SARASOTA COUNTY, FL - A day after Sarasota County administrator Randall Reid was let go, some critics of commissioners are crying foul. Control growth advocates argue the real reason is Reid would not bend to the wishes of developers. Commissioners say there were plenty of real reasons.
"It's disgusting. People should be outraged." Local attorney Dan Lobeck heads a group called Control Growth Now. He says they want reasonable growth for the community. He says Reid lost his job because he didn't give in to growing pressure being put on by land developers. "Randy Reid was hired because of his high ethics. He is being fired because of his high ethics. He simply would not bend his knee to the demands of the big developers that seek massive urban sprawl at the public expense."
"We've been elected to do a job for the entire community. That is what we did yesterday." County Commissioner Joe Barbetta cast one of the four votes to oust Reid. He says the claims are ridiculous. "It's unfortunate that they continue that banter. There were no developers involved in this at all. We are independent thinkers. All five of us. I can assure you I received no calls, no emails, nothing from any developers whatsoever."
Barbetta says Reid's firing came down to low employee morale and how slow some projects were to get going. Delays for improvements to Siesta Beach and little things like mowing contracts. "It's leadership. We can't micromanage. We hire an administrator to move those things along."
Lobeck says the final straw for Reid coming after recent talks on the county's 2050 plan. A plan which looks to control how much development is done east of I-75. Some commissioners say it blocks the right growth there. Lobeck says Reid wanted to bring in a neutral academic team to review the plan. "Randy Reid's suggestion that we look at the 2050 plan in an objective way and bring in experts."
County commissioners disagreed. "What I had said was bring in a reputable economist to come in and assess it. He didn't agree with that."Barbetta says it was only a small complaint and not the reasons reid was let go.
Lobeck contends the firing is just the latest example of where commissioners loyalties lie. "Randy Reid was a county administrator of all the people. He worked for the public interest and that's what got him fired."
Of course we wanted to ask Reid himself why he thinks we was let go. So far we have not heard back.
Deputy county administrator Thomas Harmer will take over for Reid for now. He has decades of public service experience. Before being hired by the county in 2012 he was working for a national real estate company.