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And Then There Were One and a Half: Flagler Beach Manager Pick Slims to Default

| October 20, 2010

brice campbell flagler beach city commission flaglerlive

Bruce Campbell, a utility man with Flagler Beach, is getting closer to the chamber, by default. (© FlaglerLive)

The Flagler Beach City Commission has been incapable of making up its mind over a new city manager. The decision is being made for it.

Two of the last three men in the running for the job have either taken a position elsewhere or are close to doing so, leaving Bruce Campbell, who works for Flagler Beach and is a particularly noisy local faction’s favorite for the job, the last man fully standing. That doesn’t necessarily mean the commission will choose him when it meets to decide the issue on Oct. 28.

The commission has been divided between those who want to hire a professional with proven public government experience, regardless of his provenance, and those who want to hire from within the city. Campbell has two drawbacks: he has no public government experience, though his private sector executive experience is not in dispute. And without his consent (but without his discouragement, either), a quasi political following has built around his candidacy, alienating several commissioners.

The three commissioners who want a professional manager are Commission Chairman John Feind and commissioners Joy McGrew and Jane Mealy. The commissioners who want a Flagler Beach pick are Steve Settle (who’d made up his mind on the matter before the interviews) and Ron Vath. The mayor, Alice Baker, is also favoring Campbell, though she doesn’t have a vote in the matter. To hire a manager, commissioners need a four-vote majority.

After starting with 140 candidates, narrowing them down to 12 and holding three series of interviews, commissioners were left with three men: Campbell, Gary Word–a professional manager in Surfside–and Edward Sealover, a retired manager who last worked as county coordinator in Nassau County, until April.

“I wanted to confirm that I have accepted another position as a county manager in South Georgia,” Sealover told FlaglerLive this morning.

gary word candidate for manager flagler beach

Gary Word (© FlaglerLive)

Contacted in Surfside later in the day, Word said he got an offer to be the city manager of Green Cove Springs–halfway between St. Augustine and Jacksonville–but that he had “some issues and concerns” with that offer, and was working them through. “I hope to have a decision one way or another,” Word said, before the Flagler Beach commission meets on Oct. 28. Meanwhile, he said he would like his name to remain in contention. Word, a careful, astute negotiator, would not say which way he was leaning, though it seemed clear that he was using the situation to his best advantage and negotiating matters on his terms in Green Cove Springs, with his still-viable candidacy in Flagler Beach as leverage.

As the choice is being made for the Flagler Beach commission, the making of a stalemate over the next manager now appears to be heading in one of two directions: Commissioners may, out of exasperation or embarrassment over their delays (they have known that they’d need a new manager since April 22, when Bernie Murphy announced his resignation), settle on Campbell. That would require both McGrew and Feind to switch position. McGrew has opposed the Campbell faction loudly and candidly. But she’s been sending signals that she might switch. Feind, who prizes consensus but bridles at political blackmail, would then be the swing vote. One likely outcome: a short contract for Campbell, of six months or a year.

The other option is to start the search anew and stick with Caryn Miller, the community redevelopment director, as the acting manager. That would trigger another round of howls from the public, whose derision toward the commission’s delays and prevarications has been getting louder and, on occasion, fouler.

But predicting what the Flagler Beach City Commission might do is like predicting Lady Gaga’s next wardrobe change.

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28 Responses for “And Then There Were One and a Half: Flagler Beach Manager Pick Slims to Default”

  1. John Smith says:

    Why give INTO Campbells group for 6 months when there is already a city manager doing the job, and could do the job for 6 months. Go ahead and start over, it wont be the first time. Caryn is doing a good job so far. We need the pro not a city employee.

  2. John Smith says:

    OH let me finish, and his group.

  3. Surfside's disaster says:

    You guys dodged a bullet not picking Word…….trust me!

  4. Kip Durocher says:

    That settles it – leave Caryn Miller in the job and make her permanent.
    Send Campbell down to my house to get some of this sand out of the street.

