Goodbye Mike. Hello Ayn. And About That (In)Famous Picture.

The saga taking place at Satellite Beach took another step on Wednesday as the City Council voted to hire Ayn Samuelson to replace City Manager Mike Crotty who is retiring. Samuelson will be paid $8,000 a month for 180 days. The hiring of Samuelson raises an interesting question as to the qualifications of a City Manager. The three other candidates had prior experience as a City Manager. Samuelson does not. That is not a knock against Samuelson, but rather begs the question “is a person who served as a City Manager more or less qualified than a person who served as a manager, business owner, etc in the private sector?” The reason we ask is, frankly, when serving in the public sector becomes its own career path, that frightens us to some extent. It is one thing to have experience as a City Manager and another thing to have experience as a manager in other positions and other job paths. We have no particular stance on this, but are simply pondering the situation as a mental exercise.

Samuelson was contacted by the Florida Today newspaper:

I’m honored and touched that the City Council has chosen me to work with them and move the city forward — and start the healing process. I see that as being very important,” Samuelson said in a phone interview minutes after she was selected.

Frankly, this statement has us baffled a little bit. If part of the job description for City Manager is “help a city heal,” we have already lost. It is one thing to note the disagreement between groups in the city, but it should be remembered that some members of the current City Council took Mike Crotty to task publicly for failing to condemn what they considered unfair and undue attacks by friends of Crotty.

Here’s a news flash for the City Council and the incoming City Manager. We don’t want a City Manager who gets involved in the politics of the City. The position of City Manager is administrative – not political. The City Manager must work with City Councils and council members of all political leanings. When the City Manager is sitting behind their desk, their job is a-political.

The best way to “start the healing” is to do the requirements of the job without reference to the political division. When a professional does what is right instead of what is seen as political pandering or leanings, we all win. It is only when the City Manager remains above the fray that all citizens can feel the day to day administration of the city is independent of the political war going on here.

Mike Crotty wrote a letter to the Florida Today newspaper commenting on his time here in Satellite Beach. We have decided to reprint the letter here in its entirety:

A defining moment in my professional life occurred July 1, 1985 when I interviewed for the Satellite Beach city manager position. On July 1, 2012, I am retiring as city manager. What an incredible 27 years it has been!

Satellite Beach has a rich history of collaboration among its citizens and community groups resulting in the city we know today. As manager, I have had the good fortune to play a part in many of the projects that make our city a desired place to call home. A few of the memorable highlights include:

• Preserving in public ownership 40 percent of the city’s oceanfront, which will be a major part of the city’s legacy for current and future generations.

• Development of the 52-acre Samsons Island nature preserve.

• Elimination of the major drainage problems throughout the city. Longtime residents will remember pictures in FLORIDA TODAY of the long-ago practice of canoes traversing many of our streets after even moderate rains.

• Development of the 35-acre sports and recreation park, which provided many firsts for Brevard County, including a municipal dog park and skate park.

• Development of the 25,000-plus-square-foot David R. Schechter Community Center, which serves as the hub for many activities for toddlers through seniors.

• Partnership with Brevard County on numerous projects, especially the recent transfers of Pelican Beach Park and Hightower Beach to city ownership. These parks are now entrusted to our citizens to operate, maintain and preserve the fragile ecosystem of the beach environment.

However, I am most proud of the dedicated men and women who provide the essential city services that keep us safe and make our city what it is today.

Our Police Department was the first accredited department in the county; the Fire Department was the first municipal department to provide advanced life support services; the Recreation Department provides widely acclaimed services that folks travel many miles to participate in; the Public Works Department works diligently to maintain our facilities and appearance; and the outstanding City Hall folks, who are the glue that keep us together.

When I think back on the 27 years we have worked as a team and shared the awesome responsibility of Satellite Beach, I realize I couldn’t have even uttered my weakest of lines without them.

Recently, much discussion has occurred in the community, newspaper and even my neighborhood regarding my departure as a result of recent political events. During the past many months, I have taken the lead in encouraging discussion on my future role as manager, scheduling the special meeting Feb. 8 for this sole purpose.

