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Group suggests that Sallee replace Sallee

The Crystal River city manager's contract runs out in June, but a watchdog group says he is the best candidate for the job.

By ALEX LEARY

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 1, 2001


CRYSTAL RIVER -- In an unusual but not surprising move, the watchdog group Crystal River Citizens for Reform has submitted David Sallee's name for the city manager job he stands to lose next month.

"We want to eliminate the possibility of David not being in contention just for the fact that he did not submit a resume," John Kendall, co-founder of the newly formed group, said Monday.

Coming just hours before the application deadline, the action may prove more symbolic than anything. At least one City Council member, Russ Kreager, said he will not consider the resume unless Sallee submits it himself.

"How can a citizen put a name in the pool?" Kreager asked. "It's his decision, not someone else's."

Sallee, for his part, has indicated he would like to remain with the city but said Monday he will not apply for a job he currently holds.

"I am already here," he said flatly. "I am not submitting an application or a resume."

Asked if he would pursue the job anyway, Sallee acknowledged that his chances of making the cut are slim: "I imagine it will be a moot point."

Sallee was hired in 1999 and has had a tenuous relationship with the council ever since. He has been faulted for delegating too many responsibilities, spending too much to recruit department heads and for having an overgenerous retirement package.

The council voted in February not to renew his contract when it expires in early June.

About 65 people have applied for the job, including two local men, John B. Morrison, the city manager from 1969 to 1982, and current city planner Richard Hughes.

Though Sallee has some critics, he appears to have considerable support from the community.

More than 600 people signed a petition to save his job -- a fact the watchdog group pointed out in a cover letter to the council on Monday. His backers have hounded council members during recent meetings, demanding they negotiate a new contract.

Crystal River Citizens for Reform grew out of that uprising. The group, which has registered as a political action committee, is gathering information on current council members, with the goal of leading a voter rebellion in November.

Bud Kramer, the organization's leader, said he has seen some of the resumes and concluded that none of the candidates match Sallee's experience, education and ability. "We are wasting time," he said. "We should have resolved this thing with David Sallee back when."

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