  5. Citizen says:

    This is so aggravating!!! I think it speaks volumes that other cities are snatching up these candidates. You may have actually found some people with the legitimate skills and experience to run Flagler Beach like a city instead of a fraternal organization. We do not need the hometown puppet in there appeasing Vath and Settles who is going to focus on maintaining his popularity.


  6. Kim Carney says:

    Why are you so anti-Campbell? You continually refer to him as the “maintenance man”. Why don’t you refer to him to what he is? Business owner (successful), Plant Manager, President and Executive of a company with $100,000,000 in revenue and over 1300 employees. You keep belittling his credentials. He should not be in the top 3 unless he has the credentials. Look at the job description. Change is difficult!

    • Flaglerlive says:

      Kim, Bruce right now is a maintenance man. That’s not to belittle him. (How is being a maintenance man belittling?) It’s to say accurately what he’s doing. Now. The article also notes that his private sector executive experience is not in dispute, as have previous articles, with details. These articles aren’t being written to shill for candidates, Kim. That’s other people’s jobs and they do it very well. Let us do ours. And if Bruce has an issue with his portrayals here, I’m sure that, as a seasoned executive, he needs neither hand-holding nor flacking on his behalf. If he does (which is doubtful), that would be out of character, and a hell of a strike against him.

  7. HSART says:

    What about the Assistant City Mgr.? What more does one have to say. He or She is already a City Employee, is familar with the daily responsibilities of the City Mgr, and can more than lickley step right up to the plate and continue, But No lets spend ChaChing, get someone outside the City and pull them strings untill he or she realizes there in the Twilight Zone and Haul Ass, or as we all know that FlaglerBeach anthom, “Another One Bites The Dust” No Disrespect to the person the Commision appointed as acting City Mgr., What a Kick in the Face that must be to the “Assistant” City Mgr. Put your self in those shoes, you would probably LEAVE, or am I just being Foolish?? Silly me, We have a City Mgr. and an Assistant City Mgr. The City Mgr. is leaving, Lets start a search! What Happens if our President leaves unexpectadlly Oh, Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa the Vice President takes over, Really!!!!! Cape Canaveral is Sooooo Close, Did someone Mention “ROCKET SCIENTIST” in Flagler Beach, NOT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. Concerned says:

    I surely hope our commissioners are smarter than choosing someone because they are the last person standing. I also think the remark Kim made was not very nice to someone that holds the job of maintenance man or person. That is like saying the janitor is not to be respected for what they do. It is being a bigot to say what you said, I guess an executive title makes you somebody to be respected? Give me a break, half the time they are just the figure head getting all the praise and glory that needs to go to the people that make them look good. Since he held such a position in Ohio I am sure he has money. I hope someone gets this position that needs the salary. Mainly, because we need jobs here. He has had his time working in the upper management position. My advice to him, stay semi-retired, let someone else do the job. The turn off for me has been the political following! I’ll say it again, START OVER!!! I am tired of hearing and reading about Campbell. Kim said, “change is difficult”. No, we aren’t fighting change, we are fighting this person being shoved down our throats.

  9. Concerned says:

    One more thing, I don’t think Word is our answer either. Let him go to Green Cove Springs.

  10. Roger says:

    Hey Bruce! Great “pic”! Guess the secret’s out man. When you get the job, with all that money, you can change the name from Flagler Beach to Bruce’s Beach! You go dude! I’m rootin’ for ya!

  11. Flagler Surf says:

    The devil you know is better than the devil you don’t know. Many of these managers “being snatched up” travel from job to job like gypsies. Even though they get fired at one place, the miraculously appear in another with none of their new bosses ever checking any accounts of the performance on their last job except what they put on their resume. Take Gary Word for instance. Trouble in Islamorada and trouble in Surfside who gave him an extra $90,000 to get the hell out of there.

  12. NortonSmitty says:

    I think it is very important that we pick someone who lives in the city instead of one of these generic governing gypsies that jump from town to town with the generic gameplan they learned in City Management 101. We are not your average town, and tha’ts the way we like it. We have our own unique charachter, our own stregnths and our problems. We are a funky little beach town, and proud of it, don’t want to change it.

