DIB Executive Director Fired

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Ron Thomasson is unaccustomed to spending a weekday at home, but that's where he was Thursday, trying to make sense of what happened to him the night before.

Downtown Improvement Board members fired Thomasson just six weeks after they hired him as executive director.

Thomasson says he got caught in a power play created by money and how it's distributed to Community Redevelopment Areas, or CRAs.

"Some CRA neighbors want to give input to this board and feel like they've been left out. When I came on, Mr. Hicks said sweep it under the rug essentially until after elections. My answer was that's a board policy call. I can't implicate something without the board's approval. It upset him quite a bit and led to my termination," says Ron Thomasson.

Newspaper reports quote DIB board chairman Dwight Hicks as saying Thomasson's termination had nothing to do with CRAs, but about management issues.

Hicks refused our request for an interview, but DIB staff member Debbie Glick seems to support Hicks. She wrote a letter stating Hicks and other board members did not micromanage Thomasson.

Glick contends the board provided encouragement, but Thomasson did not receive it very well. Thomasson says with four staff members let go in less than six months, something is amiss. He says that something is a power struggle within the organization.

"Anyone in Panama City realizes there's a great deal more to it than just personality issues and allegations. It goes to the heart of who is going to be in control of large sums of money from the CRAs and who will be in control of what it's spent on," says Thomasson.

Glick is now the interim executive director. She says the DIB is moving on.

"We have a stable staff. We can carry the load. We're excited and looking forward to the future," says Debbie Glick.

The DIB now plans to conduct a lengthy search for a new executive director.