By Mike Lednovich
Not much was known about the city commission’s appointment of Richard Sala as one of two advisors assisting the Citizens City Manager Search Committee as they begin the task of finding a new city manager.
Vice Mayor David Sturges boasted that Sala had 40 years of experience as city manager of the city of Ft. Lauderdale in his introduction of the candidate. That was grossly overstated. Sala lists four years as city manager of North Lauderdale, a city one-fifth the size of Ft. Lauderdale. None of the other commissioners probed Sala’s background.
Sala’s complete employment history is a mystery. The Fernandina Observer has left voice messages on a cellphone number believed to be Sala’s and has not had a response in five days of trying. A landline listed to him also goes unanswered.
His employment record ends in 2012 in the available online records. But what the public record does show is that what Sala brings to the table is a proven record of bringing hotels, malls and retail businesses to the cities for which he worked. For many years, Sala’s focus has been on redevelopment efforts in mostly beach cities.
A city’s redevelopment executive is responsible for leading the revitalization and redevelopment of urban areas. Their number one goal is to identify opportunities for development and then create and implement plans to revitalize those areas that have fallen into disuse.
In Fernandina Beach, for example, that would be the city’s riverfront and historic downtown areas.
In 2004, as executive director of beach redevelopment in North Lauderdale Sala brokered a deal for a $30 million Marriott supported by a $23 million bond issued by the city for street improvements, sewer lines and landscaping.
In 2005, as city manager, he visited Turkey in hopes of attracting Turkish olive oil, textiles and marble to the city.
Sala got positive press in 2008 when North Lauderdale was picked by noted marine life artist Robert Wyland for his 99th wall mural, thanks to Sala’s efforts. Then Sala was fired in 2009.
The public record for Sala falls off a cliff after 2012. After being fired as city manager of North Lauderdale, Sala went to work as a urban redevelopment consultant for the firm of Calvin Giordano & Associates in Ft. Lauderdale.
The firm touted Sala’s expertise in a contract bid in 2012 with the city of Parkland, Fl. GC&A wrote in the application that Sala had served as its contract manager in projects for the city of Miami Springs, Pompano Beach and Dania Beach focusing on urban design, streetscapes and infrastructure.
Sala no longer works for that firm. When contacted by the Fernandina Observer, no one at GC&A could remember or at least was willing to talk about Sala’s tenure with the firm.
No one but Sala can fill in the blanks for the last nine years of his career. And after hours of effort to find him by several Fernandina Observer staff members, there’s no evidence that he wants to be found.
It seems as though the Vice Mayor is running this city. Where is the mayor???
He’s not running the City but he’s falling all over himself to do the Mayor’s bidding.
He knows Baby Bean wants to do this without a firm. Obviously he’s willing to make whatever gaffes are necessary to to help him out.
It appears that our former Mayor has a very bad case of sour grapes!
Sour grapes? Seems he just presented facts.
Aesop’s Fox in no way concerned speaking Truth to power. True facts never sour. False statements do. The ‘bad case’ seems to be a diagnosis for the councilman and this comment. The former Mayor, of which there are many, just exposes the Facts which to the deceitful are frightening.
Very odd that there is no recent record of this guy
Odd does not begin to cover it. What confidence should we have that we will get the best candidate for the job when we cannot even fathom who is conducting the search?
When you are unable to confirm employment with a firm, you might be in presence of a con man, moving from city to city in order continue his life undetected
Something is amiss when a public official drops off the radar …why is he not taking phone calls? If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck….
Another act in the three ring clown circus.
Thank you, Mike Lednovich, and other Fernandina Observer reporters for continuing to investigate and report FACTS about what is going on in our city government.
How can we trust the city to vet the City Manager applicants if they cannot even vet the advisors appointed to the Search Committee. Why did an unsolicited call from “a guy” not raise red flags? Why did the Commissioners vote to appoint him without even being provided a resume?
Why do towns like Fernandina allow elected officials to continually mislead and get away with it? Nobody ever challenges them because they’re not prepared to rebut the officials and officials plan on that.
With apologies to Kurt Vonnegut.
It makes sense to ask Mr. Sturges if he has received or asked for Mr. Sala’s resume, the date they talked or communicated, and, further, if he can connect Mr. Sala with the FO. This story doesn’t say if this information was requested.
Seems that hard-hitting investigative reporter Mike Lednovich has landed a staff job at The Fernandina Observer. He hit the ground running with an expose on squirrels stealing nuts from city property. Kinda makes us all feel proud.