Thursday, June 29, 2023

From Action News Jax: St. Johns County Administrator’s future in question after workplace culture concerns. (Robert Grant, Action News Jax)

UPDATE: CONRAD resigned.


Unqualified Republican political patronage hire HUNTER SINCLAIR CONRAD, unindicted co-conspirator as "Clerk E" in the federal bribery indictment in United States v.  PENN CREDIT CORP. & DONALD DONAGHER, JR., has been arrogant since the date that Governor RICHARD LYNN SCOTT duked him into the job of St. Johns County Clerk of Courts and Comptroller, after letters from developers and power brokers.

After the indictment and before anyone knew about it, five Republican Commissioners voted abruptly to file County Administrator MICHAEL DAVID WANCHICK, and to hire CONRAD.  There was no job posting, no advertising, no advance notice, no express waiver of his lacking the minimum qualifications, no consideration of women or minority applicants, no consideration of any applicants. Commissioners all said CONRAD hung the moon, in 2019, in 2020,  and again in March 2023, prematurely considering a three year renewal of his lucrative quarter million dollars a year contract.

As asinine authoritarian Administrator, CONRAD has behaved like the Dull Republican Lord of All He Surveys, treating the Administrator's job as a "stepping stone" to higher office, fancying himself a future President.

CONRAD told me, twice, at 2020 and 2021 budget hearings, "I don't have to answer your questions; I work for the Board of County Commissioners.  

In the men 's room at the Agricultural Center during 2020 budget hearing recess, CONRAD asked me, "Are you ever happy?"  I responded by saying, "always."  I asked him if he was happy, and he responded robotically, assuring me that he's got a wife and five kids. 

CONRAD has retaliated against employees for doing their "jobs too well." Looking forward, to civil, criminal and administrative investigations of his Reign of Error, 

CONRAD rather reminds me of King George III, from the musical, Hamilton.

On June 30, 2023, at their special called meeting, County Commissioners would be more than justified in giving CONRAD a statement of reasons and an opportunity to request a hearing. 

Otherwise, hubristic haughty hick hack HUNTER SINCLAIR CONRAD could always resign.

Having offended nearly everyone and violated the rights of employees and managers, resignation is too good for him.  

However, the developers' political machine and he probably agree this  would be "a good career move," in the words of the late Gore Vidal upon the death of Truman. Capote.

What's next? 

  • Commissioners should now designate an Interim Administrator (perhaps Joy Q. Andrews), hire a recruiting firm and conduct a proper national search. It's the standard of care, as former HR managers Sherman Gary Snodgrass and James Springfield agree.  Anything less is willful and corrupt.
  • Commissioners should consider the 25 ideas for government reform I presented on March 15, 2023, the date they voted for a 15% sales tax increase, which voters rejected in a 62% landslide,.

From Action News Jax:

St. Johns County Administrator’s future in question after workplace culture concerns

By Robert Grant,

6 hours ago

The future of the man at the helm of St. Johns County is in question after a commissioner raised concerns about workplace culture within county administration. 

On Friday, commissioners will hold a special meeting to discuss County Administrator Hunter Conrad’s contract just months after they unanimously approved renewing it. His contract was renewed with a more than $30,000 raise to $248,000 in March, about nine months before it was set to expire in December of this year. 

“I’m very worried about the workplace environment and culture that seems to be growing here amongst county staff,” County Commissioner Sarah Arnold said during a June 20 commission meeting. “This is going further into what I believe to be a dangerous precedent and troublesome culture in the county.” 

Arnold made the comments because she said several county directors came to her in private for fear of retaliation after a “hasty” meeting to set the groundwork for a new rule about access to commissioners. 

She said directors are now required to get the administration’s approval before a one-on-one meeting. 

“We can no longer have one-on-one direct access with our directors — and open conversation lines. It seems we can no longer talk directly with our staff without it being reported,” she said last week. 

“During my tenure, I certainly have never heard of any problems with that public or private communication other than Commissioner Arnold’s problem today,” Conrad said. “It’s within my authority as your administrator to call directors meetings whenever I please … by policy and by code, the administration is supposed to have everything funneled through them. That’s not to restrict information or access to commissioners. That’s to make sure that all commissioners are provided with the same level of service and information.” 

Conrad was hired as the full-time county administrator in 2020, and his new contract was not set to expire until 2026. During last week’s meeting, no other commissioners raised concerns. 

In March, Action News Jax’s Robert Grant reported on a former county employee’s concern about renewing Conrad’s contract. 

Read: Deferred investigation into St. Johns historical preservation position raises questions 

Trey Asner was the county’s cultural resource coordinator but claimed he was forced out of the position, which has since been expunged. He said he wasn’t surprised the contract is back up for discussion this week. 

“In some cases, I felt I was safe until I wasn’t. I could question certain things, but I couldn’t question certain things. Tenacious subjects like the Hastings High School,” he explained. 

In his previous position, Asner worked to protect historical landmarks like Hastings High School. He claimed county administration asked him to hide a report from the Cultural Resource Review Board. He added his direct bosses weren’t the problem, but there was pressure from higher-ups. 

“They do operate with an understanding that they do not want to get in trouble with administration,” Asner said. 

Read: Dispute over reserved seats turns deadly in theater showing Jennifer Lawrence film 

Arnold voiced concerns about the city’s ability to recruit and retain employees. Action News Jax requested all the names of directors under Conrad’s tenure and their time with the county. A representative said they are processing that request, as well as our request for comment on the situation. 

Conrad acknowledged last week he would “gladly step aside” if board members “don’t like the direction [the county] is going.”


Anonymous said...

Fraud Scott and others put their sock puppets in the administrations, on the bench, on the commissions, and have their tentacles in the legislature. These right wing nut jobs run everything from behind the curtain.. like the popes of Florida accept they flim flam, skim scam, and bamboozle their way into just about every grift imaginable.

Billy the Bamboozler said...

You go to that meeting and give them hell Ed. We wanna see foaming at the mouth, flailing arms, high tones of voice, and pounding on the podium. Already over decades they've caused irreversible damage with their misguided planning and zoning and carnage to the environment.

Anonymous said...

Meeting was cancelled. They will hash this out in a smoke filled basement full of Republicans.