On Monday, May 20, 2019, Steve Howard was interviewed by the Clay County, Florida Board of Commissioners. Like in his attempt last year to jump ship to Pinellas County, Howard was rejected by Clay County, too.
Unlike the secretive and entirely mute Camden Commissioners, their Clay counterparts hold open meetings during which they actually speak in public. The sessions are broadcast live on cable TV and videos of the sessions are posted on line. It's a refreshing change from Camden's primitive secrecy, backroom deals, and 5-0 votes.
Click the image below to hear Steve Howard's interview with Clay County, Florida for their County Manager position. Click the "Individual Discussions with County Manager Finalists." Howard is the second candidate to interview, so fast forward to 33:55 minutes into the video.
Howard is free, like any other person, to pursue employment where ever he likes. Our interest in his determination to leave Camden is that he is the Spaceport Camden Project Lead. No one else in the County has been as connected to the events and decisions putting us where we are. Howard has met regularly with the FAA, consultants, and lawyers and he directs the public relations program. He is regularly quoted in news stories and press releases as the authority on Spaceport Camden. Camden taxpayers pay his spaceport travel expenses and his membership in the Commercial Spaceflight Federation. He even told his Clay County interviewers that Camden County was a failed finalist for a $150 million spaceport project. It is fair to try to understand what his job hunting means to the spaceport project. Is it possible that Howard knows the spaceport project is collapsing and has tried to keep it going as long as he can while he finds a safe place to land? If it is collapsing, how long has he known? And do the Commissioners have a full understanding of the situation?
The Purple BOLD are Howard's own words:
It appears Steve Howard does not intend to see his Spaceport Project through unless Camden hires him as a paid Spaceport Consultant after he leaves the County. Since Howard has worked closely with self-professed Spaceport Subject Matter Expert Andrew Nelson (who we've paid over a million bucks), it is easy to see why Howard would want to be like him. It's a great gig if you can convince the Camden Commissioners to pay for it. Meanwhile, our Public Safety officers, firemen and EMS techs struggle with being among the lowest paid in Southeast Georgia. And we're told to expect a property tax millage increase on this year's tax bill.
Assuming that Howard really does find a job elsewhere, does that mean Jimmy Starline will once again "thrust" the spaceport back onto the JDA? Will JDA Director James Coughlin now be the designated "Spaceport Project Lead" who will manage the collapse of the spaceport during his watch? Or could that be why Shawn Boatright was hired as County DEPUTY ADMINISTRATOR last year? Howard even made a big deal about "planning succession" in his remarks to the Clay Commissioners, so just how long has he known the spaceport was dead?
It seems likely that Howard, and perhaps some of the Commissioners, knew millions of spaceport dollars ago that the spaceport project was floundering aborted and that Howard's legacy was turning into a millstone. If the Commissioners didn't know the extent of the problems, whose failure was that? Isn't that similar to the mismanagement that we've seen with the PSA?
Is that the type of "Trust and integrity" that Howard referred to in his Clay County job interview?
Here's a suggestion for Steve Howard about where he can find a job:
In his interview, Howard said this about the spaceport, "It’s not about launching the rockets, it’s about everything else.” We suggest that he apply to Oklahoma Air and Spaceport, or Kodiak (Alaska) Spaceport, or Midland (Texas) Air and Spaceport where they've held spaceport licenses for many years but never launched a rocket. He can help them develop the "everything else" that's never materialized under their previous less "transformational leadership." We've heard that Alaska pays well and it's very, very, very far from Camden County.
But unlike in his applications to Pinellas and Clay Counties, Howard can list his work during the past several years on Spaceport Camden. They'll surely be impressed. Maybe he can get his new employer to pay his dues so he can remain a Director of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation where his bio ALREADY fails to mention Camden County, Georgia.