My father-in-law, who had his debut section “Howard’s Car Care” printed in the latest edition of the Concurrent, laughed as someone he was calling about an unrelated matter brought up that they just saw his picture in the paper.
“It’s a great little paper,” this person said of the Concurrent. I love this description. The only adjective I hope people don’t use when describing the paper is that it is a criticism outlet.
While there is a subtle difference between being critical and alleging criticism, it is best to avoid asking the audience to make the distinction. The easiest way to do this is to put situations into context through metaphor.
Lately I have been using sports analogies, especially with the March Madness basketball tournament that concluded Monday night, on the podcast. I’ve tried to refrain from relying on sports metaphors too heavily because they don’t always appeal to the broadest audience but this column extends the same metaphor.
Today, though, we go to the NFL.
Citrus County is the Green Bay Packers. The Packers have a unique ownership structure, mainly that they are not owned by anyone. A seven-person executive committee issues stocks when revenue is needed and the public buys completely meaningless shares to help the team.
This board oversees the general manager who is in charge of creating the best team for the public to enjoy. This is where the metaphor might look like it is trending to call County Administrator Randy Oliver the general manager.
He’s not. He’s Aaron Rodgers.
Future hall of fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers has won back-to-back MVPs and the executive committee considers him as the sole critical piece to the Packers success. The potentially most talented quarterback to ever play the game though, only has one championship 12 years ago. This is because of demands he makes of the executive committee.
The Packers extended Rodgers’ contract this offseason to make him the highest paid NFL player at roughly $50 million per year. This came after a falling out between the star and the team that almost led to his retirement several times. At first it was unclear what Rodgers wanted - whether it was a more competitive team or more money. Ultimately though, it was never about love for the team but rather about collecting a check.
The same situation unfolded as Oliver would have gladly walked away with a severance rather than seeing through the work he had spent over half a decade building.
The contract extension came as a surprise to many fans who thought the Packers had soured on Rodgers after he wasn’t entirely honest about his vaccination status. By saying he was immunized without clarifying that this meant unvaccinated, Rodgers misled the team that was then left without their star at a critical point in the season when he had to undergo more stringent covid policies after testing positive because he was unvaccinated.
This lie is similar to Oliver burying the staff report on employee morale under the ridiculous pretense that the report wasn’t finished. Both Rodgers and Oliver knew their actions were wrong but wanted to personally benefit from letting others believe their oversight was trivial.
The final similarity between Citrus County and the Green Bay Packers is in the exodus of talented personnel.
Davante Adams, a top 5 wide receiver, asked to be traded to the Raiders. In the weeks after the trade, leaks to the media explained this as Adams never feeling close to Rodgers. This cold feeling toward the team’s on-field leadership caused him to look elsewhere.
The employee survey told the same story. Many employees liked their immediate supervisor but a disconnect existed between leadership and the rank-and-file. This could also be from the director level to the administration.
Yesterday, an email circulated announcing that Code Enforcement Director Scott McKinney would be leaving his position. This comes just over one week after the county lost Public Works Director Brian Kauffman. McKinney and Kauffman make five directors lost since the first of the year. One of these positions was filled, then the candidate backed out after initially accepting the offer.
The county faces a serious problem but some commissioners are as blinded by bias as most fans are to think that everything is going to work out because of one person. Rodgers won’t save the Packers from mediocrity this season as long as the team continues to coddle him, nor will Oliver solely pull us out of this mess as staff continues to leave.