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Here’s The Scoop … LBTS April 16th 2010 Round Table/ April 20, 2010 Special Meeting … Does Hallmark Make A Card For “Happy Termination”?…

APRIL 20, 2010…. THE SECOND FIDDLE CASE WILL BE CLOSED ….

“Acting Town Manger Colon stated that she was tired of sitting second fiddle to everyone. She said that either she’s the Town Manager or she’s going back to Finance.”…April 24, 2007 ….

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Dear Readers … Does Hallmark make a card to congratulate someone on their termination?…If not they should and we should send one to Town Manager Esther Colon…After all, if this writer is correct after watching the April 16, 2010 Round Table where the Town Attorney advised the Commission they needed to make a decision to either renegotiate the Town Manager’s contract or part ways due to her contract containing “no cause” is required to terminate the contract  (although in this writer’s opinion you could pick a day that ends with “Y” and find cause)… this Commission will give Town Manager her “marching orders”…and her “2nd fiddle ” case will be closed  for good!… Any doubts on their minds on which scenario offered up by Town Atty. Trevarthen surely disintegrated with the comments and third person remarks and declarations made yet again by Colon herself who showed up unexpectedly at the last minute to join them after she had claimed prior she had a doctor’s appointment that could she could not miss…Guess she could after all…Town Manager Colon knew this item was on the Round Table when she made her remark prior due to receiving the agenda item from Vice Mayor Dodd on Mon. March 29th first thing in the morning…or whenever the IT service was fixed that day ..as it was one when the system was down… including the 18 minute first attempt at the Round Table that morning (prev. post)…