    Bruce has chosen to live here for years. He even took a job beneath his skill level to stay here. That speaks well of him for me. I have met him personally and he seems to be an honorable man. I think that these days a background in government service is not seen as an asset by many.

    What’s the hold up? Appoint him already, stop playing small town political games and let him get to work.

  13. Kip Durocher says:

    “He even took a job beneath his skill level to stay here.”
    I thought his private industry career was wildly successful and lucrative for him? Why take a menial job just to stay here? I think he came here with an agenda. I think he is clearly on course with his agenda.

    A person who feels a lack of any experience in government service, not politics, government civil service, is a good thing, is a very ill informed person.

    Profit is the only goal of private industry – at the expense of employees healthcare, at the expense of employee retirement plans, at the expense of product quality – PROFIT ~ is king.

    Service to the taxpayer is king in government service. Bringing these services to the taxpayer at or under budget is part of the process. Therein lies the relationship of the City Manager to the City Commission.

    The goal of the Flagler Beach Fire Department, done very well I might add, is to save lives not make money.

  14. NortonSmitty says:

    So part of his nefarious plan was to work as a maintenance department employee for how many years? Maybe he just liked it here and had enough money to allow him to live and work here, I don’t know. But chalking it up to some “agenda” seems quite a stretch.

    I’m not one of the new anti-gov’t zealots, and agree with you that the Profit is king in private industry, often at the expense of society at large. But I don’t think there’s much opportunity for that in FB.

    As far as to how the Fire Dep’t got into the conversation, you lost me there Kip.

  15. Kip Durocher says:

    The fire department is but an analogy between private/public thought processes. Sorry to confuse you.

    Let’s cook up a plan to turn a hired employee position into a political litmus test. Then make something that was apolitical become totally political. Now agendas can be pushed.

    The hiring and firing of city managers is not something that calls for gathering lists of residents pro or con. If one does not like the actions of commission members then impeach them or don’t vote for them again. What is next ~ politicize the police chief? Then the main qualification is how many citizens like you ~ not how you have performed in the job. Sadly, I have seen this exact thing happen way too often.

    As far as opportunity in Flagler Beach goes, money is not the only currency used here. Other currencies are a means to an end, that end finally being dollars and cents real money. Or pushing the city around and getting your exorbitant demands met!

  16. Anonymous says:

    Here,Here KIP. I totally agree with you on this. The agenda is to get rid of the FIRE DEPT and THE PD along with any other service that they can think of to cut their taxes. Ask Art he will tell you. They have Vath and Settles in their corner, now with the city manager in there they will have the chance that they did not have with Bernie. It still takes the commission to vote on it but it could happen. We cannot let this happen we need everyone at Thursday Nights meeting to voice the NO to Campbell instead of all the pro Campbell agenda seeking group and stop this DISMANTLING of the LONG PAID FOR SERVICES THAT THE CITY HAS ALREADY PAID IN FULL FOR. They can stand there and deny and write on this blog all they want but the truth is the truth. Just look at the group that is trying to push #4 amendment, that tells who wants to have their say in everything that is being done. And Bruce will be their IN. Bruce is a nice guy just not for this city manager position.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Anyone that has been around FB for awhile should know of the group CCFB (former) atleast the large percent of the group that is supporting Campbell. Out of the 40 or so that leaves about 10 or 15 new members that don’t know who they are dealing with. They lie too and intimidate you to just go their way or the highway. It is not Campbell, it is his association with these people whom seem to be his strongest supporters that will be the ruin of this city. They all deny in writing or talking too that they exist but it is funny the same old things are trying to be done such as degrading the FD and the PD as Vath and Settles has tried to do but with no avail,Thanks to the other commissioners. If Vath and Settles wants to keep their seats they better think twice about swinging this way.

  18. J.T. Quigley says:

    Yeah, I bet your a Illuminati buff as well.

