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FMB elects interim town manager after firing

By Staff | Jul 23, 2009

The Fort Myers Beach Town Council unanimously appointed Public Works Director Jack Green as interim town manager Wednesday night.
The council voted 5-0 to have Green temporarily assume the position that became vacant Tuesday, when the board held an emergency meeting and fired Town Manager Scott Janke “without cause.”
Mayor Larry Kiker called Tuesday’s meeting after receiving media inquiries concerning Janke’s wife, who is, according to a report posted on the adult industry Web site AINews, involved in the adult entertainment business.
“In my mind, there was two issues,” Kiker said Wednesday. “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,” he said. “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 Janke’s termination was best for the town’s interest.
Each council member weighed in at Wednesday’s meeting on supporting the termination after questions were asked during public comment as to why Janke was held responsible for his wife’s actions and why the decision was made 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,” he said. “We bill ourselves as a family friendly island, and we want to promote that kind of environment for our community.”
Councilwoman Jo List and Councilman Bob Raymond said the decision had nothing to do with what Janke’s wife does for a living, while Vice Mayor Herb Acken called for an action to move forward.
Kiker said he conducted eight interviews in town hall’s council chambers, 12 telephone interviews and six radio interviews Wednesday because of the media blitz.
He said it is not only awkward for the council but “terribly uncomfortable” to have such a discussion.
“I had the privilege of working with Mr. Janke and consider him a friend. I still do,” Kiker said.
The mayor said the council had three options Tuesday and decided on termination “without cause.”
The contract calls for six months of severance pay, approximately $50,000, plus health benefits. The details will be worked out between Kiker and Town Attorney Anne Dalton before the weekend.
The council discussed short-term solutions Wednesday before deciding on Green to act as interim town manger. Evelyn Wicks, director of finance, will serve as Green’s second in command.
No time limit was set for Green’s tenure.
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,” he said in a phone interview early Wednesday. “My wife and I are talking, and we will figure these things out.”