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published: Tuesday, June 19, 2012
Board votes to suspend Helms
By ED BALDRIDGE
SEBRING -- In two separate motions, commissioners voted Tuesday to put County Administrator Rick Helms on administrative leave for 14 days, at which time they will vote on his termination.
Commissioner Barbara Stewart made the motion to suspend Helms and received a second from Commissioner Ron Handley.
Board Chairman Jack Richie also voted to suspend Helms.
Handley turned out to be the swing vote in a 3-2 decision after Commissioners Don Elwell and Greg Harris made passionate pleas to keep Helms.
Elwell explained how he took surveys from county department heads, the public and county staff in general. His results showed that Helms received a better than average rating from the public and county staff.
"He is not worthy of a 4.0 and his leadership has to improve. I have to approach this from a common-sense approach. I really, really plead with all of you to share that with me," Elwell said after a 30-minute presentation of his public and staff surveys.
"I perceive personality conflicts that are keeping Ricky from doing his job," Harris said. "I am disappointed in this board of trying this twice."
"I don't think that going forward, Rick is the county administrator we need," Handley said. "Nothing against him personally, but I have not seen improvement over the last five months."
Handley continued to explain that, in his opinion, Helms had not kept commissioners informed nor has taken the steps necessary to communicate effectively with commissioners.
"I don't know if that is his responsibility," countered Harris.
Richie took his turn to explain how his vote of no confidence was based on personal experiences and complaints of Helms showing favoritism.
"When you show favorites with employees, you create problems down the line," Richie said about Helms.
The commission immediately voted 5-0 to put Assistant County Administrator June Fisher in as interim.
Richie announced his wife was in the hospital and would leave the meeting at that point.
After Richie's departure, the remaining commissioners voted 4-0 to extend the contractual seven-day notice of a termination vote to 14 days because Harris had a scheduling conflict on June 26.
Attempts to reach Helms after the meeting were unsuccessful.
Karma (by: been there - 8/2/2012)
Karmas no fun- is it Mr Helms? People support you and say youre doing your job and they fire you anyway. Now you know how it felt when you did it to me.
B. Stewart (by: Just prayin' - 6/20/2012)
Rick has been in Ms Stewart's line of fire since he took this position. She has not given him a chance to let him "shine"! I want to say that "GOD has it all under control!"
Number one mistake (by: Citizen - 6/20/2012)
Mr. Helms number one mistake with his choice for 3rd in charge.
Thank you Mr. Elwell (by: Watching and waiting to vote - 6/20/2012)
If you haven't seen the video of the meeting, you should watch it-see www.hcbcc.org. Thank you Commissioner Elwell for taking the time, energy and commitment to make a prudent decision based on factual research polled from the very people you represent. I was impressed by your efforts to inject logic into the process and appalled by reactive comments from other board members. It's impressive Mr. Helms continues to produce throughout this mess.
Rick Helms (by: Phil Gilroy - 6/19/2012)
An open letter to the Highlands County Commissioners: This letter is a voice of not just mine, but of many people I have spoken to over the many months this has been going on. Rick Helms has bailed this county out after previous and current commissioners hired Michael Wright, who turned out to be Michael Wrong who was released (at a very high cost). He took command at your request and worked for months at assistance pay while he did the jobs of the number one man. Later he got his new contract and continued his daily job for all the months this witch hunt has been going on. No one can explain to me (us) what this man did to be fired. Was it dereliction of duty? Was he always late, left early, drunk, misappropriated funds, showed favoritism, sexual harassment, and nepotism? No one can seem to put a finger on what exactly he did. I was at the county meeting this morning (June 19). I also took a poll like Don Elwood did (kudos Don), and almost everyone I have talked to want Rick Helms to keep his job. Mr. and Mrs. County Commissioners, your constituents do not, repeat, do not want you to fire him. He did nothing to deserve this. You might be looking at a law suit for unjustly firing him. This is wrong; this is not what the voters want done. To let the head man go in the middle of the biggest budget crisis we have ever encountered is Ludacris. Who do you think can do it better than Helms, another high priced out of towner like last time? I ask you all to please reconsider your position on this matter. Shake hands, make up, and let the man get back to doing his best for the county he has worked for for 35 years. I know Rick personally, and I know he has too much pride, too much fear of God, and too much loyalty to his peers not to do a job and give it 110% every day. He will take time to explain county situations with anybody who asks. He doesn’t talk down or rude. He knows he works for us, as do you commissioners. I ask not just for myself, but for the majority of citizens to keep this man on the team. Highlands County needs him, more than he needs Highlands County. Please reconsider.
Ricky Helms (by: Preston H. Colby - 6/19/2012)
In a month Helms will look back and realize that he doesn't have that 800 lbs gorilla on his back and say to himself, why did I stay there as long as I did.
Mr. Helms (by: Spectre - 6/19/2012)
It looks like Barbara Stewart got her way after all. I think we all know how the upcoming "vote to terminate" is going to come out. It's a shame that personality conflicts have to get in the way of county business But, that's the way it's pretty much been here for many many years. The county is starting to remind me of Avon Park politics. So......who's going to be the NEXT scapegoat to fill Mr. Helm's position? I'll close this out by saying that, the smartest thing Mrs. Stewart has done in the last 4 years is decide NOT to run for another term.
This is BS (by: me - 6/19/2012)
HCC, you should be absolutely ashamed of yourselves. Rick has done a great job and you are too stupid to see it. I think Barbara Stewart hates everybody. I think Barbara Stewart sits in sand spurs to start the day and it's all downhill from there.
Mae Lee (by: The Shutt Chute - 6/19/2012)
You should have joined him at Mae Lee's diner on North Ridgewood. Not only do they have a great Greek sub sandwich, it's where Mr. Helms and his wife had lunch. Phil at Mae Lee's was at the BCC meeting and he wasn't happy with their decision today. I wonder if he treated Mr. Helms to lunch?
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