Escorted out of the building at 5 pm under armed guard, the long Reign of Error of St. Johns County Administrator MICHAEL DAVID WANCHICK came to an end today, November 19, 2019, also the anniversary of the Gettysburg Address and Vietnam Moratorium march. St. Johns County has been made safe for democracy.
Thanks to County Commission Chair Jeb Smith, Vice Chair Jeremiah Ray Blocker, and Commissioners Henry Dean, James K. Johns and Paul Waldron for firing MICHAEL DAVID WANCHICK, St. Johns County Administrator, 2007-2019. Good riddance.
No thanks to the St. Augustine Record, whose pro-WANCHICK, pro-developer, pro-Establishment coverage knows no bounds and is untetehred to truth.
The Record no longer has an editor, and it shows.
Even when it had a nominal editor, the Record never covered the Roper report or Wnachick's mistreatment of women. Even when given evidence from elected officials, the Record neglects its duty to cover government managers' misfeasance, malfeasance, nonfeasance, waste, fraud, abuse, flummery, dupery and nincompoopery
MICHAEL DAVID WANCHICK has been removed as of 5 pm. He gets severance pay, but then we're done with him.
I've been calling for his firing for years. Then in 2017, I read the Roper report about his mistreatment of women, I knew he had to go. First Commissioners opted not to renew his contract earlier this year. Then they fired him today.
The tedious tyrant is gone, gone with the wind.
Better days are ahead, with a national search for a new County Administrator.
From the St. Augustine Record:
St. Johns County Commission fires county administrator.
Posted Nov 19, 2019 at 3:40 PM
St. Augustine Record
St. Johns County commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to end County Administrator Michael Wanchick’s contract.
The termination was effective at 5 p.m. Tuesday.
“The premise for it was lack of confidence,” Commission Chair Jeb Smith said.
Wanchick declined to comment.
The Commission made several motions related to the change.
As a result, St. Johns County Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller Hunter Conrad will serve as the interim county administrator. To do that, he’ll have to resign as clerk.
Conrad said in a news release from his office: “I do not take this position lightly and cannot do this alone. Therefore, over the coming weeks, I look forward to meeting with and hearing from individuals and families all across St. Johns County.”
Smith will represent the Commission during the transition.
Commissioners recently criticized Wanchick for his handling of the closure of beach access at Mickler’s Landing Beachfront Park for a private construction project.
The public access point is being used to transport materials to 13 beachfront homes to install geotubes along the beach as a protection against erosion and sea level rise.
It’s a private project paid for by the homeowners, but the county has signed an agreement allowing the construction company to use the parking lot for storage and beach access.
Renovations to the public restroom and shower facilities will also take place during construction.
Commissioner Jeremiah Blocker said during a previous meeting that he wouldn’t have agreed to the project if he’d known about the extent of the closure. The county has since adjusted access to the site.
In an interview with The Record on Tuesday, Blocker, who introduced the motion to terminate Wanchick, said there was a “systematic issue of the staff not following” the Commission’s direction.
“We had several instances, Mickler being the most recent and probably the most public, where we specifically voted and directed staff and what we directed was changed substantially,” Blocker said. “I like Mr. Wanchick, I think he’s a great guy. I think he’s a professional.
“But I don’t know if he just lost his effectiveness over time or staff, because he’s a short timer, maybe wasn’t following his direction. But what was obvious was that what guidance was given was not being followed. He’s the employee we hold accountable for that.”
Commissioners had already been critical of Wanchick.
In May, commissioners decided not to renew Wanchick’s contract and later approved a one-year extension to Jan. 1, 2021.
Wanchick has been the county administrator since June 2007. The current contract, which went into effect in January 2017, lists his base salary as about $213,973.
Because the firing isn’t for misconduct, the county owes Wanchick severance pay, according to his contract.
The contract calls for severance pay of 20 weeks of compensation at the current pay rate, payment for accrued and unused vacation and sick leave and continuing insurance coverage for Wanchick and his family for 20 weeks.
Commissioner Henry Dean said he believes Wanchick has been a good county administrator, including leading the county through the Great Recession.
But other commissioners have raised issues in the past year such as not being kept informed on issues, Dean said.
“All that probably led to a sort of tipping point, I’ll call it, with Commissioner Blocker today,” Dean said.
Dean voted for the termination for the sake of unity and harmony on the board, he said.
– Reporters Stuart Korfhage and Christen Kelley contributed to this report.