Item 2c. was the item put on to discuss an RFP for a new Town Manager by Vice Mayor Dodd… and he put it on to discuss as was the agreed upon method of  anything needing lengthy discussion per the organizational meeting by this new commission… VM Dodd started the discussion…”We as a commission have inherited this from the previous elected representatives. I also feel let down by the previous Town attorney who knew he would probably be collateral damage when the election came around.” …He said correctly that the previous commission to his term were all falling over themselves to elect Esther Colon the to the position of Town manager….going on to state …” The result is that we as a commission are faced with the problem of putting the situation in order. Any official should have a realistic contract that has performance clauses, terms and conditions of employment, review dates as well as realistic compensation for early termination. I do not feel anyone should be rewarded with a full year’s salary after only two years in the job and no-one should have a contract that does not require some level of time parameters where a newly elected commission can terminate the manager without incurring ridiculous penalties. I put this on the agenda to start the process to correct the contract mistakes from the previous commission and seek the town attorney’s help. We find ourselves with several problems as to how to proceed.”…He asked for input from the other Commissioners and stated he had 4 questions as well…Commissioner Sasser wanted to the Vice Mayor to explain his “motivation” and without missing a beat Vice Mayor Dodd repeated and said it was the lack of the proper contract, the compensation never going  out to bid and that should be normal procedure…Comm. Sasser this “onerous contract” needed to be addressed ..He went on to ask the question that has been on many peoples minds, especially this writer who has had a copy of this contract for quite some time (prev. posts)… if our current Town Attorneys had any conflict in advising the commission with any input prior to taking the job when the Town Manager was hired or since… Atty. Trevarthen replied to what the Town law firm’s role was..to represent the Town …work closely with the Town and advise the Town not the Town Manager…She said they were not employed by the Town at the time of the Town Manager’s contract and there was no conflict …This writer still is not sure if any input was done by the firm prior to …based on this response…I was also taken aback to see on my computer that later during the break the Town Manager was in what appeared to be deep discussion with the Town Atty. at the table and later learned from a resident in the hall the Town Manager was overheard speaking about the item being “harassment”…a word used first by Comm. Clottey on the item and then by the manager herself…We hear she added that she was “harassed” by this blog…Hmmm….I do feel if this is accurate …especially after the Town Atty response to Comm. Sasser the Town Atty. should have walked away of stopped the discussion with the Town Manager who had commented that she would appear and speak with her own counsel at any further  meetings after this one… The Tow Atty went on to discuss the RFP as put on by VM Dodd and said she found it unusual and went on to explain most other municipalities use the RFP process to find the companies who provide “headhunters” to assist in finding the Town Managers…(Pompano beach used a company a few years back that cost roughly $20,000 ….[prev. post]….not the $100,000 price tag thrown out by Comm. Clottey at this meeting …Ms. Trevarthen also made it clear at this point in the discussion that the commission needed to decide if it was to continue with this manager and not…to replace her or was it the contract the commission was “unhappy with” …She stated it was a valid contract …needs to be honored…and they can terminate or renegotiate it…Comm. Sasser asked more pointed questions  and Atty. Trevarthen responded that there could be changes made to a contract or if advised the firm could solicit candidates to select and search the right “fit” for the Town… Comm. Sasser covering all the bases wanted to make sure we were not in any jeopardy going down this path …Trevarthen answered if the intent was to move on…move on …and if it was contract change the manager could accept it or not…After some more back and forth with Comm. Sasser it was Comm. Vincent’s turn and he said he had the duty to review this contract as he had for all contracts …He said in his review he zoned in on the lack of a term included as is the case for most contracts …3 years seemed to be in line…and the clause for the payout…He added the Town Manager could apply again…The Atty. did not feel comfortable being “asked to speculate”..and went on to agree it is normal to have a term…and again it was not “normal” to have an RFP for finding the Town Manager…she added this contract predated the services their firm offered the Town and it would be them who would draw up the Town Manager contract if the commission goes for a new contract ….either with this Town Manager or a new one…Comm. Clottey said she was “a little uneasy” …and it was she who was the first commissioner to say “fired”…She stated you don’t put out an RFP while the person is sitting there for their position…(Really?..Can you say Scott Gooding/Alex Stevenson etc…)…Clottey spoke of her experience with hired executives and then through out her gloom and doom scenarios about the cost being $100,000 for the headhunter ..(may be some in that price range…but certainly  not applicable for this search)….She then went on to say this was an attempt to try and get Colon to resign…and that is could be pursued by the Town Manager as “harassment”…and the Town could incur legal fees if there was a judgment to the Town…Whoa…Give me a break…Discussion is not harassment…the Town Atty. read the portion of the Town Manager’s contract that states no cause required and what she is entitled to…If fired she gets one years severance..2 pensions…and left over compensation for accrued unused sick/vacation time as Town Manager and Finance Director…Clottey clueless as ever asked who paid the legal fees if the manager sued…The Town Atty. said the Town could be on the hook for them if the Town Manager was successful…But how could she be?… Her contract as read said the commission could terminate for no cause!… It is up to this Town Manager what she wants on her resume …that she was terminated or that she resigned…both come with a “cost”…to her…as well as to the Town…But this was the contract she wanted…and coveted for the past almost 3 years (..it was not the first contract she wanted though…more on that below)…. Comm. Sasser tried to tie it all together once again with repeating the directions available to the commission to go forward…The Mayor said this was not personal …it was an inherited contract …the commission has a fiduciary responsibility…and a decision to make…Vice Mayor Dodd hot down Comm. Clottey and informed her that it was his opinion that Town Manager could only sue if her contract was reneged on…that this item was put on to be in the sunshine and be transparent…He asked the Town Atty. if the contract was “watertight”…in the background the Town Manager could be heard to say “Jesus”…The Atty. still answered what was seen in most contracts and spoke of cause and performance clauses not in this one and again said it was a contract accepted by 5 commissioners and the Town Manager …if asked though and desired the Town law firm would go “down that path” and tear it apart and review it…On an informational level Trevarthen said there was “no clear easy way to not pay”…the formal analysis was to respect the contract…In other words if you terminate Colon you have to pay the severance…period!…Comm. Vincent stated the contract did not contain any renegotiation clause …Trevarthen said “every contract can always be renegotiated regardless of a “pre-arranged date”.. It’s a “principal of law”..Comm. Vincent again asked about not having a term and strangely in this writer’s opinion Atty. Trevarthen stated that a no term contract could give you more “flexibility” than a 3 year term…HUH?…If the clause is still contained that the manager serves at the “pleasure of the commission”…why would that make it less flexible?…Hmmmm….The Mayor spoke up about getting consensus of how the commission wanted to move forward…renegotiate…terminate or status quo…The Mayor followed up with a  call a special meeting after the Atty. said the consensus seemed to be the desire to move on…The Town Manager was asked if she had any comment and this was when she said she would do so when there was a regular meeting through legal counsel…For some reason afterward …the Town Manger felt the need to thank Comms. Clottey, Sasser and Vincent before throwing out the “harassment at best” statement and saying this was “disrespectful”!…She said she was “put on the spot” …”and it’s not the first time”…To this writer she threw down the gauntlet that was not only take by many as a some sort of legal threat..but to go forward and make many statements…accusations and attempts to bait the commission…and especially Vice Mayor Dodd into firing her at this Round Table…Something many watching inside and outside the hall were surely wanting as well!…This new  commission though is not made up of the “hot headed” ilk she was used to in the previous 4 years…and they took the advice of Town counsel…to move it on to the proper forum …a special meeting called for Tuesday April 20, 2010 in Jarvis Hall to make that call!…Clottey though made an attempt to fan the fires (any CIC left to comply?)…reiterating the Town Manager being fired will cost us…Yep…thanks in big part to the Town Manager and the CIC backed former commissioners…Clottey was again called out…this time by the Mayor and Clottey …ever the “eggshell walker” backed down to agree with the Mayor it was not “personal”…and all “understood that”….

