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Commissioner calls for firing of city manager

Three Dade City commissioners and the mayor say Doug Drymon shouldn't be removed, but agree to discuss his performance.

By CHASE SQUIRES

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 24, 2000


DADE CITY -- After two years of public harmony, City Manager Doug Drymon came under fire unexpectedly Tuesday when Commissioner Bill Dennis asked fellow commissioners to fire Drymon from his $56,697-a-year job.

Dennis told the board and audience that Drymon lied to him about how the agenda for a controversial upcoming meeting was organized. The meeting, set for Thursday, invites residents to comment on proposed downtown building guidelines, and Dennis said he got conflicting stories about how a planning consultant was placed on the agenda as a speaker.

Dennis also said Drymon had lost the respect of city employees and the public.

"In the next four years, Dade City has a lot that has to be done that requires positive and aggressive leadership," Dennis said. "I don't think Mr. Drymon has the respect of staff or the community to do this.

"I think he should be replaced, but this is a decision that has to be made by the commissioners," Dennis said.

Commissioner Hutch Brock, while not pressing for Drymon's firing, warned the city manager and city staff that he has been unhappy with the appearance of the town and said he expects a better effort to keep the town clean.

Brock, fellow Commissioners Eunice Penix and Lowell Harris and Mayor Scott Black said they didn't feel Drymon should be fired for one incident, but agreed to hold a workshop next Tuesday afternoon to discuss Drymon's performance and the board's expectations.

The board granted Drymon a 3 percent raise earlier this month, his second raise since he started work on May 7, 1998.

Since he began work, he has not publicly disagreed with the commission, and there has been no indication that any of the commissioners were concerned about his job skills.

Dennis said he was forced to bring his complaints to the board in a public forum because of state open meeting laws.

Other commissioners said they wanted to talk about the issue, but considered the problem more a matter of communication than anything else.

"I feel we can resolve this," Harris said.

"I feel our city manager has a lot of potential," Black said.

Dennis said he lost faith in Drymon after a series of incidents. He said Drymon didn't insist City Planner Doug Currier transfer some of his duties to another department even though Currier had complained his workload was too broad. Dennis also claimed city Public Works employees rejected Drymon's request for a department work schedule, telling him they would rather continue operating as they always had.

"Dade City needs a little more aggressive leadership," Dennis said. "Sometimes a city manager must say "We will do things this way because I am city manager.' "

Dennis said Drymon denied he had met to discuss the upcoming design guidelines meeting with Gail Hamilton, Downtown Dade City Main Street head, even after Hamilton had already told Dennis she had specifically discussed with Drymon the idea of bringing a consultant to the meeting.

Drymon sat quietly through the debate. Commissioners did not ask him any questions, and Drymon didn't offer anything in his defense.

Brock credited Dennis for bringing the matter to the board's attention and said he expects more from the city staff as a whole.

City-owned planters around town sport dead vegetation, trash cans have been seen overflowing, and there has been trash blowing on the sidewalks, Brock said. He said he wants and demands improvement.

"I'm urging Mr. Drymon to let his people know, not only are we watching, but we're expecting," Brock said. "From this commissioner to Mr. Drymon, I'm telling you I want to see a better job."

Drymon was city manager of the eastern North Carolina city of Wallace before coming to Dade City. Wallace is a city of about 3,000; Dade City has nearly double that population.

He was chosen from among 44 applicants for the local position to replace former manager Richard Diamond.

Drymon is a native of Sarasota, and a graduate of the University of Florida. He earned a master's degree from the University of North Carolina.

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