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Friday, July 29, 2011

Still No Job Requirements for Lee County Manager

If you've ever been late on your tax bill or had a code violation then you know you pay a price when you break Lee County's rules. But Fox 4 is finding the county's not playing but its own rules and it's costing you thousands of dollars!

When Wayne Daltry co-wrote Lee County's charter 16 years ago, he remembers this much clearly: it required the county to write separate job requirements for the county manager. Daltry says, “We wanted something to govern the billion dollar plus industry that the county government is so we thought they should have the qualifications stated that you would expect of a C.E.O. of a billion dollar organization."

Headhunter Colin Baenziger
 For two weeks we asked county officials to produce that ordinance and the county attorney finally admitted "there is no such ordinance." After the former county manager, Don Stillwell, resigned under a cloud of scandal, the county could've started fresh by finally writing out the job requirements. Instead, they paid 19 thousand of your tax dollars to a headhunter to find a candidate. Only then, did someone finally come up with job requirements; the headhunter himself Colin Baenziger. Baenziger advertised, "The ideal candidate will have a minimum of seven years of progressively responsible experience in public sector management."

Karen Hawes had just been promoted to interim county manager but records show her long career at the county wasn't always so progressive. in 1992 she was hired as deputy county administrator and was second in command to the county manager. However, she only held that job for a year and a half before being moved in to a lesser position as director of Human Services. Daltry says, "A year and a half isn't enough experience."

But apparently it was enough experience for commissioners, who gave Hawes the job in 2009 and agreed to pay her $192,000 a year. Nearly a year later, one commissioner finally pointed out to Hawes there are no job requirements on the books for the county manger or other top county jobs.
Karen Hawes

In a board meeting in August, 2010 commissioner Brian Bigelow told Hawes, "Be sure we understand and are very clear about what the charter says about how to replace you and the county attorney." The current commission chair, Tammy Hall, then promised it *would be* addressed. Hall said, "We'll ask the county attorney to brief us on the charter if there's anything of importance to that position and the county manager's already discussed with us that she will lay out exactly the procedure they will recommend and at that point we can add or delete or make comments on it when she presents it to us."

But now, a year later, that information still hasn't been presented to commissioners. There are still no job requirements for the county manager. If you think this is something the county should address you can contact the county commissioners by going to our website, it's '' and click on the Big Red 4 or click here:
To view the Fox 4 report click here:

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