Len Sossamon was hired as Hernando’s County Administrator in May of 2012 nearly four years ago. In 2013, he took over the duties of the vacant Economic Development Manager with a substantial increase in pay.
And, to say that Sossamon has brought jobs to Hernando County would be a gross overstatement.
Yet, that is exactly the spin county minions and county commissioners were putting on Sossamon’s performance back in December 2015 when they sent out this press release titled Economic Vision Brings Jobs to Hernando County. Every news outlet in Hernando County ran with the story, except Florida News Flash. We didn’t run it because we knew it wasn’t true.
At the heart of the press release was this statement, “Recent efforts have led to two local business expansions and five new businesses relocating to Hernando County. At full capacity these new and expanding businesses represent 230 new jobs, 101 retained jobs and more than 230,000 square feet of new or absorbed space.”
So, we asked the county for documentation concerning these claims. The document they sent is shown below.
Take a close look and you will notice that 220 of the 230 jobs they claim will be created over a three year period come from three companies. Yet, we have been unable to document one single job created from these deals after nearly a year.
Contractually, some of these companies have to meet minimum standards of job creation in order to continue receiving county benefits. Case in point, Transformation Aviation Services. It doesn’t appear they will meet their contract minimum standards.
Go see for yourself. If you drive by Transformation Aviation Services or TreeUmph, you will find no activity. We drove over last Friday and saw nothing at either place.
In addition, earlier this year we made it a point to call all of the businesses on this list. Granted some would not talk to us. But, those that did said Sossamon had nothing to do with their decision to locate or expand in Hernando County. Most already had ties to the community and wanted to be here for that reason.
The sad part, many didn’t even know who Sossamon was and had never talked to him.
In addition, a Tampa Bay Times article dated November 5, 2015 seems to imply that Sossaman was responsible for more than $2 million in grants for projects at the Brooksville-Tampa Bay Regional Airport with more on the way.
Unfortunately, what is never mentioned in the article is that the former Hernando County Aviation Authority, which was disbanded by Sossamon and County Commissioners, was responsible for initiating those applications and obtaining the grants. Not Sossamon.
All in all, it seems there is a committed effort by county staff, local media, and government officials to cast Sossamon’s job performance in a favorable light.
Despite all of Sossamon’s strikeouts, Hernando County Commissioners a few weeks ago gave him a glowing job performance review. All the commissioners that is, except one. Commissioner Jeff Holcomb was not so generous in praising Sossamon and rated his performance average.
At least one commissioner doesn’t have blinders on and isn’t being fooled by Sossamon’s shenanigans. And with the upcoming 2016 elections, maybe some new commissioners will join him.
Just like the Hernando Times, Sossamon’s days are numbered.
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