly featuring him (Janke says without his permission).

A majority of the crowd in the chamber, judging from loud applause, wanted Bruce Campbell to be hired. He’s a building maintenance worker with Flagler Beach who spent many years as the president of his own company in Ohio. His candidacy literally built into a political campaign. Campbell was ranked first on the two-name shortlists of Commissioners Steve Settle and Ron Vath. Vath, absent since mid-August, decided to make an appearance by phone at tonight’s meeting. He did not participate in any of the interviews. It’s unclear whether he listened to recordings of the interviews the city sent him. He did say that he’d be back in town on Oct. 7.

But Commissioner Joy McGrew spoke several times, and forcefully, against the political movement behind the Campbell candidacy. “I feel like y’all are jamming Bruce Campbell down my throat, and that if nothing else backs me into a corner and makes me fight harder,” McGrew said.

bernie murphy

Lucky him: the outgoing Bernie Murphy. (FlaglerLive)

She had support from Commissioner Jane Mealy and County Commission Chairman John Feind. None of them felt that Campbell’s lack of public experience would necessarily serve the city.

After several procedural motions, the commissioners agreed to narrow down the list of candidates to Word, Sealover and Campbell. Briefly, Caryn Miller’s name and Mike Evans’ name, both locals, reappeared on short-lists, but they didn’t make the final cut.

Earlier in the evening, Commissioner Settle attempted to hire Campbell immediately, on an interim basis, arguing that he could be hired—that he was willing to be hired—without a contract, and therefore could be fired at any point, the moment the commission decided that he was not cutting it. Settle credited McGrew for the idea, though the commissioners had never discussed that possibility in the open. Settle got support from Vath. But it was at that point that McGrew first jumped in to voice what she later termed as “fears” that Campbell is not prepared to manage the city, having spent his executive career in the private sector.

When Settle’s motion was put to a vote, it failed, with just Settle’s and Vath’s vote in favor.

The Campbell candidacy was kept alive as Feind labored to a consensus on the other option: re-interview the remaining three names at the top of commissioners’ lists.

There is no clear way forward. There is a clear split on the commission, and the possibility of a stalemate, with Feind, McGrew and Mealy on one side, and Settle and Vath on the other. The next manager must be hired with a four-vote majority.

“We’re not crackers anymore and old Florida is dead,” Bob Chase, a member of the public, told the commission after its deliberations. “This is a business. You are a board of directors and we’ll have a CEO,” he said, words that McGrew, Feind and Mealy don’t quite agree with when they make a distinction between public government and private business.

“I don’t take this seat lightly. This is my town. I’ve lived here 30 years,” McGrew concluded, saying she won’t be making any decisions lightly. She invited anyone who thinks it’s easy to run the city to serve their time–to run for the commission.

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25 Responses for “Hometown Idol vs. Proven Manager: Flagler Beach Commission Splits Over Its Next Pick”

  1. Diane J Cline says:

    I never understood why some of our Commissioners thought that an applicant for the City Manager position should have government experience under their belts to qualify them for the job.

    I get it now.

    Our government/city has made 4 million dollars surplus from our water/storm water/garbage/sewer.

    Profit like that is unheard of in the private sector…and to think I thought we needed a businessman at the helm.

    FOUR MILLION DOLLARS!!! SURPLUS!!!! Where is Dan when we needed him?

  2. John Smith says:

    Well Cline you do not what you are talking about. YOU are the ONE that says the city employees DO NOT deserve a raise or a bonus for their part in saving the money that they do for the city ( you the people of the public do not have a clue just how good you have it with the group of people that you have doing your dirty work). It has been 3 yrs since they have got a raise of any kind, with the change in insurance company the city did to SAVE money That I am sure you do not care about their cost has went up $50 that comes out of their pocket not the cities. YOU people can not live for FREE if you do not like it move somewhere where you can live for free. Before you complain as you did in your email you might talk to someone other than Campbell. Any money that the city has in a surplus is saved by your city employees in scrimping and working hard with less to get through this time as you call it.

  3. John Smith says:

    And yes you need to have someone that knows how to manage people in doing work not sitting back as a CEO collecting the money that the workers did doing the work for them. We do NOT need another part time manager. Ron Vath should have NOTHING to do with this selection since his is somewhere else and not here taking care of his elected duties. Go Joy I am proud of you, please do not let them cram Campbell down our throats as they wish. We need a Pro doing the job not a city worker.

  4. Kip Durocher says:

    What amusment ~ what fun. The Keystone Kops are still with us. “old Florida is dead,” Bob Chase. That is truly a shame, Florida was a nice place to live. This is more interesting than the Washington circus. It’s local.
    Someone should teach the city hall employees to use google and things like Janke will not pop up.
    And to top it all off ~ we get vath via telephone after a month gone AWOL.
    4 star production ~ amateur night at the elk’s club. Kudos to all the “players.”

