As Manatee County commissioners continued to rehash their decision to find a new county administrator, County Attorney Mickey Palmer sternly told them on Thursday to “drop that subject.”
“This government needs to move on,” Palmer said. “I want to urge all of you to drop the subject.”
Since voting last December to proceed with a national search to replace County Administrator Ed Hunzeker rather than extend his contract, there has been tension among commissioners about the subject.
During Thursday’s work session, which was just days after a request for proposals for an executive search firm to conduct the search was posted, commissioners revisited the subject. Commissioner Robin DiSabatino asked for more clarification on Robert’s Rules of Order because on Tuesday, Commissioner Carol Whitmore made a motion, which she later rescinded before the vote, to end the national search and extend Hunzeker’s contract for 12 to 18 months.
Hunzeker was not present during Thursday’s afternoon work session.
“I think we need to have clarification on what parts of Robert’s Rules we are applying,” DiSabatino said. “I think Robert’s Rules should apply at all our meetings. ... It was just very unfair. It has caused consternation and angst.”
The commissioners voting in favor of a national search were DiSabatino, Vanessa Baugh, Steve Jonsson and Charles Smith. Voting against a search were commissioners Whitmore, Betsy Benac and Priscilla Whisenant Trace.
“We have to come together as a board,” Baugh said. “Let’s all stand together on this matter. It is done. The RFP is out. The county administrator is leaving. We are going to have a new one. Let’s not destroy our board and this county by the fighting that is going on.”
Since not all seven commissioners will be at the March 28 commission meeting, commissioners asked for the meeting to be rescheduled to April 4 so the matter wouldn’t be brought up without a full board.
“I am concerned about the 28th,” Smith said. “It is dividing the board more and more that we don’t even trust each other anymore.”
Commissioners need to stop bringing up the matter, Benac said.
“It needs to stop being a contentious issue for this board,” she said. “It cannot come up every time.”
Palmer said he will do whatever he needs to do to “help this board through these difficult times.”
“We need some civility,” he said. “I hope calmer thoughts will prevail.”