  19. Anonymous says:

    No just stating the facts. J T either a newby to town or you live in Palm coast or maybe you are one of those who are trying to hide their association with this group as well. DENY DENY DENY

  20. Anonymous says:

    I don’t expect a revelation here. There will always be pros and cons to things. I do find it sad and unfortunate though, that the residents in a city the size of Flagler Beach, cannot, will not, absolutely refuse to put a side their differences and embrace the fact that a local guy, with intelligence, integrity, ability, honesty, and an open mind (i could go on with the adjectives) can handle the position of City Manager. Why can we not ALL work together for the good of Flagler? Agree to disagree. Then make the best decisions for the city. Shame on everyone for not being excited to give Bruce this chance. Forget the “group” and the John Smith’s. I’m trusting our commissioners to make the right choice.

  21. Anonymous says:

    I am also trusting my commissioners to make the right choice just not Campbell

  22. NortonSmitty says:

    OK, I’ll admit to being somewhat of a newbie, having lived here only two years and am not familiar with the local factions. But this is the first time I’ve seen the subject of dismantling the Police and Fire Departments brought up as an issue in this matter, and frankly it is THE question.

    Having lived in a community in South Florida that made the mistake of contracting the County Sheriff to patrol the city, with the promise of saving the property owners a couple hundred dollars a year, I can’t begin to explain the innumerable ways this changed the character of the city. Having an impersonal rotating Police force with no connections to the community, no knowledge of the people they deal with and most importantly no incentive to even try, degraded the quality of that city in numerous ways both subtle and obvious. So much so that I moved here.

    And this was in a typical suburb with ten times the population we have here. Part of what makes us special is the Police, Fire, hell even the Garbagemen, are locals that know us, it’s really is unique, and what keeps us from being Palm Coast, or as I like to call it, New Jersey with rattlesnakes..

    It’s worth a few bucks a year. But the real punchline is that after the hired the Sheriffs and sold of all of the Police assets, when the initial 3 year contract was up, they tripled the fee, and they had to pass a big tax increase to get less. Same tactic used by Waste Management and the boys. Lowball the initial contract so they think it’s a great deal, and after they sell off the garbage trucks, you got ’em by the balls. Don’t fall for it!

    So, Commissioners, Bruce, I know you have to be reading this. We should know where you stand on this. Let us know here if you can, in chambers if you can’t. But don’t dodge it, it’s at the core of all this nervousness about the town we all love.

  23. Kip Durocher says:

    Could not agree more Smitty. I have seen the exact same thing. That is the m.o. of Waste Management and the ilk. Empire building at the expense of the taxpayer. This is one reason Ron Vath must go ~ now.
    He is the NUMBER 1 OFFENDER in this category. Understand he got a job with FEMA ~ good place for him ~ they don’t do anything anyway.
    I am begining to feel that a mistake was made with Settles ~ he may need to go before he get’s super glued to his chair.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Smitty you are the perfect witness to the out source of city public services. Please standby you will probably be needed in the near future if they do this. As for Bruce admitting on here that he won’t do it that will never happen. but a good point just to late to happen. If I had a guarantee that he would not even consider this then I would maybe change my way of thinking but until then I know who is supporting him and that scares me.

  25. Anonymous says:

    One of the leaders of the group as I see it came from South Florida 13 yrs ago and has been behind the movements to do such a thing a few years ago and recently was bringing it up again till it got stopped. He (A W) and his group are all strong supporters of Bruce and that will be their start of their agenda so when next March rolls around they can get another commissioner or 2 in there and the vote will be their way. We NEED ALL THE NO FOR BRUCE BE AT THE MEETING THURSDAY NIGHT AND LETS VOICE OUR SAY TO THIS SNEAKY TAKE OVER OF OUR CITY. I am telling you that is their agenda to get rid of the services that they have to spend their tax dollars on. Smitty you know 1st hand of what I speak thank you.

  26. John Smith says:

    WoW what a change, been out of town and sounds like there is a change in the air. Stay the coarse Feind, Mcgrew, and Mealy. enough said.

  27. Sea Oat says:

    Looks like we still have a chance to get Word according the the Jax paper but wow….he wants a one year severence!

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