IRB Postpones Action on Cottrell Because of Absence of One Member
by Leo Coughlin
INDIAN ROCKS BEACH - The City Commission delayed action Tuesday night on hiring Steve Cottrell as city manager, putting off to July 10 discussion of a contract.
The absence of Commissioner Bert Valery was the reason for delaying the subject. Commissioner Jose Coppen moved for the postponement, even though the word was that a contract was near completion.
Should Cottrell wind up as the manager, and he seems to be favored by a majority of the commission, his assuming the office on a full-time basis is seen by many as step two in bringing some normalcy back to the city and getting away from the uproar that has ensued since Bob DiNicola left the mayor's post.
Step one in the process was the election in March that put Bert Valery and Terry Hamilton-Wollin in office, supplanting Jim Palamara and Ed Piniero.
Piniero, in particular, led to much of the mayhem going on at the commission level in his one year in office. His interminably long diatribes that often had nothing to do with city business kept the lights on very late at city hall on some commission meeting nights.
His observations seemed to have their grounding in the back of the school bus logic of the variety pursued by eighth grade boys just discovering the mysteries of the world.
Palamara, a veteran in city government, was swept aside because voters saw the city government as broken and wanted changes. There would have been even more changes, had certain seats been up for election.
There's a good chance, according to current sentiment, that the situation will be even more changed come next March.
IRB voters, having cleaned out city hall in March to the extent they could, breathed easier. Al Grieshaber's tenure as manager had ended and now all that needed to be done was to investigate the twists and turns of that caper, a process that is still being pursued.
A question of the Grieshaber case came up Tuesday night and Andy Salzman, who will not be involved because he is a possible witness, said no court date has been set.
There is a longing among some few in the city, obviously, to sweep details of the Grieshaber matter under the rug, but those who watch city business closely simply won't allow it.
Several pregnant theories abound as to what happened in the scenarios that led to Grieshaber walking away with more than $13,000 that the city is now trying to recover. Bottom line on the theories is that heads could roll.
That very fact has sent obvious tremors of fear through one city official in particular who has exhibited all the nervousness of a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs.
Cottrell is a seasoned and veteran professional who, it is hoped by most observers, will not tolerate micro-management from an elected official (one of the big problems in recent IRB history).
He is a member of the International City Managers Association, an affiliation that bolsters his credentials in a group that is peer monitored.
IRB's Charter requires that the city manager be a member of the ICMA. It is a requirement that was ignored in the hiring of Grieshaber and that, in the minds of many, led to many of the problems during Grieshaber's time in office.
There are theories as to why the Charter was violated to accommodate Grieshaber, but like many things in the area of speculation, hard and irrefutable proof is lacking.
Along with everything else that will tend to give stability to the IRB government - sadly lacking now for well more than two years (actually, since Tom Brobeil left the manager's office) - it is hoped that Cottrell's steady hand at the wheel will put the quietus to the e-mail war that has been going on recently.
Of course, Cottrell cannot order elected officials to do anything, but his professionalism might re-direct attention to matters of true leadership by those elected.
With Valery and Hamilton-Wollin on the commission and now getting their feet well balanced and firmly under them after four months, the influence of the commission, it is hoped by observers, will move in a positive direction.
The problem, particularly in recent days, has been obvious, but residents are more interested in moving ahead rather than re-hashing the intricacies of a bureaucratic maze of twists and turns as exemplified by a torrent of e-mails that have been issued.
That's over now, most folks are hoping, and with a settled situation, city business can proceed.
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