Friday, May 14, 2021

Taking a Positive Focus on the Future




2017 will be looked back upon as a year that leaves us scratching our heads, giving thanks for dodging a bullet and leaving some wondering what could have been if we had done some things differently.

Some were left to wonder why we couldn’t attract a better group of candidates for the open position of city manager. We paid thousands of dollars to a consultant, who in the opinion of some, failed to bring forth a suitable selection of candidates; many on the island felt the candidates presented fell short of our desires.

Some would wonder aloud if televised raucous council meetings may have caused some professionals to back away from a process, which on the initial go around failed to bring a super-majority consensus to on a suitable candidate. One particular candidate appeared to have garnered the support of both the chairman and vice-chairman, and at the end, all but that sole individual was left, even before any interviews were held. A meet and greet for that individual had the appearance of a coronation, rather than the intended purpose of letting the community size up the candidate.



Unfortunately, that individual could neither summon the super-majority or a simple majority vote of confidence. An embarrassing exchange between the chairperson and the consultant also left many wondering as to whether we would be able to move forward. Apologies to the consultant and numerous phone calls from other invested parties brought both sides back together to allow a continuation of the search.

The second attempt brought forth a number of additional candidates. In the end, council chose a gentleman with Florida credentials, who they agreed to hire. That individual began his service to Marco on December 4th.

When hiring a manager it is more important to look deeper into a candidate’s background, rather than just how he or she left their last position. It is important to review their philosophies of management, what they accomplished in their previous positions and how they were viewed within the community and amongst their peers, rather than just how they ended former employment.

The position of city manager in any community is a difficult one. He or she serves at the pleasure of council, and councilors can vote by simple majority to discharge that individual. It takes a super-majority to hire that person here on the island, which makes me wonder whether the standards for discharging an individual should be elevated also.

It would be a mistake on our part to compare this person with any that have occupied that position in the past. I’ve worked together with all of them, in addition to most of the staff of our city. I’ve respected each and every one of those individuals and realize that each one had qualities different than the last. That didn’t mean that others may have shared my same thoughts, and that’s all right.

Having differing opinions isn’t a bad thing. It is from those varying opinions that we tend to come together in consensus and find a path forward to solutions to those challenges that face us. Unfortunately, in all too many cases we tend to harden those positions and would rather fight to a stalemate than find a compromise that all can live with, and that serves the public good.

The political process today has turned into a “blood sport.” It serves no good purpose and is detrimental to the improvement of the citizens of our nation and our community. We’ve seen that here, as attacks against fellow councilors by their counterparts have recently been exposed, and instead of an apology we’ve just seen excuses, which is unfortunate.

We control our own destiny and should in turn demand more from those who we loan those chairs to on the dais. They don’t own those seats, they merely sit in them for as long as we choose to place them there under the City Charter.

The gentleman that will now sit in that corner office deserves the opportunity to enter it without any preconceived opinions and should be judged solely on the record he creates here within our community and the good he accomplishes. To do otherwise is like hoping the pilot of your aircraft has a bad day, while you’re flying aboard the plane he is flying. Good common sense says that is never something you want to wish for. It is time to move forward in a positive and productive manner for all our citizens and focus on the road ahead, and not the rearview mirror.

Steve Stefanides, well-known by his nickname “Stef,” is an experienced awardwinning reporter of local civic and public interest news. Stef’s More Straight Talk column (and its predecessor, Straight Talk), on a variety of subjects, is a favorite of readers who trust him to bring them the facts. A Marco Island resident, Stef contributes to the community in many ways, having served on a number of city committees, charitable groups, boards and local organizations. Contact him by email at

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