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Thursday, Jul 24, 2014
Steve Otto

Otto: Former Animal Services chief finds job switching easy

Published:

One of the neat things about working for Hillsborough County is the opportunity for a little cross-training. It’s something that could come in handy if you ever have to go out and find a job.

Last week, the county decided to transfer Hillsborough County Animal Services Director Ian Hallett to the Parks and Recreation department. County Administrator Mike Merrill was quoted as saying that although Hallett’s management style didn’t seem to work at Animal Services, he had some management qualities that he thought would work over in the parks department.

That might be true. The tree-hugging lobby in the county is nowhere near as loud as the dozens of animal protection groups around here. I was never a fan of some of his policies at animal control, but his was a job that is almost a no-win one. Even the animal protection groups that flooded my email box could not always agree on the policies being carried out in the county.

So now, Hallett is out and best of all for him, he gets to keep his $104,000 salary.

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Nobody seemed too clear exactly what it is Hallett will be doing over at the parks department. County Commissioner Mark Sharpe is quoted in one story as saying Hallett is an “avid cyclist and outdoorsman.”

Makes you wonder why anyone would bother going to class anymore if you can earn a good six-figure job just by riding a bicycle and camping out.

At the same time, Code Enforcement Director Dexter Barge gets to move over to Animal Services as an interim director. I have no idea what experience Barge might have managing a department as critical and controversial as Animal Services. Maybe he has a couple of Labs at home.

What’s even stranger about all of this is that Barge will keep his job at code enforcement and I assume just drop by Animal Services to make sure somebody turns the lights on and off, although one memo says Barge is supposed to restore confidence in the department with the animal protection groups.

How that is all supposed to work is a little hazy, but then apparently Hillsborough County employees can multitask on a moment’s notice.

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I wonder if enough county citizens complained about the county commissioners whether Merrill could reassign them to something like the parks department, where they couldn’t do much harm?

Down here at the Type and Gripe factory we were, until very recently, tied in closely with a TV station. For a while, management tried to multitask us, sending us off to TV reporting school and asking some of the TV people to write news stories. It worked for some of us, but for the most part, we might have done better being linked with a radio station.

Now the people who own us went out a couple of weeks ago and purchased a steel company in Wisconsin.

It seems unlikely they would want any of us to become steel-driving men anytime soon, but if the county can create animal experts just like that, then we ought to be able to work in the steel factories easily enough ... don’t you think?

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