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Council extends city manager’s contract for 1 year

By Staff | Apr 7, 2009

Cape Coral City Manager Terry Stewart’s contract was extended one year Monday, but the vote by city council members was far from unanimous.
In a 5-3 tally, council members extended the current contract, which was due to expire Feb. 24, 2010, to Feb. 24, 2011.
Councilmember Pete Brandt had perhaps the harshest evaluation of Stewart’s performance, accusing him of favoritism.
“There’s certainly people that are the favorites of the administration,” he said during an interview. “If you’re not part of the in-crowd, you don’t get anywhere.
“That’s not a good way to run a business,” Brandt added.
Councilmembers Eric Grill and Bill Deile joined Brandt in voting against Stewart’s contract extension, with Grill handing Stewart a “needs improvement” evaluation and Deile assessing Stewart did a “satisfactory” job.
Other council members’ evaluations ranged from “satisfactory” to “high performing.”
Councilmember Tim Day took issue with the notion of Stewart running the city like a business in light of the troubles being experienced by the financial and auto industries.
“Like AIG and Citibank and some of these other corporations, if Mr. Stewart did anything like some of these other corporations, (the public) would string him up by Big John’s parking lot and hang him,” he said.
In a switch from his vote last year against extending Stewart’s contract, Mayor Jim Burch voted in favor of it Monday.
“I have dealt with Mr. Stewart on many, many occasions. After being with him all this time I can tell you this — there are many things we don’t agree on, and there are many things we do agree on. He’s always there when I call him,” he said.
Stewart’s contract calls for a decision to be made on whether to extend it six months in advance of the expiration.
Last year, council members waited until August to make a final decision in order to see the preliminary budget Stewart submitted. Council also voted 5-3 that time to renew his contract for one year.
One Cape citizen suggested that council members wait for Stewart’s budget performance again this year before making a decision.
“I would like to delay his evaluation if at all possible,” resident Jim Martin said, adding that he would like to see Stewart return a budget with this year’s numbers.
However, council members were ready to vote Monday.
“This is a council that pushes things off until somebody can make a decision for them,” Councilmember Dolores Bertolini said.
Before voting in favor of the extension, Bertolini asked Stewart to forego the 2 percent raise called for in his contract, given the city’s financial constraints.
“Absolutely. Given the fact that other employees have not gotten a raise it would be improper for me to get one,” he said.