Tuesday, July 30th, 2013 at 10:53am

Lake’s Unemployment Trend Going Up

Posted by admin

The harsh reality that a sputtering recovery is stalling has become a huge concern for business and political leaders in Lake County.  In June, Lake County’s unemployment was pegged at 7.6%, which is up from 6.9% in April.  June is also the second month in a row the unemployment number got worse.  The total unemployment number for the state of Florida finished at 7.1%, which indicates the county is lagging behind.

Lake County and most local municipalities continue to suffer because of their inability to attract new sector business jobs.  What they are failing to understand is that companies and business interests gather thorough information about prospective new sites.  Then read the newspaper and internet articles on the underachieving schools, impact fees, regulations and taxes, and it is apparent that many do not like what they see.

Political leadership in Lake County talks a good line when it comes to job creation; however, they are struggling with actually getting jobs because they do not have the gumption to compete with other areas.  Our group has harped on this point for many years–businesses have the option to locate their new businesses where impact fees do not exist and a commercial building can be constructed in a few months.  There are cities and counties throughout America putting action behind their words, and their message is clear, “We want your business and we are going to make it easy!”

Lake County could be the job creation area of Florida and the nation if our political leaders would fundamentally change how they do business.  Businesses want to setup in Lake County, but they are spooked by the county’s anti-business bureaucracy. Our best example of successful job creation continues to be the City of Tavares.  Just look at everything they accomplished when impact fees and regulations were relaxed.

Final Note about Employment

Despite Lake County’s 7.6% unemployment rate, good workers are able to find jobs; in fact, in some areas there are true labor shortages. Unfortunately, business is competing with the Obama administration for workers because living on the government dole is less stressful.  The other hindrance to hiring is that many in our society cannot pass a drug test or felony background check.

Now take this to local government.  Good workers search the internet for prospective places to work.  We suspect that many potentially outstanding people are passing on local government jobs because of what some of our political leaders do and say.  The City of Leesburg is unable to find a competent City Manager–is it because the city’s hiring standards are too high or great candidates don’t like what they see?  Think about the exodus of employees in Groveland–is that normal?

Government officials on all levels in Lake County need to become more mindful of their statements and actions in public.  What they fail to realize is that they are employers, too, and nobody wants to work for a goofball.  Sure local governments and the school district can find warm bodies to put in positions, but can they find the best?

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3 Responses to “Lake’s Unemployment Trend Going Up”

  1. admin says:

    Unemployment actually went up in Sumter County but it easy to explain- Sumter County welcomed growth and there is this little thing called The Villages which has kept this entire area out of an economic depression over the last five years.

  2. But...But says:

    Unemployment is still falling in Sumter County! And they have impact fees?

    ‘splain that one, Mr. Construction Supply.

  3. Your article asks; “Think about the exodus of employees in Groveland–is that normal?”
    Unfortunately the answer is “for Lake County, yes that has become the norm” instead of the exception. The problem is in some of these corrupt agencies the good employee’s are stuck there and they don’t have any place to go! In Groveland several have been able to leave and some are preparing to talk about why.

    The corruption that has engulfed our government is easing in on all government agencies large and small.

    The following information was shared with us by unknown people who felt the RSOL was an excellent forum to air the facts concerning the goings on in Groveland that has led to the exodus of several employees’

    The anonymous author of this information is of course unknown. However we are assured the facts are true and correct.

    As you follow this story if you have kept up with the goings on in lake County government and many of the cities as well you will see the exact same actions occurring now that has occurred in other takeovers in the past.

    Sam Oppelaar is the Bob Mckee of Groveland, Florida. He refused to submit to the same background check that anyone would have to undergo. Oppelaar also refused to submit anything dealing with his 22 years in the military. In 2009 the Minneola City Council gave Oppelaar an option of being fired or resigning. He chose resignation and left. He did not return to the public sector but went to work for “defense contractors.” This is enough right here to ring the bells. You can be this guy is another Bush connected somehow like the courthouse rent a cops and the jail house Armor medical providers.

    There is so many of these criminals floating around out here now a says just waiting to move in and take over their assignments it is not worth the several hundred dollars it cost private individuals to do a through background check on them. And for that matter the crimes of a lot of these well connected goons have been cleansed by their buddies in the organization.

    What a shame, all those years of little old Groveland. Known for having had the longest serving chief of police in the USA at 43 years. He is barely gone and now they have lost another honest veteran law enforcement officer as chief – he will probably never say why – but the truth is the mob has moved in on little old Groveland and they are taking it over without firing a shot.

    The anonymous author begins here.

