Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk

Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk

Some thoughts on the recent events surrounding the current city manager search process in Ocean City:

A Situation Consistent With The Times
It’s a dysfunctional mess.

That’s the best, and probably least articulate, way to describe what the city manager process morphed into over the last couple weeks in Ocean City.

So much has happened over the last 10 days that Tuesday’s decision to allow Springsted, Inc. to move forward with negotiations with David Recor was almost anticlimactic.

Ever since the city provided me with Councilman Joe Hall’s phone records (The Dispatch was the only media outlet to request the records, by the way), it has been known that Recor, current city manager of Ft. Pierce, Fla., was being tapped for the job, despite his lies to Ft. Pierce commissioners that he was not even seeking other employment. In fact, that was exactly what he has been doing.

Within hours before the vote here in Ocean City, Recor was still telling people in Ft. Pierce, Fla. that he was not interested in the job in Ocean City and that he withdrew back on March 6. Well, he may have dropped out at that time, but at some point he got back in the running.

What’s most disturbing is that on Friday, April 27, the day the TCPalm reported Recor was in the running for the post in Ocean City, Recor emailed a commissioner confirming he withdrew his name and that he had “nothing to hide.”

In fact, he had a lot to conceal. Clearly, Recor was simply covering his you know what, and some people may forgive him for that.

On one hand, he wanted the Ocean City job, but if did not get it, he did not want to lose his current job either. It’s understandable to some, including the council majority obviously who voted to bring him to Ocean City, but it could speak to some character issues.

By Tuesday afternoon when the council vote was announced, despite his claims to the contrary, it was known in Ft. Pierce that Recor was looking elsewhere for employment. Therefore, he had no choice — he had to take the Ocean City job. He was clearly not going to survive another vote of the Ft. Pierce Commission over his future, like he did last October when commissioners voted 3-2 to not terminate his contract.

Ethics Charge Turns Out Meaningless

While his intentions were sound, resident Joe Groves never truly stood a chance of getting the Ethics Committee to issue an advisory opinion on Joe Hall’s 13-minute phone call to Recor on April 11.

With all the lawyers involved at the hearing on Monday, the committee never even heard the evidence apparently, although I don’t know for sure since all parties involved refused to comment on what happened behind closed doors.

Ocean City Solicitor Guy Ayres squashed any discussion of an ethical violation last month when he answered Joe Hall’s question of whether he had erred on the elected official conduct front. Ethical concerns should have probably ended there.

What the phone call did essentially was reveal the identity of the next city manager much earlier than it normally would have been known.

Actually, if that phone call was never made, I would have never known it was Recor and therefore no other media outlet would have even gotten a sniff of the story. Once word got out this newspaper was doing a story last week on the phone call, council members apparently called their reporter buddies at other media outlets to make sure they knew.

That’s their prerogative and it annoys me to no end, but the phone call is what brought Recor’s name out and ultimately led to him being under fire in Ft. Pierce and essentially being forced to come to Ocean City.

It’s unfortunate that’s how his decision had to be made. These are appalling circumstances under which to name the next city manager, but it’s fitting considering the current political turmoil on the island.

Job’s Future Contingent On Election?

Nobody knows if Recor is the right person for the job, but he is certainly a candidate with a controversial background. I find it hard to believe after seven months that there were not more experienced and clean candidates looking for other work, but the details of that search process will never be known most likely.

Public Internet searches reveal a tremendous amount of negatives in Recor’s past and a relative inexperience as a city manager. He has only been the city manager of Ft. Pierce since 2008 and his stint there has been mired in controversy, thanks largely to a divided commission that seems similar to the current divisive nature of politics in Ocean City.

Unfortunately, nobody truly knows how well Recor will turn out here or even how long he will stay or be welcomed to stay. Until he gets here, the benefit of the doubt is probably the best course. 
Questions, doubts and unknowns are the new norm in Ocean City, and this is how it will be until the looming election, which could decide Recor’s future here.

Recor, who knows all about the strife at City Hall currently, would be wise to not get too comfortable in Ocean City. My advice to him would be to rent a place first because his future here will likely depend on two conditions — how he treats all members of the City Council, not just the majority who is bringing him here, and the results of October’s election.

About The Author: Steven Green

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The writer has been with The Dispatch in various capacities since 1995, including serving as editor and publisher since 2004. His previous titles were managing editor, staff writer, sports editor, sales account manager and copy editor. Growing up in Salisbury before moving to Berlin, Green graduated from Worcester Preparatory School in 1993 and graduated from Loyola University Baltimore in 1997 with degrees in Communications (journalism concentration) and Political Science.