Jeremy's Notebook

Touart Makes Top 5

July 15, 2013

escambia county administrator search committeeThe Escambia County Administrator Search Committee has drawn up a list of five applicants to submit to the Escambia County Commission later this week. Interim Administrator George Touart is on that list.

“We’ve had a hot potato and we’re just kicking it upstairs,” said committee Chairman Dave Pavlok this afternoon, wrapping up what is assumably the group’s final meeting.

The county commission seated the search committee to vet the field of applicants for the administrator position. More than 40 qualified applicants have been cut to ten, and now five.

Touart—brought on to serve on an interim basis, and the source of much controversy as per ethical concerns stemming from his last go-round as Escambia’s administrator—applied for the position just before the application window closed. He has now survived the search committee process, as well as a blistering debate last week as commissioners argued about the appropriateness of the interim applying for the position.

During today’s search committee meeting, members numerically ranked the top-10 candidates. Each was assigned a number, one through 10, by each of the committee’s five members, with the totals then being calculated.

The top five, as well as their total assessment scores are as follows: Lyndon Bonner, 43; David Fanslau, 36; Kenneth Griffin, 31; Ronald Rabun, 33; George Touart, 41.

The search committee made the decision to submit the top five applicants to the commission without any ranking attached. Human Resources Director Tom Turner, who has been overseeing the administrator search process, explained to the committee that its recommendations would be passed to the commission, but that the commission was not bound by the committee’s findings.

Committee member Joseph Marshall, Commissioner Lumon May’s pick on the committee, also spoke about what he considered to be a lacking pool of applicants. He said he was “somewhat disappointed.”

“I don’t feel real good about what we have,’ Marshall said.

Pavlok said he agreed, and had hoped that the committee would have had at least “ten people who can knock it out of the park.” The chairman also suggested that the county should foster an environment in which assistant administrators be promoted up the chain; he called it “one element that’s missing,” but also noted that the county does have an assistant administrator, Larry Newsom, who didn’t apply for the permanent position.

Joseph Ward, Commission Chairman Gene Valentino’s pick, attributed the pool quality to Escambia’s image.

“I think it’s the county’s reputation, myself,” Ward said.

Turner noted that the county had been through a number of administrators in recent years—“that is deterrent to people in this field”—and that recruiting administrative level employees was difficult throughout Florida. However, the HR director also said that some of the candidates who have applied to Escambia have faired well elsewhere.

“People that applied to us were first-picks in other places,” Turner told the committee.

Tom Knox, seated on the committee by Commissioner Grover Robinson, acknowledged that the pool of applicants may seem lacking, but said that was the pool from which to draw and requested that the committee think of the finalists as the “cream of the crop.”

“Can somebody in there serve the needs of the county?” Knox said. “We’ve got to be optimistic about that.”

The county commission will consider the committee’s list of the top five finalists during its Committee of the Whole meeting, this Thursday at 9 a.m. at the county’s downtown governmental complex.

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  • Dale Parker July 19, 2013 at 6:49 am

    You are right, some of these folks are so emotional and uninformed that they do not care about facts, they do not care about the truth. All they care about is attacking someone that they do not know, never have met.

    In fact, a few times I placed a call to Mr. Touart and he was very accessible and provided me with all the information I requested. When I asked about these things that are reported, he stated that he has asked Mr. Outzen to meet with him and ask him directly. However, he does not.

    My opinion, it is easier to just report on what you want if your set of facts are those that support your agendas. It is far to obvious that the Agenda here is to bash Mr. Touart and incite those that do not care about the facts and continue the bashing in the blogs.

    • Rick Outzen July 19, 2013 at 8:24 am

      The facts used are accurate. Touart was not a good administrator. He had ethical issues that were investigated by the organization that the county paid for him to be a member. He resigned to avoid being fired.

      Yesterday, he twisted my comments, restated them incorrectly (another one of his favorite tricks) but later gave more evidence that they were correct. He met with Armour, so did Gene.

      I’ve known George for over 10 years. There is no value in talking with him, especially without witnesses.

  • jeeperman July 19, 2013 at 6:19 am

    If you look at the link in my comment on July 16th at 2:08pm, it is right there front and center black and white.
    “not a criminal offense”
    Like I said before, some people only want to see or hear what they want.

  • Jacqueline July 19, 2013 at 12:59 am

    OK, the link that I saw did not have that wording, just the “Forf:U” designation.
    Thank you but chill.It is a discussion, Jeeperman.
    You have been watching too much Valentino.

  • jeeperman July 17, 2013 at 7:03 am

    I suppose you guys only want to here what you want to hear.
    Here is what my previously posted link says, and it is public record on the Wisconsin Court Systems own website:
    “The defendant George F. Touart was found guilty of the following charge(s) in this case.
    •Illegal Hunting/Possession Game/Birds. This is not a criminal offense and results only in a money penalty for this offense.
    •Illegal Hunting/Possession Game/Birds. This is not a criminal offense and results only in a money penalty for this offense.”

    Notice that it states that “This is NOT a criminal offense”.

    No matter what a lawyer tells you, it is right there in black and white, literally.

  • David H July 16, 2013 at 6:32 pm

    Jeeperman you are sort of right about Forf. U, which stands for forfeiture unclassified that is less than a misdemeanor, but it is not a citation. The charges were criminal, which is why the case type is criminal, but the District Attorney allowed for a plea bargain that made it a lesser (I called the clerk of the courts in Richland County Wisconsin to find this out 608-647-3956). The problem I have is that he could have mentioned it and with the next questioned explained how it turned out. I was disqualified before for not mentioning a 25 dollar ticket for an open container that was 30 years old because it was an omission and not criminal but a fine. A background check on George will show that case in Wisconsin and it will look criminal unless investigated, which most companies will not do they will just disqualify you. The committee did not have that information when they whittled down the applicant pool. What this does show is a lack of transparency and honesty in his character. Just like Dennis Williams e-mails going to his home address and not the county address and not disclosing it with all the commissioners. He talks a lot about transparency and honesty, but his actions do not line up with his words just like 2007 when he resigned because he was not transparent in disclosing his business dealings when county business was conducted. George just likes to hide things hoping no one will find out instead of being up front and honest by conducting business in a transparent way to show that you are not hiding anything.

  • Jacqueline July 16, 2013 at 6:07 pm


    I am hearing conflicting opinions on this. I have been told that lawyers have looked at it and it still was a no-contest plea to a misdemeanor, even if it was eventually settled for less. So, who knows??

    What I can’t understand are the gaps/discrepencies in his employment history that don’t seem to be reflected on his application. Unless I am reading it wrong, he has the wrong dates for his Jackson County position and then a gap before he is even hired in Madison County but he states on the application that he left one job for the other???
    I have links at the Escambia Citizen Watch FB group:

    I’m open to correction if I am reading it wrong. Goodness knows there are enough reasons not to hire Mr. Touart… we don’t need to make any up.

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