Escambia County News Politics

Life After Randy

October 30, 2012

With Randy Oliver gone, the Escambia County Commission must now decide who will take the reins as County Administrator.

“I really can’t tell you for sure,” said Commission Chairman Wilson Robertson recently.

During the board’s meeting Thursday, commissioners will delve into the issue. As of mid-October, Assistant County Administrator Larry Newsom has been named Acting Administrator. Now what?

Robertson said he’d like to see Newsom take the position.

“Larry is certainly one of them that will be considered,” the chairman said, though he has “heard through the grapevine” that Newsom may not jump at the chance to lead the county. “From what I understand, he likes what he’s doing, and he may be scared a year or two down the road we’d get rid of him.”

Commission Vice Chairman Gene Valentino said he envisions Newsom staying in the ‘Acting’ slot for two to four weeks, then bringing on an interim administrator for three to eight months while the commission conducts a search for a permanent candidate.

“We want to take our time to find a leader,” Valentino said, adding that he was not satisfied with the background check conducted on Oliver.

Valentino—who turned in perhaps the harshest evaluation of Oliver—will become chairman this month. What is he looking for in a new administrator?

“I’m looking for someone who can be trusted and can be collaborative,” he said. “Trust, flexibility, he must be transparent and he must earn the trust and confidence of all commissioners.”

Valentino said he has thus far been contacted by four different people interested in the position of administrator. He declined to name the interested parities.

“All of them are viable candidates at this time,” he said, adding that former county administrator George Touart—a rumor in the running—has not contacted him. “—not on my list, I haven’t received a call from him.”

Robertson acknowledged the speculation about Touart—“right now, it’s a rumor”—but said the former administrator had not contacted him either. The chairman said that John Fogg, the former mayor of Pensacola, has expressed interested to him about the permanent administrator’s position.

“We need time to think about this,” Robertson said. “I’m sure Grover and Marie, who were surprised about this, need time to think about it.”

Commissioner Grover Robinson—who, along with Commissioner Marie Young, were supportive of Oliver—said he would like to see a search begin immediately for a permanent candidate.

“My feeling is, let’s go do it, let’s make it happen, let’s get moving,” he said.

Robinson stressed the importance of putting together a county budget in the spring. The commissioner would like to see someone in place by March to head up that effort.

“If you don’t get an administrator by March,” he said, “you might as well not get one until next October because budget is so important.”

At the time of Oliver’s firing, Robinson expressed concern about letting the administrator go; he didn’t share the concerns of some of the other commissioners about the former administrator’s performance. What will he be looking for in a candidate?

“I would say if you took Randy and cloned him, I would take all of him except—well, I can’t even say this, he was very good at communicating with people,” Robinson said, before considering qualifications, along with the x-factor of the board. “He’s got to balance a lot of things. That assumes you’ve got five commissioners that want to work together for something good for the community and not just their own agenda, and I can’t control that.”

Commissioners will discuss the county’s administrator position during their meeting this week. Thursday morning’s work session begins at 9 a.m. at the county’s downtown governmental complex, with the regular meeting at 5:30 p.m.

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  • Scammy October 31, 2012 at 7:52 am

    Robertson and Valentino teeing up for the Great RESTORE bonanza. Oliver attempted to take the politics out of the project selection process and for that he was dragged out and shot. Look for lots of paving projects and helipads.

  • joe October 30, 2012 at 10:39 pm

    Touart was denied his request to stay on an extra three months so he could recieve FRS benefits.
    If they brought him in on an interim basis, for three months, would it meet the FRS retirement monies requirement?
    I agree wtih the rest of the posts here; One would have to be a fool or a sadist to wnat to work for these clowns in county commission, exception Grover Robinson who I believe to be honest and well-intentioned.

  • wayne October 30, 2012 at 7:59 pm

    Why not hire John Asmar Back He is the best backroom dealmaker they could find.he also can be the hammer for them.

  • Mark October 30, 2012 at 7:23 pm

    Here we go again. Another time with Larry, I mean Wilson and Gene running the county. Larry proved on more than one occasion in the past that he will do whatever the two want. We might as well just appoint either Gene or Wilson as the County Administrator.

  • jeeperman October 30, 2012 at 4:36 pm

    I heard Commissioner Robertson has already made the call to Forrest Gibbs.
    The commissioners will hire Gibbs and Gibbs will drop his lawsuit against them.
    Done deal.

  • Ames October 30, 2012 at 9:53 am

    So, the commissioners fire the administrator not knowing the process going forward and the application process for those interested in the position begins with a personal phone call to one of the commissioners. Is it any wonder that Escambia county is…what it is?

  • EPenn October 30, 2012 at 9:41 am

    Isn’t Newsome the one that lead the job interviews for the Escambia County Equestrian Center job that picked Gibbs and then gave him a riase before he even started? Well, its a big surprise that Robertson would want him then, right? What a joke!

  • Citizen October 30, 2012 at 8:39 am

    Who in the world would take this job working for these clowns. Every time you turn around, one of them shows up in the news for something bad. Mrs young is the only one who has stayed clean. She’s smart to leave too. Every one knows how they work. Here’s a conversation between them. We need to get rid of Oliver. We know Young is gonna vote to keep him, so I’ll vote that way as well and yall boys vote to fire his butt. This way it will look good and the heck with what the voters think about you leaving in a couple of months and still voting on this matter. We need your vote to make it happen now. We don’t know how the other two new ones are going to vote until we have time to train them. Now you know my last election polls weren’t very good and I’m gonna need some help getting back in here, so I’m only asking for your help one last time boys. Well, I’m gonna be without a job in two months, are yall gonna be able to help me after the dust settles? Sure, we can slide you in some where. OK, let’s go do this thing.

  • Boo October 30, 2012 at 7:34 am

    These guys crack me up with the acting/interim 3 card Monty. Keep Newsome in until you find the poor sap who is willing to take the “permanent” position. Newsome is brilliant to continue standing back from the job. He knows it is impossible to keep these clowns happy.