    Here is the lowdown on what is happening in Groveland. The charter says that the council cannot interfere with the daily running of the city which is the job of the City Manager. In order for Jim Gearhart to be the “defacto” city manager, he needed someone who would turn a blind eye to his take over. City Manager Dolly Miller would never allow Gearhart to run the city so she had to go. He began a campaign to sack her before the election. She knew she was gone if he won the election. He mounted a campaign of harrassment and threats and she gave in and resigned. Now comes the interesting issues. The council tells the taxpayers that they are going to do a legimate above board job search and hire the best talent available. They entered into an implied contract with the Groveland residents. Here is where the scam and fraud begins. The Council had City Attorney Anita Geraci-Carver create a job search description and application. She puts into writing that any applicant must have a minimum of 8 years experience, with wording that said….8 years experience is REQUIRED. They were advertising for an interim City Manager and after filling that job they would advertise for a permanent City Manager with the same 8 years experience

    REQUIREMENT. The open position was advertised throughout the state. Anita Geraci-Carver received 15 applications and reduced the number of applications to be presented to the Council down to 4. One of the applications was from Sam Oppelaar who had a total experience of 20 MONTHS, not the 8 years REQUIRED. He was City Manager in Minneola until he suspended the entire Fire Dept. for 48 hours leaving 10,000 innocent residents in harms way. Shortly after the suspension, the Minneola City Council gave Oppelaar an option of being fired or resigning. He chose resignation and left. This was in 2009 and he did not return to the public sector but went to work for defense contractors. Also in the job search was a requirement that each applicant was required to submit 4 job related references. On Oppelaar’s application, one of the references is Groveland Mayor James Gearhart. Oppelaar tells people that Gearhart is his personal friend. So Gearhart sponsors an application from a personal friend who only has 20 months experience instead of the City Attorney’s stated requirement of a minimum of 8 years as being required. I ask this question……what criteria did the City Attorney use when she advanced Oppleaar’s application without the REQUIRED 8 years experience? Oppelaar’s application should have been disqualified immediately. She reduced the 15 applications down to 4, so what disqualified the other 11 applications, but allowed Oppelaar’s 20 months of experience to qualify him ? Did Mayor James Gearhart interfere with the application process with Geraci-Carver ? Did he threaten to have her fired like he did to Dolly Miller ? Now it gets better. When the vote to hire Oppelaar for the interim city manager position came about, Vice Mayor Tim Loucks, and Councilman John Griffin vote YES to hire him and Councilmen James Smith and Jared Mincey voted NO to hiring him. Now the vote is 2 YES votes and 2 NO votes. The final vote to be cast is Mayor James Gearhart. The same Gearhart who added his name to Oppelaar’s application as a work related reference. The same Gearhart who Oppelaar calls his personal friend. The same Gearhart that knows Oppelaar does not meet the minimum requirement of 8 years REQUIRED experience. Gearhart had a vested interest in seeing his friend get the job. Gearhart failed to recuse himself as having a conflict of interest…Instead he voted YES to hire him giving Oppelaar a 3-2 decision. The City Attorney sat silent and did not call for Gearhart to recuse himself. He was the deciding vote and had a vested interest. At the Council meeting, Councilmen James Smith and Jared Mincey wanted Oppelaar to submit to the same background check that anyone would have to undergo. Oppelaar refused to submit anything dealing with his 22 years in the military. At that point Oppelaar sent the city a letter informing them of his decision to NOT take the job. Gearhart would not hear of this and championed a temporary waiver on the background check telling Councilmen Smith and Mincey that the candidate for the PERMANENT job would undergo a full background check. 43 days after Oppelaar started work as the INTERIM city manager, he was hired at a workshop not attended by the public, nor was his hiring permanently posted on the agenda. Gearhart, Loucks and Griffin wanted it done out of the sight of the public, and Griffin so states on the public record. And still no full background check. If you read all of the public records posted on Groveland’s website, you will see there never really was a real, legimate job search conducted. It was all a scam and fraud with Oppelaar being the ONLY one going to be hired. The FIX was in from day one. On the 43rd day of a 90 day intermim job Oppelaar was given, there were 79 applications sitting in the City Attorney’s office. Gearhart, Loucks and Griffin made no inquiries to the attorney about her job search or inquired about the 79 applications. How many of the 79 applications had the REQUIRED 8 years experience. We will never know because Gearhart, Loucks and Griffin hired a man with 20 MONTHS and now we have mass resignations of heavily talented professionals. I hold the City Attorney responsible for advancing Oppelaar’s application forward when he did not meet the very minimum requirement of experience. She has remained silent and refuses to answer questions. I think the Florida Bar Assoc. should get involved and get Groveland’s taxpayers and residents some answers from her. I think the State’s Attorney’s office should open a criminal investigation into the fraud that is known as the hiring of Sam Oppelaar as Groveland’s City manager. I think the state should investigate the trampling of Groveland’s charter, where Gearhart has illegally taken over all the decisions and is the defacto city manager. The most repulsive comments from Gearhart’s mouth…he is telling people…”The hand of God is upon Groveland driving the bad people out.” BAD PEOPLE ?? really ?? We need a thorough criminal investigation and let the pieces fall where they may. I comment Councilman James Smith and Councilman Jared Mincey for doing the right thing and standing up for the people of Groveland. They wanted to hire a candidate that had over 20 years experience and has a doctorate degree. I am sure if she had been hired we would have a full staff of professionals. It took Gearhart 3 people and over an extra $100,000 of taxpayer’s money to replace one person….Dolly Miller. Within Groveland, it is known as the “Gearhart Grudge,” and maybe a criminal investigation is what is needed to clear the air finally. If Oppelaar had more than 20 months experience he may have realized that city charter’s are for the running of the city and for the protection of a city’s residents. I am sure anyone with 8 or more years experience would have learned that by now.

    The sad news is the author of this article does not understand there is no one to complain too about the terrible goings on in Groveland. No one will intervene in this massive spread of corruption. It has been ongoing for years and many in the legislature as well as the governor of Florida and federal agencies are all part of this culture of corruption.

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