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History being made as contenders vie for security patrol manager

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image Bob Powers and Mike Albanese

For the first time in its known history, there’s competition for the volunteer slot atop this community’s security patrol management.


SUN CITY CENTER – For the first time in its known history, there’s competition for the volunteer slot atop this community’s security patrol management.

And, while it’s not as slicing as Dem donkeys warring with GOP pachyderms on the battlefield of America’s TV screens nor as dicey as the gun-totin’ Hatfields and McCoys, the friction may generate heat enough to extend summer into early December here.

Bob Powers, a deputy chief, a member of the SCC Security Patrol board of directors and that board’s treasurer, is challenging current Chief of Patrol Mike Albanese for the title conferred by election every two years.

The security patrol chief is elected for a two-year term by a vote of the 30 odd team captains, each charged with overseeing a day’s shift of volunteer drivers and dispatchers, according to the organization’s by-laws.

The SCC Security Patrol, Inc., now about 30 years old and almost entirely composed of volunteers, also is a not-for-profit corporation under Florida’s incorporation laws and a tax exempt organization designated as a 501(c)3 under the federal IRS code which also imposes certain responsibilities in exchange for the tax status. Its financial reports put its assets at more than $1 million, most of them in liquid accounts and much of it from individual donations.

Powers, with an estimated 1,600 volunteer hours in multiple positions at the patrol to his credit, describes himself as a “problem solver” interested in working with the board to maximize patrol assets while reducing and eliminating its liabilities wherever possible.

The “planks in the platform,” he said, “involve specifically acknowledging, encouraging and rewarding the volunteers, restoring public confidence in and enhancing the image of the patrol, rebuilding the integrity of the office of the patrol chief” and, as chief, “being more visible in the community.”

Powers, who spent more than 40 years building and maintaining high power lines for electric utilities – much of it in supervisory capacities – said he thinks his experience as a manager and as a rental property owner can only benefit the patrol. “Good people skills are essential for a healthy, growing patrol.”

Albanese may have attracted opposition in his first re-election race because of a series of events and occurrences dating back more than a year for which he has been considered responsible or to which he has been linked.

At various times, members of the patrol’s nine-person board of directors – of which Albanese is one – have complained that he has violated the organization’s own governing regulations with such actions as engaging a paid accountant without the board’s knowledge and by making substantial purchases with patrol funds ranging from a $600 office coffee pot to five new vehicles totaling nearly $100,000 without the board’s agreement.

Late last year, Albanese became embroiled in a lingering spat with a once-active volunteer, Uta Kuhn, over her performance as the appointed nominations committee chairman charged with establishing qualifications for elected directors. Ultimately Albanese “fired” Kuhn as a volunteer, accusing her of miss-use of a patrol credit card – a charge that never was proved.
In a February, 2012, letter to Albanese, six directors went on record, castigating the chief for his “extremely damaging” personnel management of both volunteers and staff, advising him of legal provisions that could result in his removal from office.

Earlier this summer, Albanese, along with others, was questioned as part of an internal investigation of patrol transactions undertaken by detectives in the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office. No charges were leveled at the time.

When questioned, both by board members and outside parties including a reporter, the patrol chief long has declined to provide records or verifications supporting his actions. This week, however, he told The Observer that he is running for re-election and that he believes he has the support of about 20 of the current 31 captains.

 “I have nothing to hide,” he emphasized, adding that he has not answered questions in the past because they struck him as “raking him over the coals.” But there are and have been substantiating records, he said, verifying, for example, his transactions involving patrol vehicles.

 He said he sold five former patrol cars – four Hyandais and one Chevrolet Malibu - to a Brandon wholesale dealer for a total of about $53,000 and five new vehicles – four Ford Escape SUVs and a Chrysler 200 – were purchased from two inland dealerships for about $98,000. The entire set of transactions produced five new patrol vehicles for about $45,000, he added.
Albanese said he does not plan to campaign for re-election, suggesting there are no reasons to do so. “I’ve done a good job,” he asserted, “I don’t need to campaign.”

And, when first asked, the chief said he does not have any specific new ideas taking shape for a second term as the patrol’s day-to-day manager. He soon modified that remark, saying he does have some ideas about improvements but is not willing to publicize them yet. “I’m tired of getting beat up,” he added.

Meanwhile, Powers told The Observer he does plan to mount a communications campaign to make it clear what he wants to do for the patrol and how he believes those enhancements can be undertaken within a harmonious organization.

Copyright 2012 Melody Jameson

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