I have shared with many in the community, including council members, that my overriding interest is what is ultimately best for the city. After much personal reflection, my wife, Chris, and I believe the course we have selected is in the best interest of the city.

My departure will pave the way for new leadership and insight that hopefully will lead to a more positive and collaborative community discussion on critical city issues. As I have discussed with council members and citizens, now is the time for our city to come together.

We know and recognize that anytime a person in a leadership position oversees an “operation” affecting nearly 10,000 people for 27 years, he is going to make decisions with which people will disagree. We also realize he will make some enemies for any number of reasons. That being said, we have never had cause to take issue with Crotty. He has always been gracious, accommodating, and helpful when we have spoken to him. We know that other citizens have had different and more negative experiences with Crotty than we experienced. No one – and we mean no one – is going to please all the people all the time. We are sure Crotty made mistakes and took missteps along the way. We bet some of those mistakes he wishes he could and should have done differently. All good managers make mistakes.

We are not trying to act as apologists for Mike Crotty. Far from it. We are simply relating our experiences with him and recognizing that others may have had different experiences.

That being said, we believe that no matter how we feel about Crotty retiring and the circumstances surrounding that retirement, the bar Crotty set for performance in the job of City Manager is rather high. We hope Ayn Samuelson does as well as Crotty in her new position and wish Mike Crotty continued success and happiness in where life now takes him.

And now, for your viewing pleasure, “the picture.”

Yep. This image was sent to us and purports to be the (in)famous picture that was sent to Vice Mayor Rhodes who asked about it during a City Council meeting and started a round of accusations on “agendas” and “competency.” The picture was forwarded to us by a citizen and we want to publicly thank him for that. We won’t mention his name, but he knows who he is.

On the left of the picture you can see the person in question carrying something that may or may not be a can of paint or something else. As we have said, what is being carried is not relevant. The goal should be to make sure the use of the COP car is within the guidelines set forth. If it is not, fix it. If it is, that is the end of it. We have said and will restate here that we are happy and agree with Chief Pearson’s position to reinforce the guidelines for the use of the car. That should be the end of it.

We certainly hoped it would be.

But like a piece of corn between our teeth, something about the image nagged at us. We couldn’t figure out what it was, so we started throwing a bunch of different things at it. We reversed it. We made it black and white. We blew out the contrast. We used programs that extrapolate pixels and were able to blow the image up to a good size. We looked at attributes of the image – both hidden, not hidden and embedded. We threw a bunch of other things at it as well.


We couldn’t figure out what is wrong with the image.

While staring at it, it came to us. The “issue” is not with what the image is showing, it is the image itself – specifically the size of the image itself.

The image that was forwarded to us is 576 X 546 pixels.

Got it yet?

The aspect ratio is off.

All images have a ratio between the height and width of the image. That ratio is called the “aspect ratio.” (A basic primer on aspect ratios can be seen here.) Most cell phone cameras have a ration of 3:2. Most digital cameras have an aspect ratio of 4:3. HD cameras have an aspect ratio of 1.44:1.

None of the native aspect ratio allows this picture to be taken as it sits now.

There is but on conclusion that can be drawn from this: the image has been cropped.

We cannot guarantee that this was the original image sent to Scott Rhodes. It could be the image was cropped before being sent to Rhodes. It could be the image that was sent to us was cropped after it was sent to Rhodes. We do not know when it was cropped, only that it was.

We do not know the reason or the motive for the cropping, but cropping is usually done to change the focus of the image or to eliminate something that people do not want seen.

As the entire content of the image is the focal point, we are hard pressed to think why someone would want to change the focal point. That leaves us with cropping the picture to eliminate something that someone does not want seen.

Yeah, we are getting a little conspiratorial here and in some ways we have donned a small tin foil hat to talk about this.

