It’s no secret that Monroe County Administrator Roman Gastesi and Marathon City Manager Roger Hernstadt knew each other before they both took government jobs in the Keys. Both previously worked for Miami-Dade County, and both had years of public sector career experience before coming to Monroe County. But it’s been a big secret that Gastesi and Hernstadt have actually considered swapping jobs, with Gastesi becoming Marathon’s City Manager, and Hernstadt taking over the top job in the county government. If agreed to by the two men, the job swap was to have been effective April 1, 2010.
Sources close to both men, and who declined to comment on the record, told the Weekly that Gastesi and Hernstadt, along with a few close aides and top officials, have held secret discussions about just such a job swap. These discussions were overheard mostly at the Marathon Community Park, with one notable discussion taking place behind the fish booth at the recent Marathon Seafood Festival.
One unnamed source, who spoke with a thick Eastern European accent, told the Weekly, “Gastesi and Hernstadt are like moose and squirrel, always talking. They were comparing jobs like fishermen compare their rods, and talking about which one had the better set of bosses. Then, they said, ‘What would it be like if we just traded jobs?’ That’s when I knew something was up.”
When it comes to their “sets of bosses,” both the Marathon City Council and the Monroe County Commission were totally unaware of any such potential job swap. While no City Council Member or County Commissioner would actually give this story any credence by commenting on the record, it was clear that neither group of officials had any knowledge of the potential switch. Under normal circumstances, managers and administrators work directly for their governing boards, and the City Council and County Commission would have to approve any job swap.
One Marathon city staff member, who declined to speak on the record, offered this observation: “You get a new City Manager, get a new boss. Then Bingo! Bango! Presto! Change-o! He’s gone, and you get another new boss? That’s not the way it’s supposed to work around here!”
It was rumored that Gastesi wanted to bring his public works and sewer experience to bear in a town that actually had a sewer project under construction, and that’s why he was interested in Marathon. It remains unclear why Hernstadt would be interested in the top job in Monroe County government.
Our source with the Eastern European accent told us, “Perhaps the easiest way to see what happens is to go to City Hall and County offices and see who’s in the office. Is it Moose or Squirrel?”