An Exit Interview With George Gretsas

     Fort Lauderdale City Manager George Gretsas will only hold that special title for two more days.

     As you may know, as of Saturday, July 31st, Manager Gretsas will just be another former Fort Lauderdale City Manager. The Fort Lauderdale City Commission decided not to renew his contract by a vote of 3-2.

     One citizen activist, Cal Deal, who’s plenty happy to see him leave, just sent me this  …

                             
                            See it tick down to 5 p.m. Saturday at  www.fortlauderdaleobserver.com/countdown

I spoke to Gretsas today about his time here in Fort Lauderdale, about his admirers, and his detractors, and about his future plans.
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     me   …  “So George, only two more days left …  how’s it feel ?”

     Gretsas … “it’s an interesting time … sad to leave people you care about …. I loved this job”

     me …  “when did you first see Fort Lauderdale, and what were your impressions?”

     Gretsas … “I came here for a couple of hours when I was in White Plains   ….. we were working on our downtown and I came to take some pictures of Las Olas  ….  magnificent …. natural resources …. quality of life…. a special city”
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     Gretsas came to work here on August 1, 2004, so he’ll be leaving just at six years of employment. This was him back then …

                                                     

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     me … “did you know when you signed on six years ago that this would be a temporary job?”

     Gretsas … “everything in life it temporary …. City Manager jobs are more volatile than most jobs….. political whims”

     me … let’s settle a few rumors !

     Gretsas … Oh no!      
    
     me …  “Some say you’ll stay in town and run for the City Commission?”

     Gretsas … [chuckles] “I’ve never said that to anyone”

     me … “and some say you are getting married here in October, so you will be staying here”

     Gretsas … ” I am getting married in Miami on October 30th”  [location due to wife’s family] …. “and my preference is to keep my place on the Fort Lauderdale Beach, if I can” (regardless of his future employment)

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     Gretsas has hardcore fans and bitter opponents….. He has been praised in the press, and beaten in the blogs…  This picture showed up after a difficult public discussion of his employment contract.

                                    

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     me … ” Does Fort Lauderdale know what it wants to be when it grows up?”

     Gretsas … “there’s lots of conflicts, lots of different views …. I say our best customer is an educated consumer   …. but there are the malcontents  ….. only happy with dysfunction …. just a handful of people …. but they get as much traction as all the rest ….”

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     Gretsas ferociously defends his performance here in Fort Lauderdale. He points to ( and crows!) about the poor fiscal conditions he inherited when he arrived, and the solvency of the City today. He says no one person can take credit for that, but is proud of his accomplishments,  ” like a plant you nurture”.

     He says he worked hard, often until 10 or 11 at night, long days and weekends.
 
     He scoffs at suggestions that the major increases in the budget during his tenure were avoidable…  ( He says he did exactly what his bosses wanted). I asked ” it’s not all new cars and fancy furniture?” ….   he yelped “absolutely not”.

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     me … ” Commissioner Charlotte Rodstrom doesn’t like you one bit…. what’s behind that?  … and are her criticisms fair?

     Gretsas … “I don’t know what’s behind it, you’ll have to ask her….. I tried really hard to try and please her…… I thought all along (spiritually) that our relationship was redeemable  …. Rodstrom just does her thing”

                                                                                

                                                                                        Rodstrom on the campaign trail

     me …  and Commissioner Bruce Roberts, did the bad blood just run too deep”

     Gretsas …. ” it didn’t for me, but we had significant philosophical disagreements”

                                                                                                

                                                                                        Roberts as Chief of Police
                                                        
           
      me … “any advice for incoming Manager Love, and those that will come after her?”

    Gretsas … ” just do what the bosses want… within the law …. within your moral comfort”