Gateway Sun

On September 30, former Supervisor (and I predict, 2020 candidate) Rod Senior issued a scathing memo rebuking Vice-Chairman William Guy and Supervisor Doug Banks.

Senior had said Guy took credit for all kinds of things he should have never taken credit for, but as our article from yesterday stated, the audio tape of the event shows that Guy gave credit to the entire Board of Supervisors or the Gateway District, rather than trying to take credit himself. Senior apparently misheard Guy, or interpreted Guy’s remarks to mean that Guy was taking the credit.

The other remarks Senior made blasted Banks for taking credit for the Gateway District’s re-organization. Senior wrote:

Doug Banks overtly claimed credit for putting in place a new Organization Structure for GSCDD, which includes GSCDD severing ties with Severn Trent Management Company and instead GSCDD hiring its own District Manager, with three business lines reporting to him – Utilities Manager, Public Works Manager, and Office Manager. This is the exact Organization Chart that I created as part of my GSCDD Strategy & Structure slides that were presented to the board in January 2016 (attached is the power point deck that I presented at the board workshop on 1/21/16 immediately prior to 1/21/16 regular board meeting – Fineberg absent). Doug Banks was appointed to my seat in May 2016. I was not able to garner support for my reorganization initiative from my board colleagues at the time. But soon after I left, the board adopted my proposed Organization Structure. I persuaded the board to hire consultant Joe DeCerbo to assist with GSCDD Strategy and Structure. If anyone deserves credit for implementing my GSCDD Organization Structure, it is Joe DeCerbo. Doug Banks should not be claiming credit for the work of others. That is plagiarism.

As to Senior’s accusation that Banks copied Senior’s organizational structure, Banks said he had pretty much the same structure in mind when he looked at the GSCDD. No offense to Senior or Banks, but having those departments, with each department having a manager, and those managers reporting to the District Manager isn’t exactly brilliant organizational strategy. It’s the most obvious structure for the GSCDD. Evidently, both men reached the same conclusions, but nothing about it was novel.

Senior was the person who got the ball rolling and put in the early leg-work, but as he notes he wasn’t able to complete the key task of building support from the board to make the re-org a reality. Since Banks has joined the GSCDD, the re-organization has been his top priority and the area in which he has put in the most time and energy. Crucially, Banks was able to build support and consensus among the board to get the re-org approved.

Clearly, both Senior and Banks deserve credit for the re-organization, but Senior said that if anyone deserves credit for his ideas coming to fruition, it is Joe DeCerbo, not Banks.

DeCerbo is the District Manager of the Spring Lake Improvement District and a GSCDD consultant. DeCerbo is also the reigning winner of the Florida Association of Special District’s award for being the District Manager of the Year. That award probably doesn’t mean much to you, and it doesn’t mean much more to me … but in the world of special districts (like Gateway), that award is a huge deal. It means the guy knows his stuff.

Here’s what DeCerbo had to say about the matter:

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My introduction to Gateway was thru then Supervisor Rod Senior, who recruited me to do an Organizational Study for the District. My work was done from April thru June of 2015 and the finished product was titled, Ordinary to Extraordinary. The very detailed report was a blueprint and roadmap for the next five years. After a presentation was made at a public hearing it was obvious that the Management Company overseeing the District was lukewarm to its contents, and support was unlikely. Mr. Senior and I continued to discuss and strategize how to implement the plan, but it was obvious we did not have the full support of the Board. Soon afterwards, Mr. Senior resigned from the Board and I chose to disengage my services.

More than a year and a half later the Board asked if I would return and try to resurrect the recommendations included in the 2015 Study. I agreed to their request as long as they were willing to hire their own District Manager, re-organize staff structure, and conduct a series of Board Advance Planning Sessions. I asked for a Board person to work with, similar to my relationship with Mr. Senior. The Board appointed Doug Banks. I met several times with Doug and soon to be District Manager Chris Shoemaker to review my Study and to discuss my plan of action for the initial Board Advance. Along with my own materials, I shared a number of items that had been developed by Rod Senior and were still very applicable to our current strategy. I actually included some of Rod’s materials in several meetings I had with Board and Staff. Rod had a good pulse on what needed to be done, and I wasn’t going to waste the materials he had developed and shared with me. The power point presentation that Doug Banks made at the first Board Advance was his own work, entitled Vision 2020. He was able to take the results of the 2015 Study and my supplemental materials, and put forth a roadmap for the Board to accomplish its goals, with me as the facilitator. The most impactful item, as noted in the Study, was to hire a Manager and not be overseen by a management company. Mr. Banks took the initiative on implementing this, not necessarily developing the concept and structure, but strongly supporting the change. An updated organizational chart, revised job descriptions, and a salary administration program was implemented. Eventually, the full Board agreed. I am sure that Mr. Senior took great personal pride when this happened; he was one of the first to realize this needed to happen if Gateway was going to grow and prosper.

A lot of behind the scenes work has been done by Gateway Board and Staff in meetings and training sessions with me, and I have seen a significant improvement in so many areas, especially in management and operations. Unfortunately, most residents only read and hear about your lake bank restoration costs, and other projects that cause controversy, and what goes on behind the scenes is too bland to report on.

I would urge you and any interested residents to see what the recommendations were in that 2015 Study, and what has been accomplished.

The current Board and Manager has been most supportive and helpful in the work that I have been doing with the District, and a lot has been accomplished. They are getting closer to being a full policy making group and staying out of operations, and the more they can rely on their Manager the better off they will be, as well as the residents. Elected officials should hire the Manager, approve a budget, and set policies and procedures. It is up to those of us who are the professionals to handle the operations. The more elected officials engage in operations, the more confusing, controversial, and costly it becomes.

Joe DeCerbo, District Manager
Spring Lake Improvement District
115 Spring Lake Blvd.
Sebring, Florida 33876
863-655-1715

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Again, there’s a group of people who deserve credit for the re-organization. Senior, Banks and DeCerbo all played vital roles.

Senior is taking objection, however, to Banks being given any credit at all.

Banks made the following statement on social media:

My actions and track record speaks for itself. I am proud of my personal contributions and what the current board has been able to achieve in the last 2 years. Gateway District is moving forward, getting things done and I would argue in the best position it has ever been in. I’m not willing to play these kinds of political games to be elected.

About Jeff Kuntz

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Editor of the Gateway Sun and owner of restaurant delivery service Florida Food Runner.

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