Throughout the meeting as the commission moved on to the other items contained in the 3 page agenda the Town Manager mightily tried to throw stones to get a rise out of  our elected officials…as she spoke of herself in the 3rd person stating she will not go to scanning memos as long as she is in charge…unsuccessfully throwing the Town Atty. under the bus by stating the Town Attys had indeed reviewed the El Mar Drive contract with Ocampo (asked about by Comm. Sasser)…only to have Atty. Trevarthen throw it back at her in saying there was no requirement of atty. review and a look at the Ocampo contract ..(prev. post)…signed by Asst. Olinzock (how many other questionable contracts are signed by the Asst. TM?)…does not contain the firm’s initials or signature…OOPS!… Town Manager blew it again on the CCNA when that too was put back in the Town Atty’s lap to look into by VM Dodd…(prev. post)…and again when the Town Manager instead of following the direction of the majority of the commission to honor the budgeted funds allotted and voted on to the Chamber …She was double “hammered” by Comm. Vincent who was relentless in his questioning her sudden lack of “recall” on a contract the year prior ..(Hmmmm…perhaps she wanted a redo on her thanking him earlier?)…and by the Mayor who called it like it was on the deplorable way the Manager dealt unilaterally with  the Chamber over the past few years!…Whiplash for sure!…

Summing it all up….after the meeting on the 16th…there can be no doubt that this Town Manager …unless she resigns prior to the meeting or before the commissioner motion and vote…will be terminated… again any hesitation…had to be wiped away from her most recent antics at the Round Table meeting itself…Esther Colon again reiterated she was not going to change and she was not going to do anything being asked for by this new commission to accommodate them in keeping their promises to the overwhelming number of voters who brought them to this dais on March 9th, 2010!… It is a given that with no such resignation…Town Manager Esther Colon will be terminated on April 20, 2010 and will leave service of the the Town of LBTS with that on her resume…but with $$$$ in her pocketbook that offer her instant retirement…

It is this writer’s opinion that at the meeting on April 20, 2010…due to the time constraints of the MPSC coming to the hall at 6:30 with the PBS&J/FDOT said to be in attendance and the new committee meeting for the first time…there should be no public comment…no Town Manager comment…and no cause given for her termination…It is not required as stated by the contract and through the Town Atty’s advice…. Her termination should be effective immediately…and unless her “loyal” Asst. JohnO follows her…(despite the fact that as an “at will” employee and as such he receives no such “golden egg” upon his departure)…the commission will need to decide if they put him in charge or find an interim while the search goes forth for a new Town Manager with a transparent contract…with a salary commensurate with a town this size… and an employee who will move the Town forth under the direction of this new commission under the charter of a commission-manager form of government… It will also tell the taxpayers and the commission once and for all if Town Manager Colon’s “hires” for department head positions were correct or substandard…and perhaps who among them were loyalists…or keeping a record for just this day of termination!…

Last but not least, to all those (whomever they will be?)..who might want to step up to the podium to decry this Town Manger’s contract and her being one of many managers who have a year severance in their contract…This writer has obtained the first contract then-Finance Director-Acting Town Manager Esther Colon wanted …and it was for a 5 year severance!….That contract also included in it a term…and the requirement that Colon belong to the ICMA … http://icma.org/main/sc.asp?t=0 ….It is said the previous Town Atty. said no way to the 5 year severance being asked for……and the contract appears to have been returned to Colon for a more acceptable “in-line” contract to be drawn up…Somehow though…even though she was supposed to contact and give a “heads-up” to that sitting commission…(according to the comments contained on the contract pages)…a few former commissioners say she did not…They are still adamant that they never saw either contract prior to voting her in to the position on May 22, 2007 on purely the say- so that the content included was the same as Baldwin’s agreement ….coming from the Town Manager herself on the dais…Also, there is nothing in the first on that says to take out the ICMA requirement of the contract!… So any sympathy should be held in check for sure… now that this cat is out of the bag…

more to come….

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