As a deluge fell on Palm Beach County this week, the highest-ranking county official remained on vacation in New York, Gossip Extra has learned.
“Where’s Bob?” became an overused question at the Emergency Operations Center.
Bob is Bob Weisman, the longtime county administrator.
I’m told Weisman left last week for vacation and has decided not to return as hundreds of residents in unincorporated parts of the county as well as Wellington and Royal Palm Beach became Storm Isaac prisoners in their own homes.
I called Weiman’s office minutes ago, as waters still rise in some places, and his executive assistant said she could email him a note but he likely wouldn’t be responding.
The assistant, Teresa Lawrence, said Weisman wouldn’t be back until next Tuesday.
I left a message on his cellphone voice mail but Weisman hasn’t returned the call.
While staffers won’t talk on-the-record, two have told me Weisman is on vacation and opted against helping coordinate the county’s response from West Palm Beach. Emergency operations have been in the hands of Assistant Admininstrator Vince Bonvento.
“I have full confidence in the senior staff,” said County Commissioner Steve Abrams. “Bob has been in touch by telephone. It is more important for elected officials to be reassuring the public than for Bob to do that.”
Residents, meanwhile, have been fuming at what they perceive has been a lack of urgency from the part of rescuers.
Actually, the first calls for help to state and military officials were made Monday morning by State Representative Joe Abruzzo, whose Royal Palm Beach neighborhood has seen unprecedented water levels.
“There are people telling me they saw alligators float by their house,” Abruzzo said. “When I got up on Monday I could tell this would be a historic event. I called the governor’s office, which in turn had military officials call me and activate their plan. I don’t know why the county’s emergency people didn’t do this. You need to ask them.”