Former Councilman Bob Pohlmann says:

Bob Pohlmann says:
January 14, 2014 at 9:52 pm
Hello Hank.
Initially I would agree with your premise that there needs to be massive changes within Port Orange city government. My observations of city government over the last year is that nothing has changed. Given the fact that city hall was a mess during my last year or two on council, it is truly amazing that the current council has done absolutely nothing to correct past mismanagement. In fact I would say it is more of a mess than ever before. Current council sits idly by and allows one fiasco after another without any comment. It seems that the council falls under the spell of the manager.
If anyone remembers I was the only Councilmember that did not want our current manager on the final list of candidates. You can look that one up. Looking in now as an outsider, not on council any longer, I confess to being under the spell of the manager. That is not a good thing. AsI look now at council, they are all spell bound, sitting there like robots. The manager runs the agenda. Nobody wants to say anything for fear of losing their council seat in the next election. Yes, councilman Ford does say things but he only goes so far and then backs off. Maybe that will change for him but I do not see the others following his example. I could easily identify 4-6 senior staff members that need to move on. They are all part of the stagnation that has entrenched this city and entrenched this council. That’s my opinion.
Yes, there were “team players” on previous councils. When I served with Kennedy, Steindorfer, Martin, and Green we did work as a team and accomplished many things. Drainage issues, Williamson Blvd, Public Safety improvements, and many other projects were completed working as a “team”. Those were good things for Port Orange. But I would agree there were other financial commitments that in hindsight were not as successful and might be deemed a waste of money. So when you use “team player” it was not all bad as you make it seem. I also disagree with your assessment of the current council and who is on what team or any other team.
Don’t forget that Councilman Bastian is on the “union team”. So how will he vote on the next union contract? Will it be for his “team” or the “residents team”. He certainly didn’t vote for the “senior citizen team” for tax breaks. Who nominated Councilman Burnett for Vice Mayor? What “team” is he on? I think he is on his own “team” for personal ambition and attention. Kennedy is not on any “team” anymore. I do not believe he will run for reelection. But when he was on the same “team” I was on much got accomplished. Ford and Green are each on their own “team”. That is why nothing of any major importance is being accomplished on the current council.
Let’s face the facts right now. There needs to be major, major changes in this city in order for it to move forward. A divided council does not accomplish anything. The city employees are divided into those being taken care of and those at the bottom. There needs to be more parity there. Senior staff needs a shakeup with some new faces. Many employees are in fear of their job. You can see it in their faces and they tell me this when I see them out in public. The whole culture needs to be changed. The city is not the shining example it once was, it is barely hanging on. But I could be wrong.
Where’s Chris Christie when we need him? That’s a joke of course. No NJ politics down here.
Bob Pohlmann

In Reply
Hank Springer says:
January 16, 2014 at 11:19 am
Thank you Bob for your observations. They touch on important areas of concern for the citizens of Port Orange. Many of your points can be the genesis for lengthy conversations. I will try and be brief:
It has already been one year since the new city manager has gone to work for us, and something has changed. Things have gotten worse in city government. A very short list would be mistakes in operations, and not supplying city council with timely documents before a city council meeting.
I had not realized that you did not cast a vote for Kisela as city manager. Thank you for reminding us of that. I had thought all candidates were of excellent quality. Perhaps they were of professional standards before they joined someone’s team? I will now leave this sensitive area for your sake.
I agree with you about Councilman Ford. He is blunt, and I know he is capable of putting forth motions that would affect the city manager’s operations, but he rarely does. He makes a lot of comments, but does not follow up in most cases with meaningful action. Still, to me, he shines above all the others, in at least bluntly describing the problems with city hall. We never had that before Bob Ford came on to the city council, except from what we heard from Ted Noftall. I will now leave this sensitive area of Ted Noftall for your sake.
The first I had heard of “team players” in city government, was when Mayor Allen Green urged the citizens to vote for a “team player” onto the city council, in the election you ran in. The definition of a “team player” is probably in the imagination of one’s agenda. It is naïve for me to write that I hope all city council members will be on the team working for the citizens, and perhaps not other “players” who buzz around city hall. You Bob had to demonstrate your willingness to be a “team player” when you applied for a teaching position in New Jersey. I think your position is that politics in and near Port Orange is so much cleaner than politics in New Jersey. If so, I think the way to keep our politics clean of unethical “team players” is to be skeptical, and alas with that sentiment comes the horrible tool of suspicion.
It seems to me, that in the past year or two we have been dealing more with facts and revelations than suspicions. By the way Bob, you had assured me that some city councilman would tell us what the details were in the hidden back room meeting of the $19.00 a minute non-binding arbitrator concerning the million or so dollars dispute with South Daytona. I do not think anyone has disclosed to the public the details of that meeting. Correct me if I am wrong.
Bob, you wrote: “The whole culture needs to be changed. The city is not the shining example it once was, it is barely hanging on. But I could be wrong.”
Bob, I think we have now learned that the shining example of the city of Oz was all a sham. A lot of nice things were built, constructed, with tax payers’ money, while many revenues were not being collected. The vision (and image?) of Port Orange, (for construction purposes?) was the main item for team players, and not adequate day to day mundane operations, which neglect cost the tax payers some million? of dollars.
Thanks for writing, Bob.
— Hank springer

