Resurgent Regionalism

The attached article from today’s New York Times, highlights a growing phenomenon occurring within established nations; the re-emergence of regionalism. The political process is not new, but it’s growing prevalence is. As the article discusses, it can either occur peacefully or as in the case in Spain, spark violence. But regardless of immediate sensations, what is this telling us about the long march of human civilization?

It may well be that the nation-state as we know it, is not as permanent as we once thought. It’s geo-political configurations that first appeared as the industrial revolution upended society, may now be losing its shelf-life within the eroding realities of 21st Century globalization. Since the evaporation of borders that once bound technology and information have all but disappeared, it follows that the same process could erase other artificially constructed parameters that were developed to contain societies and economies in another era. This is an area of thought that future articles will address while welcoming your interest, comments and contributions.

Dr. David Hamilton

First Scotland, Then Catalonia. And Now? Milan and Venice

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Edge County #4: Another County Manager for Henry County, Georgia,

Henry County. Henry County was ranked as the fourth fastest growing Edge County in the USA. Between 1990 and 2010, Its population increased at a rate of 247.15% to 203,922 residents. In addition, it  grew at the second highest rate of all counties within the Atlanta Metropolitan Region. It is located in the south-central portion of the MSA. Interstate 75 is its largest arterial road and runs through the middle of the county connecting it to DeKalb County and Fulton counties to its north and Butts and Spalding counties to its south. Political conflict and administrative turnover are evident based on an Internet search of media reports. Since 2009, the average length of tenure for their county manager has been 1.4 years.

Bonner named county manager after withdrawing candidacy

By Asia Ashley

Before withdrawing from candidacy several weeks ago, Bonner told the Herald that he sees another chance to be successful as Henry County’s manager.

I saw an opportunity to be there and it appealed to me personally and professionally,” said Bonner, who lives in Flagger Beach, Fla. “I look at the chemistry that you can work with them (commissioners) and then I start looking at the work that’s before me. I look at the work that’s before me, infrastructure, major projects and the needs for the county and citizens.”

Bonner said he does consulting work for developers and nonprofits. According to his resume, in his previous position as city manager for North Miami Beach, he managed 422 employees and oversaw a budget of $111 million. During his year-and-a-half tenure as city manager, he had to lay off some employees to meet the city’s tight budget. His proposal included cutting over 20 positions from the police department and several positions in other departments.

His decision was not received well.

Bonner made headlines when two North Miami Beach police employees were fired for plotting a curse to get rid of Bonner as the city manager for his plan to cut positions.

An article published on the Miami New Times website in November 2011, stated the two employees were caught in an office planning to cast a Santeria curse on Bonner shortly before mass layoffs were planned. They were plotting to spread birdseed around Bonner’s office, in accordance with a Santeria ritual aimed at making an enemy “leave you alone,” according to a police report. One of the employees had been raised in a family that practices Santeria, stated the article.

Bonner told the Herald that he was upset about the attention it received because Santeria is a religion that is practiced by many residents in the city.

Santeria has a strong following in North Miami Beach. It’s a religious faction,” said Bonner. “They were just blowing off some steam. I could’ve lived with them not liking me, but not lying under oath.”

The employees allegedly gave false statements to investigators during the incident.

He said one of the hardest parts of city or county manager positions is having to lay off employees, but added that preventing it from happening takes forward planning and accountability. He said predecessors failed to plan ahead.

We need to make sure the things we invest in are sustainable,” Bonner said. “When getting grants other funding for things, we need to allow for replacement costs. I like to bring out sustainability and make sure you can account for them in the future and can afford them.”

Having visited Henry County several times and researched projects and spending, he said the county’s police department is one of many of its unique features.

Bonner also addressed a previous investigation into sexual harassment, in which he was involved.

According to minutes taken during a 2006 city workshop for the City of Safe Harbor, Fla., where its city manager candidates were being discussed, Bonner was investigated for sexual harassment.

