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FMB Town Council elects interim manager

By Staff | Jul 22, 2009

The Fort Myers Beach Town Council unanimously appointed Public Works Director Jack Green as interim town manager Wednesday night.
The Town Council voted 5-0 to have Green temporarily assume the position that came vacant Tuesday night when the board held an emergency meeting and fired manager Scott Janke without cause.
Mayor Larry Kiker had called Tuesday’s emergency meeting after receiving media inquiries concerning Janke’s wife, who is, according to a report posted on AINews, an adult industry Web site, involved in the adult entertainment business.
“In my mind, there was two issues,” Kiker said. “There was the actual issue that was presented to us yesterday. There was also the situation that was presented to this town. We make no judgement calls for what Mrs. Janke did nor did we have that discussion. The discussion surrounded around the fact that this town now has been put in a situation that we have to deal with.”
Kiker echoed the sentiment of the four council members who agreed that the termination was best for the town’s interest. Each council person weighed in with their reasons after three similar questions were asked
during public comment as to why Janke was held responsible for his wife’s actions and why was it done in an emergency fashion.
“In my opinion, I believe that the town council acted in the best interest of the town, its citizens and its staff,” said Councilman Tom Babcock. “I think it’s really based on the fact that the town is facing many challenges that, really, we do not need any disruptions from its focus. I think it needs to be realized that when you become a public figure, you’re held to a different level of scrutiny and ethics. We bill ourselves as a family friendly island, and we want to promote that kind of environment for our community.”
Council members Jo List and Bob Raymond each said the decision to terminate had nothing to do with what Mrs. Janke does for a living, while Vice Mayor Herb Acken called for an action to move forward.
Kiker said the media blitz affected his whole day with eight interviews conducted in town hall’s council chambers; 12 phone interviews; and six radio interviews. He said it was not only awkward for the council but “terribly uncomfortable” to have such a discussion to begin with.
“I had the privilege of working with Mr. Janke and consider him a friend, I still do,” Kiker said.
The Beach mayor said the council had three options last night and decided to terminate “without cause.” The contract calls for six months severance pay, plus health benefits, with the details to be worked out between Kiker and Town Attorney Anne Dalton before the weekend. Six months pay is approximately $50,000.
The town council then discussed short-term solutions before deciding on Green to act as interim and third-in-command Evelyn Wicks, the Town’s director of Finance, to be his second-in command. No time limit was set for Green’s tenure.
Meanwhile, Janke is talking things over with family members as he decides what to do in the wake of the unexpected termination.
“At this point I don’t have a reaction,” said Janke in a phone interview early Wednesday. “My wife and I are talking and we will figure these things out.”