Tuesday, June 27, 2006

New Smyrna city manager put on leave

June 27, 2006

New Smyrna city manager put on leave

Staff Writer

NEW SMYRNA BEACH -- In an abrupt leadership change, City Manager Frank Roberts will relinquish his duties today, while Assistant City Manager John Hagood picks up the reins for the next six months.

At a special meeting Monday afternoon, City Commissioners unanimously voted to put Roberts on administrative paid leave immediately until Sept. 30, followed by six months of severance pay, which is in his contract. Roberts earns $107,494 annually.

Hagood, 55, was appointed as interim city manager for the next six months at Roberts' current pay rate. The commission also agreed to pursue a search, limited to the Central Florida area for new city manager candidates.

The commission decision differed from what Roberts had originally proposed. He said at a June 8 meeting that he wished to retire at the end of December, due to ongoing health problems. But the commission seemed to believe an earlier transition was needed, saying it would cause the least trauma to staff and get Roberts, who has been with the city 20 years, resting at home.

"Mr. Roberts needs to go home," said Vice Mayor Lynne Plaskett. "He needs to be home with his family, he's in pain."

After announcing his impending retirement in May, Roberts, 54, was on leave for about a month, following emergency gall bladder surgery May 12. His main health problems -- which prompted his decision to retire -- involved nerve damage and constant, severe pain resulting from a case of shingles, a viral infection similar to chicken pox, he suffered from several years ago.

Further, Plaskett said in a letter the city manager sent to commissioners, he mentioned his plans to leave would "enable an orderly process with minimal trauma to an agency that is under significant trauma already." The reference to trauma at the city troubled her, she said, and she wanted to minimize the uncertainty at the city.

Commissioner Jack Grasty said the reference to "trauma" at the city also bothered him.

Roberts simply said "the turmoil that's out there is predicated on a number of reasons."

As for his retirement notification, Roberts said he gave the city plenty of advance notice, "because I felt it was the professional thing to do."

He wanted to leave at the end of year to resolve personal family matters that needed some extra time to wrap up. If he had known the commission would have reacted this way, he'd have done things differently, he said.

"I would think after 20 years, I would at least get that consideration," Roberts said. "But if not, I think I at least did what I thought was right."

City Commissioner Jim Hathaway asked if Roberts would be willing to stay on until year's end as a consultant if the city needed him. Roberts said the city is his home and he would help however he could. The commission also agreed to let him keep a city computer at his home.

Then, Grasty made the motion to put Roberts on leave, Plaskett seconded it and the vote was unanimous. Roberts left at the end of the meeting, choosing not to stay for the subsequent special commission meeting.


Monday, June 05, 2006


Sir Winston Spencer Churchill said in the 1930s about another political Establishment, "They go on in strange paradox, decided only to be undecided, resolved to be irresolute, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity, all powerful to be impotent. The era of procrastination, of half-measures, of soothing and baffling expedients, of delays, is coming to a close. In its place, we are entering a period of consequences."

A City whose economy is based on history must no longer destroy its history.

A City whose economy is based on the beach, surfing, sailing and environmental tourism must no longer destroy its environment.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

City Managers Gone Wild -- Dumping Illegally in Old City Reservoir Even After Criminal Investigators Arrive!

To see what secrecy causes, please see 38 FDEP photos of our City's illegal dumping in the Old City Reservoir: http://forums.staugustine.com/cgi-bin/bb/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=2;t=205126

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Reagan Wanted Inspectors General "Meaner Than a Junkyard Dog" -- St. Augustine Has Only Lapdogs, While Wasting Public Money

One Commissioner publicly asked if I was willing to pay for an Inspector General. We're all paying already for not having one. One Commissioner privately said it was unfriendly to have an IG in a small town.
It's "unfriendly" to have a City budget grow 35% in five years while our small town's population only grows 3%, expecting taxpayers to believe that because there has been no increase in our "millage rate," City Commissioners are somehow doing us all a favor.
What principled reasons exist for this rapidly rising and bloated budget?
Why is there not more competitive bidding?
Why is there not Zero Based Budgeting?
Why is there not openness and transparency, starting with publishing all City agenda packet documents on the City's website (as our Countyand Water Management Districts do)?
Does our City have something to hide?
Is it ashamed of the shallow reports provided to City Commissioners?
Is it unable to articulate defenses and answer questions formed after reading its agenda packet?
Our City government is gold plated, lacking in openness and accountability, and lacking in compassion.
There is no whistleblower protection.
There are no watchdogs, only lapdogs.
That's why we need an independent Inspector General, to audit and investigate.
No more white elephants.
No more junkets.
The St. Johns River Water Management District has an Inspector General (IG).
The State of Florida's agencies have IGs.
Federal agencies have IGs.
President Ronald Reagan said he wanted IGs "meaner than a junkyard dog."
He recognized that governments grow fat and lazy without auditors and investigators.
We have no "junkyard dog" in our City government.
Our five City Comissioners are lapdogs.
Only lapdogs would vote unanimously to give a heck-of-a-job award to the City Manager in the midst of a pending criminal investigation.
Only lapdogs would refuse to provide annual performance evaluations for the City Manager.
Only lapdogs would attack and censor people asking questions about the City Manager's 20,000 cubic yards of illegal dumping in the Old City Reservoir, without answering questgions.
Every single City Commissioner ran as a reformer.How many of them deserve that title now? None? What do you reckon?

Thursday, June 01, 2006

St. Augustine Whistleblower Protection Ordinance

In the wake of Ceballos v. Garcetti, we need a City whistleblower ordinance to protect the right of City employees to protect us against waste, fraud, abuse, misfeasance, malfeasance, nonfeasance, pollution, civil rights violations and mismanagement. Our City has a $45 million annual budget. Our City government put 20,000 cubic yards of contaminants in the Old City Reservoir. In the midst of a pending criminal investigation, our City Commissioners voted 5-0 back in March to express their undying confidence in City Manager WILLIAM B. HARRISS. What message does that send to City employees who are interviewed by FDEP investigators? Lets see our City Commissioners vote up or down on a whistleblower protection ordinance.