Grover’s Rationale

On his way back from a regional economic development meeting in Panama City, Escambia County Commissioner Grover Robinson defended his recommendation to reopen the applicant pool for the county administrator position. His fellow commissioners soundly rejected that suggestion this morning during the agenda review session.

“You want to kiss as many frogs as you can,” Robinson said, “because you don’t know which one might be the prince.”

The commissioner suggested reopening the applicant pool and working with the Florida Association of Counties to find more qualified applicants. He said that currently-working administrators would be more likely to participate in the FAC process, which enables applicants to keep their intentions private until actively approached by a county.

“What does it hurt to actually get their resumes and see do they fit us or do they not fit us?” Robinson asked.

Commissioner Robinson is currently the first vice president of FAC. He is due to become the organization’s president in 2014.

During a recent FAC event, the commissioner said he spoke to two potential applicants.

“They simply indicated that they had an interest in applying for Escambia County’s position,” he said.

In response to the commission’s rejection of his suggestion, Robinson said that he suspected that some commissioner’s might be “predisposed” to an existing applicant.
“That would be the only reason to shut down the process,” he said, “if you were predisposed to someone that was already in the pool.”

One applicant already in the pool is Interim County Administrator George Touart. Chairman Gene Valentino said this morning that he considered the interim’s application to have upped the quality of the pool.

Commissioner Robinson took issue with Touart’s entrance into the pool. He said the interim was ushered into his current position personally by Valentino, and that he was meant to be a temporary fix.

“That was how this was sold,” he said. “It was never said that this individual should be applying for the job.”

Robinson said he didn’t know if Touart would end up getting the permanent position, but did describe the county’s overall search for an administrator as “the most unfair process there ever was.”

The commission convenes for a public forum this afternoon at 4:30 p.m. The regular meeting—for which Robinson is returning—begins at 5:30 p.m. at the county’s downtown governmental complex.