Sarasota News Leader

04/18/2014

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TWO COUNTY EMPLOYEES' FIRINGS RAISE QUESTIONS ABOUT THE NEW ADMINISTRATOR'S PRIORITIES FOR THE FUTURE EDITORIAL OPINION EDITORIAL It is a given that a new CEO will make changes in an organization, and the manner in which they occur offers insight into how that CEO operates. What has raised alarm bells for us is how new Sarasota County Administrator Tom Harmer has launched his plans for a major county reorganization. If he has fired people to appease disgruntled commissioners, he may be making his bosses happy, but he also may be leading the county onto a path that bodes ill for its future. The recent public announcement about Harmer's plans to reorganize departments simply indicated his goal to make them more efficient and responsive to the public. However, an email he sent to the commis- sioners on the same subject announced two significant staff changes omitted from the public release. Not only did Harmer fire Steve Uebelacker, the ethics and compliance officer hired in October 2011 by former Interim County Administrator Terry Lewis after a purchas- ing scandal, Harmer also fired Amy Meese, a 13-year employee who had been the chief of the Natural Resources Department since June 2006. Harmer replaced Uebelacker with Steve Olmstead, a Human Resources Department employee who has been with the county more than 12 years, and noted Olmstead "will be OPINION

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