More skeletons in the soon-to-be-ex Hillsborough County Administrator’s closet

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By George Niemann

PoHo contributor and R-LAND, UCAN, Amendment 4/Florida Hometown Democracy, FSP activist

The ideas expressed are my own and not necessarily those of the organizations to which I belong

We have watched the Hillsborough Board of County Commissioners dicker over firing County Administrator Pat Bean for months now. It’s amazing how the BOCC just can’t seem to summon the courage to terminate her. On Thursday June 3, 2010, after 2 hours of collective waffling they voted to fire her “for cause” and then, a few minutes later, decided to take the first vote back and not fire her. Have you ever seen a more constipated group of decision makers???

Most would say there is no shortage of reasons for firing her. The issues include inappropriate raises to her direct reports, raises for herself and the county attorney without board approval, poor choices in recommending budgets cuts to the Board of County Commissioners, inappropriate personal endorsements of developer initiated growth plan amendments (Energy Industrial Park), accepting a car allowance while being personally chauffeured around all of the time in county vehicles, the loss of $2M in federal funding for affordable housing due to mismanagement, the possibly illegal acquisition of emails between the internal performance auditor and the Federal Dept of Law Enforcement. These are some of the front runners.

But could there be more skeletons? As it turns out, you just have to search around the closet for a couple of minutes…Ooops, I think I just found another one!!!

Take the cases of former county employees Michael Rowicki, Frank Turano and Maggie Tagliarini. Remember the $2M loss of federal money for Affordable Housing that was discovered on Bean’s watch? There’s a back story surrounding the Affordable Housing scandal that rivals some of her most noteable screw-ups. The back story amounts to a lot of taxpayer money that may have been wasted as Bean pursued relentless retaliation against former employees that became potential whistle blowers.

These individuals say they were targeted by Bean and were harassed to the point at which Bean tried to send the State Attorney and the Feds after them. The government agencies that Bean tried to involve never took the bait, presumably because there was no wrongdoing on the part of these individuals. In the end, they were all forced off of the county’s payroll by Bean. Maggie Tagliarini says that they were targeted by Bean because they all knew too much about Bean’s Affordable Housing skeleton, which later became a news item. They also knew how she tried to shield the guy in charge at the time, Affordable Housing Manager Howie Carroll, so he could escape being fired. Tagliarini says, “Bean went after the three of us because we knew too much about the mismanagement that caused the $2M Affordable Housing scandal”.

And she did go after them with a vengeance!!!!

Frank Turano has a pending lawsuit against the county and, believe it or not, it is still being deposed even though he was fired by Bean over 3 years ago. If he wins his case, the county will have to shell out at least 3 years worth of salary, benefits, pension and court fees. Turano, so far, has refused to settle with the county. He is determined to get fully reinstated with pay and benefits.

Mike Rowicki settled his civil case with the county in 2009. As part of his settlement, he was reinstated so that he could retire. The settlement amount was for $97,959.03, but that amount was a relatively small part of the total cost for the county.

Has this skeleton cost a lot? Does it rise to the level of bad management that Hillsborough can no longer afford to tolerate?

These are a combination of rough estimates and actual costs. They provide an approximation of what Bean’s vindictive witch hunt may end up costing taxpayers:

This is just one more reason to add to the pile. It’s a costly one, indeed. It’s a hell of a lot more than Bean's severance. And it’s ironic that the board has spent so much time fretting that they needed just one more reason to fire her for cause, but they never even looked at the other skeletons trying to get out of the closet.

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