The Pasco County Commission wants the county to advertise a top administrative position before deciding who should get the job.
Commissioners made that decision during their Nov. 17 meeting, when they were asked to confirm the selection of Gary Joiner to be the director of administration in the county’s building and construction services department.
The job pays $125,000.
Sally Sherman, assistant county administrator for development services, spoke in glowing terms of Joiner’s qualifications and “fit” for the job. He has 30 years of professional experience, including as Pasco’s county property appraiser. He initially filed for reelection, but failed to qualify in the race for the seat that was won by Mike Wells Jr., who just left the county board.
County Commissioner Kathryn Starkey, however, wasn’t so sure that Joiner is the right choice for the job.
“I have a little reservation with this selection, just from my own personal interaction when I found something that wasn’t correct, in his world of property appraising,” Starkey said.
She said she brought the issue to Joiner’s attention repeatedly and it wasn’t corrected.
“It took me talking to Dr. (Marc) Bellas (performance management director) about it, to get it fixed, and it cost this county tens of thousands of dollars.
“The inaction, of fixing the problem, does not sit well with me,” Starkey said.
She suggested: “I think we maybe need to keep looking.”
Commissioner Ron Oakley was willing to support Joiner’s hiring, noting that he trusted County Administrator Dan Biles’ selection. But, Oakley’s motion to confirm the appointment died, for a lack of a second.
Newly elected Commissioner Christina Fitzpatrick asked if the position was advertised.
Biles said it was not.
Commissioner Mike Moore observed: “Typically, on a director-level position, from my memory, unless it’s an internal promotion, they are always publicized. I don’t remember one time, when we did not publicize an opening, unless it was an internal promotion.”
Biles responded: “In general, we would.”
In this case, however, he and Sherman believed that Joiner “specifically had the skills and experience necessary to do the job.”
Biles also noted that Joiner “was already effectively a Pasco County employee, as the property appraiser.
“It just made sense to just go directly to him, and not go through the process, when I already knew who I thought we needed to hire,” Biles said.
The county administrator continued: “Anytime you go through that (hiring) process, you put other people through time and effort to get through that. If you already know who you think you want to hire, it probably makes sense to go straight to the end result.”
Fitzpatrick asked if the board could put off the decision until its Dec. 8 meeting, to provide the time to advertise to be sure that the county had the best person for the job.
Moore told Fitzpatrick that the decision could be delayed.
Biles told Fitzpatrick that he would prefer not to do that.
“The board obviously can direct us to what the board wants us to do. I will go back to the hiring and firing of the county employees is an operational decision. We bring the directors and above to board for confirmation,” Biles said.
But, Commissioner Jack Mariano said, he, too, supported advertising the job.
“I think we’re best serving the people of Pasco by looking at everybody out there. Let’s go look at the talent that’s out there, and who wants this job, and find out what’s best for the position,” Mariano said.
Starkey again expressed her dissatisfaction with Joiner’s response in her previous interaction.
“It wasn’t my role to fix it. I brought it to the attention of someone in a leadership position that should have fixed it. I brought it to his attention multiple times, and it never got fixed on their end. That, to me, is a lack of leadership. I think you need leadership in that position,” Starkey said.
Sherman assured Starkey if an issue arose, it would be addressed.
But, Fitzpatrick made a motion to delay the issue until the board’s next meeting, with the position to be advertised to ensure the best candidate is selected. Starkey seconded the motion, which passed on a 5-0 vote.
Moore noted the board’s action does not take Joiner out of the running for the job.
Published November 25, 2020