Vince Long is slick. There’s really no other way to put it. How else to describe a guy who, in the span of 24 hours, somehow managed the announcement that his boss, Leon County Administrator Parwez Alam, was retiring, then got seven County Commissioners to unanimously vote to name him as the replacement, complete with a 30% raise, and without seriously considering putting the opening out for bid?
In fact, only one County Commissioner, District Five’s Kristin Dozier, even broached the subject during the discussion. And even then she did so by saying that opening the process up to other applicants “would only help cement Vince’s profile as the best”.
24 hours. Seven votes. No bids. And a roughly $40,000 raise, complete with addition car allowances and $12,000 in “deferred compensation” Mr. Long freely admits “is undoubtedly an additional benefit”.
Oh, and the whole deal was sold as a fiscally conservative maneuver, as Long’s old position was eliminated, and between his old salary and the difference between his new one and Alam’s old salary, the County expects to save $250,000 a year.
Like we said, Vince Long is slick. Of course, he’s also generally considered to be among the top professionals in his position (past and present) in the state, touts a faculty position at FSU’s Askew School of Public Administration and Policy (as well as a Master’s degree from said school) and has graduated from the Executive program at Harvard’s JFK school of Government. His resume is literally over four pages long, and it seems like it takes longer to read it than it took the County to name him as Alam’s successor.
In a different time, maybe the discussion would have lasted a little longer. But with the local economy staring the legislative led layoffs and pension pinching in the face and pocketbook, and the County trying to close a 13 million dollar deficit, the prevailing wisdom was that Vince Long was the right man, at the right time, for the job.
And for the record, Vince Long really likes the business he is in. He is always ready to trot out a stat about the leanness of the County workforce as compared to other counties around the state, even though he will also concede no other county has as strong and singular a governing entity as the City of Tallahassee to work alongside.
But Long takes genuine pride in the staff he has helped put in place, and is the first to admit his heavy reliance upon them, especially now that the staff is down one administrative position.
“Vince is a one-percenter” says Alan Rosensweig, Deputy County Administrator. “Some people need 90 percent of the information about an issue to make a decision. Some people need 50. I’m probably a five or 10 percent person. But Vince only needs one. And at his level, that’s how it should be. He trusts his staff. Around here, you have to sort of just figure it out. We’re so lean, we just give people issues and say ‘it’s yours’. And we’ve got the horsepower to pull it off.”
Time will tell. Certainly more challenges await. The County chose not to raise the millage rate this year, but swears it will have to happen next year as property values continue to decline and some additional expenses add up.
“If you can’t get excited about the challenges facing local governments today, you’re in the wrong business,” Long says.
Right or wrong, Vince Long is exactly where he wants to be.