In Miami-Dade County, Steve Spratt was always a little shocking. Low-key, competent, respected -- what could be more shocking in a county employee? Spratt was not only thoroughly informed but able to relay that information without lying, obfuscating, or double-talking. He was a budget expert who wasn't afraid to call a scheme a scam. Surely it was too much to ask someone like Spratt to stick around forever. But he did last a remarkable 25 years at county hall before departing in December 2001 to become the Pinellas County administrator (their version of county manager). Now 47 years old, Spratt began his government career in 1976 as a lowly complaint-taker in the Dade County manager's office, eventually moving to budget director and finally to assistant county manager. Known for his directness and impartiality, Spratt did what he had to do, even if it meant recommending the suspension in 1999 of parks director Bill Cutie, who was later indicted in the famous "missing trees" caper, in which the county paid $1.6 million for 4200 palm trees that were never accounted for.