What The Hell is Going On in Gainesville, Florida?
The hiring of Garrett Garner and at least 18 other “professionals” for “temporary” positions, for the City of Gainesville is not going away. Until now, the focus has been on whether the Mayor or the City Clerk or both acted properly in the hiring of the former’s campaign manager as Craig Lowe’s $45,600 a year “temporary professional.” The Mayor has avoided questions and the City Clerk simply refuses to answer them about the hire. But what about the 18 others?
About all of them, there is another voice yet to be heard—that of Cecil E. Howard, the Equal Opportunity Director. Mr. Howard also is a charter officer. Other City charter officers have a duty to report to him to carry out Gainesville’s Equal Opportunity Policy.” According to the EO Director’s job description: “The charter Officers (in respect to their areas of responsibilities) shall
1. Review and approve/disapprove only those hires, transfers, demotions, and promotions that are in compliance with equal opportunity laws, policies, and procedures” and
“8. Assist the Equal Opportunity Director as requested in reviewing hires, transfers, demotions, out of class assignments of more than two (2) weeks, promotions, and terminations as deemed necessary for compliance with equal employment laws, policies, and procedures and assist as necessary to participate in the assessment and review of the city’s recruitment, appointment, promotion, and other personnel practices as they pertain to all employees and applicants at all levels of City employment.”
Those steps do not appear to have been taken with regard to Mr. Garner or the other “temporary professionals.” Yet despite the extensive publicity surrounding that hire, Mr. Howard has remained peculiarly silent, even when he sat and heard the issue(s) debated again on March 15 at the City Commission meeting. There seems to be no coherent policy concerning the hiring of temporary professionals, and Mr. Howard himself makes no mention of them in his extensive report for 2010-11 and more recently in an assessment of fulfillment of equal opportunity obligations by the City through September 2011.
This disdain for following equal opportunity rules apparently is contagious between and among charter officers. They seem to make them up as they go along. For instance, to carry out the mandate of the City Commission and the Mayor to enable the hiring of a new City Attorney, nobody apparently has bothered to inform the Florida Bar and its classified section about the vacancy. Bar membership is a requirement, but no ad has appeared to alert nearly 90,000 potential applicants. Apparently the intent is to come back with a half-dozen names and then install Marion Radson’s longtime colleague Elizabeth Waratuke.
In brief, the charter officer concept seems to have broken down. One charter officer, Robert Hunzinger, the head of GRU, openly stated that he has no idea what his duties are as a charter officer. It is time to look at the charter officer form of government, at a Charter Review session.
Gabriel Hillel, 4411 S.W. 34th St., #1305, Gainesville, FL 32608
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