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Updated: 10/09/2012 09:36:55AM

Bowlin missed the mark about rec director issue

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The following letter was sent to Ed Bowlin by Lake Wales City Manager Terry Leary to Ed Bowlin. She asked that we share it with our readers.

I have just read your letter that was sent to the Lake Wales Mayor and Commissioners dated September 17, 2012 in which you accuse me of being untruthful, deceptive and untrustworthy. I take these accusations very seriously.

You are correct; I did send an e-mail to Commissioner Wojcik which was a forward of an editorial from The Lake Wales News concerning hiring a Recreation Director.

I did so because she had missed it in the paper and wanted to be knowledgeable of the article. You are also correct; I do have a friend, Dale Doughtery, who is a former, trusted employee from another city in Florida that is now Recreation Director for the City of Macon, Georgia. He has 2 graduate degrees, one of which is an MBA from Notre Dame University. His qualifications as an Assistant City Manager and/or Recreation Director are superior and the City of Lake Wales would be fortunate if he were to become part of the City Staff.

In June/July 2012 , we were deeply into preparation of the new 2012-2013 Budget. I had several meetings with staff to ascertain what our priorities were and how to keep spending under control.

Since arriving at Lake Wales, the recreation subject has been a non-stop discussion and was a large consideration in both the 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 Citizen Survey. Two things I learned: there is not enough support for extra spending on recreation at this time; we have no money to fund a full- fledged recreation program with a Director. I asked Dale to come and look at our fields and to give me his opinion as to how we were doing and make suggestions if he saw ways to improve. He coupled that with a family visit to Legoland, and spent a morning with me and a few parks employees. His input was quite valuable.

I mentioned my undertaking to several people including some of the Commissioners. I think I may have said “If this was a perfect world, I would hire Dale to work with me and he would make a great difference in the City in the future” No secrets, no collusion!!! It is part of my job to recruit and retain qualified employees in all functions for the benefit of the City.

Commissioner Wojcik did bring this up at a Commission workshop in August. I did say “this is coming out of left field” because it was. I so appreciate her willingness to propose what I could only hope to think about and I was a little taken back because I had dismissed the idea long before, realizing that the City was in no position financially to consider this. I put nothing in the budget to reflect this position. Later, I thanked her for her support and there is no more to the story.

I am disheartened, Mr. Bowlin, that City staff had to take the time to gather up your public records request concerning this. I am disheartened that I have to take the time to write this letter to defend myself and I am disheartened that the Commissioners have to read all this with their valuable time.

I am mostly disheartened that with all the major issues facing the City of Lake Wales, i.e. saving its infrastructure, fighting crime , maintaining its facilities, encouraging economic development, trying to remove blight and trying to deal with declining property values, this non-issue will take up valuable energy.

I came to Lake Wales to try and make a difference. These non-issues do nothing to further that goal.