4 thoughts on “Former Councilman Bob Pohlmann says:

  • January 20, 2014 at 11:12 am

    I love how you want to blame the management issues on Parker, but let me remind you that you and the council were his boss and you never pushed for more information or demanded more information. I love how you like to blame others for a problem that you created! You did not question, demand answers or stand up. When things happened you sat by and did nothing.
    Can I ask a question… Why would you slam people that are no longer in City Politics? You didn’t do it when they worked for you but now that they are retired and away from politics you want to blame him for a city that is in shambles. I want a council that will stand up and take responsibility for their mistakes and lack of oversight!

  • January 20, 2014 at 2:05 pm

    Hello “interested”. I guess you didn’t read this blog correctly or other blogs correctly. I readily admitted that I should have questioned the manager more in the past. I readily admitted that I was under the managers influence and went along with his agenda. Who am I slamming? Am I bad mouthing former manager Parker? Show me where I have done that. Many good things were accomplished in Port Orange while Parker was city manager. By the way, the city manager runs the city under the direction of the council. The council has to believe that the manager has a handle on all operations of the city. That is why, in hindsight, I think the same thing is happening with the current council. Being off council for a year now, after serving for 9 years, I can see the current stagnation with this group. Not sure what the issue is currently but it has not gotten any better over the last year. In fact, given the lessons that should have been learned from council mistakes of the past, I am surprised that they continue. Every council member that I served with, even Steindorfer and Martin, will tell you the council should question more, give more direction, demand more accountability. That is the lesson that has not changed. If you read correctly, I did admit mistakes. Should I read back to you what I said? So I have to ask you, what are you talking about?
    The nice thing for me now is I get to interject my opinions when I want to. I get to comment freely without worrying who I might “piss” off. I don’t have to worry about being reelected. So please, in the future, when you address my comments, know what you’re talking about. And don’t fly off the handle so easily.
    Bob Pohlmann

  • January 21, 2014 at 8:14 am

    What a great response, you are taking a page from the Ted Notfall response book only he does it better. You were under the “spell” of the manager? So basically you took whatever Ken said as truth? Yes you have to trust the manger but you are his boss not the other way around… He is in charge of the day to day operations of the city, but ultimately you are responsible for his performance. Council is responsible to the people and the manger is responsible to the council, but it seems to me that it is the other way around… Council has no idea what is going on nor do they care because if they did changes would be made.

  • January 21, 2014 at 8:38 pm

    Hello interested. Thank you for replying. It may interest you to know that Ted Noftall and I speak quite frequently. I respect what he has to say. I respect what you have to say. The important concept in all this is that both of you are engaged. Ted is engaged on this blog and at council meetings. He can be viewed as a thorn in the side of council but he has advanced much good for our community. He does not play sides or cater to special interests. We both lost to the interests of the “unions” in the last election. Yes, that union interest group will be something I will continually comment on. One more union guy on the council and the unions will control the council with 3 votes.
    Back to the comment I made about being under the “spell” of the city manager. As you have correctly stated, the council should answer to the residents. But that is not always the case. The council hires the city manager. Unless otherwise proven to not be the case, the council has to trust the manager, and also the city attorney. They, manager and attorney, are supposed to truly understand the intricacies of the city. The manager has to know everything that going on. Council has to take the word of the ciy manager. That is what I mean when I say “under the spell” of the manager. According to the city charter, council members cannot call upon any city employees. That is the managers job. If council members want answers from say the Finance Dept., they have to go through the manager. City employees do not work for the council, they work for the manager. The manager works for the council. That is the city charter.
    I will agree with you that as a council member, maybe we all should have probed, pushed, and questioned the manager more about what was going on. We all should have demanded more answers. But at the same time you have to respect the city manager and let him do his job. So yes, there are some limits on council. Some things take time to correct. Council may have some particular issue of interest, such as the billing fiasco with Daytona Beach Shores, but who do you blame, the manager or the Finance Director? Remember, the Finance Director works for the city manager, not the city council. If council takes the word of the manager that corrections are being made, you have to trust the manager. That is what happened. It is the managers job to fix all issues concerning employees. Council sets policy, the manager carries it out. I will agree with you that sometimes the manager has too much influence on the council and pushes a particular agenda. That is where the council has to be careful. I have seen that is action. So no, I don’t fault Ken Parker for everything that went wrong during the last two years I was on council. As much as council has to trust the competence of the manager, the same can be said of the manager having to trust in the competence of the city employees he hires. It’s not as easy as it seems.
    So, now when I see the same mistakes, and maybe more mistakes, I have to shake my head. I don’t want to see the city stagnate with other fiascos. City manager is not an easy job. But I have not seen this pattern getting any better. That is why I said it might be time for some wholesale changes.
    Fell free to disagree with anything I have said. I encourage discourse with any and all. All I ask is to keep it respectful. Sometimes we can agree to disagree.


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