The point is not who cropped the image, we don’t care who did it. The point is that someone did. The image should have been presented without the cropping. Barring that, a cropped version and an un-cropped version should have been used. The city has reached a point where we are cropping photos to make a point instead of letting the image speak for itself.

(And to be clear, whether the image was cropped or not does not diminish Rhodes’ duty to ask about the policy on the use of the COP car. Rhodes had a good faith basis for the question.)

For the sake of all that is right, this needs to stop. It is ridiculous when people are doing stuff like this.

If the image was cropped to present a certain “point of view,” to the person who did so, we wish a proverbial “pox upon their house.”

And with that, we hope we are done with the “COP Car Caper” in Satellite Beach.

2 Responses to “Goodbye Mike. Hello Ayn. And About That (In)Famous Picture.”

  1. Stephen Reiss says:

    Dear Blogger & to all others,
    I admire your “best wishes” to Ms. Samuelson, and I will join in on giving her the benefit of the doubt and best wishes in her new position. Those sentiments, however, also come with a caveat. Ms. Samuelson, please know that you are under an enormous degree of scrutiny. Perhaps more than any of your predecessors, your actions are being watched for any signs of impropriety, please be aware.
    Now, on to the actual reason for my reply… “The C.O.P. Photo”. As you so rightfully point out the picture has been cropped, now the question is Why? With all of the appearances and suspicion of impropriety and political retribution, Vice Mayor Rhodes needs to release the uncropped photo so that “The People” can make their own decisions as to the validity of the accusations that have been made and eluded to.
    The fact that a cropped photo has been used to start “a round of accusations on ‘agendas’ and ‘competency'” is ultimately unfair, as it (by being cropped) is not telling the entire truth. Given time, and with the motivation of one’s own agenda, any number of cropped/retouched/photoshopped pictures could be brought forward to unfairly indite any public figure… Should we take any of those “at face value” to besmirch reputations and possibly force political opponents out of office or into early retirements?

    • AAfterwit says:

      Stephen Reiss,

      Thank you for your comment. As we said in the original post, Samuelson has both big shoes to fill and needs to stay out of the political fray which has divided the city. Her position is administrative and not political. She and the city would be well served to remain above the fray.

      With all of the appearances and suspicion of impropriety and political retribution, Vice Mayor Rhodes needs to release the uncropped photo so that “The People” can make their own decisions as to the validity of the accusations that have been made and eluded to.

      This makes a supposition that Councilman Rhodes has the uncropped image. It also makes the supposition that the image we received was the same as the ones Rhodes, French and Chief Pearson have.

      It has come down to this for us here at Raised on Hoecakes…..

      1) Rhodes was asking the question on the policy in good faith. The resolution of Chief Pearson stating he will remind people of the policy is good enough for us.
      2) Let’s take the worse case scenario as far as the volunteer is concerned. Let’s assume for a moment he had a lapse in judgement. Let’s say the city needed something fast and in order to help, he wasn’t attired properly. To extend the scenario even further, lets say the volunteer (who was identified at the City Council meeting as the “Volunteer of the Year” for the city) went to WamMart in blue Speedos, a bare mid-drift tank top with “Kiss the Cook” on it and wearing a hat which says “Fisherman Have Long Poles.” Even given all that, we would not be willing to slam the volunteer. The volunteer – as being named the Volunteer of the Year – has earned the benefit of the doubt. Rhodes, by being elected by a majority of the citizens of Satellite Beach has earned the benefit of the doubt as well.

      Instead of thinking the worst, we should be thinking the best of our fellow neighbors.

      That is what is really wrong with this whole incident. Instead of thinking “these are all people trying to do what is right,” there are people trying to equate sinister motives and partisanship on the issue.

      Chief Pearson got this one right. His response that he would reiterate and re-enforce the guidelines on the use of the COP car is perfect. It is a bottom line approach that moves the city forward, rather than remaining mired in what is ultimately an insignificant dispute.

      It is time to let this one go.

  2. […] wrote this in a comment following another post, but we don’t care if Mr. Speigelhalter took the COP to WalMart wearing “blue Speedos, […]