  5. elaygee says:

    You elected these bozos to make decisions and these are the kind of decisions bozos make. Surprised they don’t carpool to meetings in a clown car.

  6. curious says:

    As I sat through the discussion last night I felt litteraly in themiddle of “As the Stomach Turns”. Bravo Joy, John and Jane for not letting them shove Campbell down your throats. However, shame on you all for not taking another look at the most logical candidate, Mrs. Miller. You all claim you prefer a local person, you have claimed in open meetings that she does a wonderful job, yet you forgot last night all that she has done for our City. To a lot of residents and by the way… voters…. she is the best person for the job. Yet, I watched her stand in the audience through your discussion as a professional that understands the political games you all play. Obviously her loyalty and hard work have no meaning to this Town and our elected people would rather choose someone that will live in the City part time or is “shy” or has his own political following of less than 1% of our population to run a City that is better today than it was 3 years ago thanks to the hard work and dedication of one person. Jane said it correct. Diane Cline made comments last night that prove someone in the private sector has no clue about government. Bravo Jane. Bravo Linada Provencher… grants….. who has brought all that money to our town/ You , thise elected by us need to rethink your priorities. The City is about to go back 5 years to the old turmoil we got out of. It is a sad day.

  7. Mike Sebag says:

    Could someone please answer the question about, “Does the city have a surplus of 4 million”! If so, where did it come from??

  8. John Smith says:

    I do not think that we all want Miller at city manager. She can not handle the CRA job under control of herself as it is. Why is there such a push for someone local UNLESS these people that are pushing for their OWN AGENDA to have someone they can push around in city hall. This is NOT a popularity position or another elected position to fill. WE NEED A Professional manager in there. I hope the three commissioners stick to their guns and not give in. Ron Vath should NOT have a Vote in this. Just pick a pro thats it. As for the surplus there is one but not 4 million its more like 900,000 to 1,000,000. coming from the enterprise fund which has nothing to do with your taxes.

  9. Arlene Lawlor says:

    I live in Flagler Beach and attended my first commission meeting on Thursday evening. So many adjectives to describe this experience and the best I can do is…….

    I do not know any of our commissioners personally but I do know Bruce Campbell. I can understand the feeling that several of the commissioners have about Bruce being shoved down their throats. Because this is politics, everyone is not going to agree. And it seems that the majority of commissioners are not in favor of the supporters of Bruce. I agree with them as well, in that, Bruce does not have any Government experience. Zip-Zero- None. But, government work is not rocket science and Bruce is not stupid…..actually, he is very intelligent. His resume’, track record and interview prove that. And he is local. Oh, I forgot, he has no Government experience.

    Commissioner Settle suggested the perfect solution. Just give him a chance, no contract, six months, (commissioner Vath suggested one year) and see if it works out. A win/win situation. After the motion was seconded, a consensus could not be reached. Amazing. It was then that I realized, even with a second interview, Bruce does not have a chance. Remember, he has no government experience. And again, being politics, reaching a consensus seems impossible. It also seems that because of that and the people who support him, a few commissioners might prefer going to their grave than give Bruce Campbell an opportunity. This is unfortunate and sad because they will never know that Bruce would go to his grave giving 100% plus to work for the good of Flagler Beach.

    So….appoint an unknown outsider because of experience. Appoint an interim because of experience. But do not, under and circumstances appoint Bruce Campbell… because of his lack of experience.
    Hmmmmmmm….probably a little more to it than that….After all, like it or not, it is politics.

  10. Arlene, I’n glad you attended the meeting last night. You got to see POLITICS in action when Joy McGrew said, “I feel like y’all are jamming Bruce Campbell down my throat, and that, IF NOTHING ELSE, backs me into a corner and makes me fight harder.”

    Some of these people in Flagler Beach say that City Manager isn’t political……the people interested in seeing a well deserving individual have a chance to enhance the city, went to a commissioners’ meeting and we made it politics? McGrew said that she had sat in our seats and now she sits in a commissioner’s seat. Well, politics got her that seat and she isn’t listening to the people who put her in that seat. WOW is certainly appropriate.

  11. Diane J Cline says:

    I’m glad you new folks came…it was in the paper they were going to take 3% from the Utility Enhancement Fund which amounted to $70,000. I thought that meant 2 million was in the fund. Math is not my strong point so I asked Mr. Feind how much was in the fund. He said he didn’t know (shame on him) and Mr. Murphy said 4 million and I was almost speechless…glad I had my notes.

    My issue is that I believe they raised our “water” rates and set that money aside (without the town’s permission) to help build the new City Hall which is now off the table. And, then, proceeded to act like they had won the lottery and bought very important stuff.

    But, I don’t know anything about government. Did the tooth fairy give it to us?