Lyndon Bonner is described as enigmatic,” read the minutes. “His employment file with the City of Dunnellon included a reprimand for not doing some things, but at the same time he received a great evaluation with high praise. At the Town of Bunnell he was accused of sexual harassment. EEOC investigated and found him innocent of the charges. He can be flippant. He is definitely outgoing. He resigned from Bunnell over contract and salary negotiations, but the officials wrote supportive reference letters.”

Bonner said he was cooperative in the investigation, which he said included statements about the victim “being uncomfortable” around him. But he joked that he learned something from the investigation.

I said something like ‘Hey, good lookin’, have a Merry Christmas,’” recalled Bonner. “That was a bad choice of words on Christmas Eve, I guess.”

With over 20 years of government administration experience, Bonner also served as county administrator for Okeechobee County, Fla., as well as interim assistant county administrator and special projects manager for Sumter County, Fla. Earlier in his career, he was city manager for several years in Bunnell, Fla., and worked as director of public services in Dunnellon, Fla., according to his resume.

Deputy County Manager Cheri-Hobson Matthews was one of the two final candidates, and had been serving as interim county manager.

Chairman Tommy Smith said though Bonner had verbally withdrawn his candidacy weeks ago, he was still a viable candidate.

At press time, Bonner said he had not received the contract, but did plan to accept the offer and start the position next week if the terms are agreeable. Bonner was also a county manager candidate last year. The contract was not available as of press time Tuesday.

Commissioner Bruce Holmes was the lone vote against Bonner’s appointment.

Source: http://www.henryherald.com/news/2015/oct/06/bonner-named-county-manager-after-withdrawing/

David Hamilton Hernando County

Received this message earlier in the week. Good to see that Hernando County is continuing with their Community Initiatives Program and dedicating funding to sponsor grants.

May 4, 2015

Apply now for a $5,000 Community Outreach Grant ― June 1 deadline

(Brooksville, FL) Residents who want to make positive changes in their community can now apply online for a Community Outreach Grant offered by the Hernando County Office of Management and Budget. This grant program provides up to $5,000 for organizations who wish to engage residents in enhancing their community’s character, value, safety, environment and recreational opportunities. The deadline to apply is June 1, 2015.

Projects must fall with one or more of the following categories:

  • Healthy and Safe Lifestyles – create opportunities to enhance community leadership, healthy lifestyles and public safety
  • Social Connections – connect those in need of financial, emotional or professional development to public and private community resources
  • Environmental Preservation – engage residents in hands-on cleanup and/or learning opportunities to improve our area’s natural resources.
  • Tourism – plan an event that promotes the area’s recreational, sporting, arts and/or natural resources opportunities

Grant funding is reimbursed upon project completion. The program is designed for short-term projects that begin and end between October 1 and July 31. Projects must take place in Hernando County and have a public benefit.

Go to www.hernandocounty.us/bocc/budget/communitygrants.htm  to apply online. You may also call (352) 754-4004 or email budget@hernandocounty.us for more information.

Past projects include:

  • The Life Center of Hernando County was approved to facilitate Life Skill and Parent-as-Educator classes for single moms at risk of homelessness. These classes focused on individual mentoring, responsibility and accountability.
  • The Hernando County Anti-Drug Coalition was approved to implement the Friday Night Done Right social norming program. This program promotes actions teens would prefer to do on a Friday night rather than alcohol or drugs.
  • The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill was approved to offer three free classes to help families and individuals dealing with mental illness learn how to cope, where to turn for help and what medications are available.
  • The Hernando County Fine Arts Council was approved to coordinate and promote the Art in the Park Festival. This event raises awareness of the arts and culture in Hernando County.
  • The Spring Hill Art League was approved to coordinate and promote its Celebrating Fine Arts event. The show features local fine artists, a student art show and a free art demonstration.

Update

The Strategic Planning article is coming. I checked with my first county and found out that their plan continues to bring success to their organization. Once I’ve sorted out this new information, I’ll post my first article. In the mean time, start thinking about your county and what your Strategic Plan has done for your citizens.
David

Strategic Planning Coming Soon

My lead off article for Edge Counties will be based on the value of Strategic Planning. This certainly is not a new topic but based on  recent experience, I can assure my readers that I  understand the value of having a Strategic Plan and can provide numerous  insights. Stay tuned!

David