Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Next Tuesday at the Commission Meeting

So when we last left the commission, they decided to postpone discussion of the City Manager's employment until the regular commission meeting, which is coming up next Tuesday, April 13, 2010.

Let's review the essential complaint here. One of the commissioners, George Kane, very specifically instructed Schwartz to stop being involved in the PD, which clearly by the charter reports to him. When the CM refused, Kane introduced a motion to fire him, which died unseconded.

In March, Commissioner Trujillo joined the discussion again warned Schwartz not to take any action on the police. There was no motion.

So then the police chief resigned, voluntarily and amicably. I know that as he told me that and I know Chief Pandolfi as a man of his word. In fact, I think it's pretty nasty of the people claiming to support him to assume he was either bullied into a resignation or being dishonest about his choices. Me, I'm just glad that he is sticking around through the negotiations and the budget cuts. We need the help.

My reason for not firing the CM is pretty clear. The city is going broke. We are down 20% more than expected in tax collection revenue and more cuts are coming. This is the crisis we are facing. Schwartz has led us through it so far and if we let him go now, this could be the one that sinks us.

But it turns out there's even a better reason to keep him. When Commissioners Kane and Trujillo put their threats on the dais, they were breaking the law.

Section 3.06 of the City's Charter provides:

Limitations of powers of the Commission.

All powers of the City and the determination of all matters of policy shall be vested in the Commission with the following limitations:

G. Appointments or removal of city personnel prohibited. Neither the Commission nor any of its members shall in any manner dictate the appointment, retention, or removal of any city employee (other than the City Manager and the City Attorney, as provided herein), or any person who is duly appointed by the city manager, in accordance with
Section 4.0 1(G)(2) of this Charter.


Read it again. The specific complaint that the two commissioners have is that Schwartz did not follow their directions about "the appointment, retention, or removal of any city employee". Now it might seem a little circular here, but firing someone because he did not accept your imposition of an authority you are specifically forbidden to have is illegal.

Alfonso put the item on the commission agenda. I have no clear idea why but it needs to be removed before we once again wind up with FDLE all over the city and we run out of money.

Elections happen Nov 2, 2010. There are 210 days to change the administration if you don't like what's going on.

Kevin Vericker
April 6, 2010

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