  12. John Smith says:

    I say again it seems that this is a popularity contest for city manager. The people have NO say in who is city manager. They elected the 5 to do the job ( OH wait a minute the 5th one is in IOWA working for FEMA making his choice, thats 1200 miles from FB). There sure must be that great agenda that everyone of Campbells supporters who are wanting him in there for. I can see the favoritism now. It is government and he has NO experiance other than beng a maitenance man hammering nails in the walkovers or reading water meters. Stay the coarse commissioners Mealy, Fiend, and Megrew do not let them intimidate you into this choice, we need a new face to come into town and not have any locals running his or her position by keeping promises they made for the job.

    Cline you need to get over the money. You need to that Miller for all that you see downtown thats where the money went.

  13. John Smith says:

    Well also when you all bring up how Settles says give him a chance I would imagine that is because they are almost neighbors and Settles is having to keep the neighborhood votes for him. Is Settles saying Campbell will to do the job at his current pay scale. Well yes sir that sounds like a good idea lets see that would be about a 50 to $70,000 savings. As Cline says the employees do not deserve a raise or bonuses so maybe that won’t be a bad deal.

  14. art woosley says:

    Please John, if you must comment every ten minutes at least use your real name.

  15. hogdick says:


  16. John Smith says:

    Hey Art, I am pretty sure thats my name. For you to come back on it must be hitting a sore spot huh. Been here 23 yrs, I believe thats 11 yrs longer than you and have seen alot of commissions come and go but never seen you on a commission seat but just there to complain. What are you upset about Art? The fact that Vath is not here putting his 2cents in getting your man in there or the money issue with Cline. And yes I will be stating the truth as I see it just like the rest, but I will be on the side of my city not letting anyone disrespect it as you and the rest of this bunch likes to do.

  17. John Smith says:

    And yes Art every 10 minutes if need be.

  18. starfyre says:

    there is nothing wrong in this city……its the people in the city that suck

  19. JA Block says:

    You all should go to Disney World and make a choice since you are acting like you live in Mickey’s world. Shame on you all.

  20. 1Intheknow says:

    It’s one thing to ‘try’ to lie to the press and tell them that home videos were ‘stolen’ and mass produced and sold without your permission, but it’s quite another to lie to potential employers, who DO have attorneys on staff and who could, with one mere phone call, find out whether Mr. Janke was lying. Anyone with half a brain knows that even the adult entertainment world would never make, let alone, release such footage without having ALL participants’ signatures. Janke & his wife are starting to remind me of Heidi and Spender Pratt: Legends In Their Own Minds.

  21. preacher says:

    Now lets look at the home town idol . this is the guy that tryed to get the union started in flagler beach which got voted down .now you have people going door to door campaigning for him and trying to get a petition signed and they are bad mouthing the city commissioners in there speach to get you to sign it . what kind of promises have been made by the idol????what private agenda is in the mist???why do we need a C E O ??? we need a city manager that will do the best to manage the town the right way that has the experience . We do not need one that has not made promises that they cant keep becauce they do not know how the city goverment works !!! It is up to the commission to make the choice that is why it was not on the election ballet .thank god the mayor and three of the commissioners have a back bone!!!!

  22. Bigfoot says:

    If, indeed, Bruce Campbell is supporting and promoting a union for city employees in this little town, then the work ethic would die even further, wages would increase, and we would become totally a “20 year and out with generous benefits” employer. No one is ever dismissed, even with just cause.

  23. JoAnne Ricardi says:

    I invite all of you to attend the 2nd interviews tomorrow Sept. 29 starting at 2PM and decide for yourselves. We have had the professionals with the experience several times. Problem: they do not become part of the fabric of our community and they are often already looking for the next place to increase their pay. Bruce Campbell is the only one of the three who is not interviewing for another city and who will live here,not travel. Check out how much we paid Mr Murphy to travel only to Ormond. See you tomorrow at @2PM?

  24. Phil Berchen says:

    Many long-term residents of Flagler Beach have been hoping and praying for a credentialed city-manager with excellent business experience and who is very familiar with our quaint little city. We now have such an individual in Bruce Campbell, thus we are making a sincere plea to our city commissioners to put and end to the divissiveness that has worsened and give honest consideratiion to our plea.

  25. John Smith says:

    You people that are wanting Campbell in there all have agendas behind your thinking. Everyone of you have been battle the city on many items so this is just another item. If you all don’t like leave. I’ll be there and doing my best to keep Campbell out of the picture. I BEG my commissioners to not give into your way of thinking. On one hand you people are upset because we have a surplus and saying why is it, next you say we are not a business and should not have a surplus. I can see that We will scratch Campbells back and he will make the city employees do our bidding on many Items because we all his supporters put him in there. I pray and I beg please commissioners do not give into this. Campbell is out of the picture as far as I am concerned. This is just another step by the concerned citizens group to get there people back in power and ruin this city again.

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