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Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


Fleetwood’s gone but not too late for Viola

Good government administrators are hard to find, simply because there’s more to the job than solid managerial ability, budgeting experience and people skills. The occupants of these top posts must also be able to work well with a changing lineup of elected officials, regardless of their personal politics and philosophies. Ocean Pines and the Town of Berlin know about that, having have had experiences over the years with general managers and town administrators who didn’t quite mesh with the elected leadership. Sometimes is simply a matter of clashing personalities or management styles and has nothing to do with an individual’s qualifications or job experience. Further, most hiring authorities will admit that no matter how many interviews and background checks a job applicant may be subjected to, it is almost impossible for them to know who will meet that vague standard known as “a good fit.” It’s always a roll of the dice, and all town councils and governing boards can do is try to tilt the odds in their favor. That’s why Berlin’s loss of Town Manager Jeff Fleetwood in April and the pending departure of Ocean Pines General Manager John Viola make life more difficult for Berlin’s mayor and council and for the Ocean Pines Association Board of Directors. Both have done excellent jobs and will be difficult to replace. In Berlin’s case, Fleetwood wasn’t as finished with government as he thought he was. He’s in line for the town manager’s job in his home port of Delmar, with the council there expected to vote whether to hire him later this month. Would he have stayed longer with the right incentives or a change of circumstances? No one can say, but it does beg the question whether Viola’s service to the OPA might be extended were he to be asked. The directors haven’t offered any indication that this has happened, nor are they liable to, but given the solid results Viola and his administrative team have delivered over the past couple of years, it’s a question that the board should ask.