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FMB town manager fired by board in emergency meeting

By Staff | Jul 23, 2009

Fort Myers Beach Town Manager Scott Janke was fired “without cause” at a hastily called emergency meeting of the town council Tuesday night.
Mayor Larry Kiker called the meeting after receiving media inquiries concerning Janke’s wife, who, according to a report posted on the adult industry Web site AINews, is involved in the adult entertainment business.
“I called a meeting with the council and said, ‘We have an issue here,'” Kiker said Wednesday morning.
The town council discussed the options available, per the town attorney, who was present at the emergency meeting.
The board voted 5-0 that Janke be terminated under a contract clause that lets the council dismiss him “without cause” with a severance package.
The amount called for in the contract is six months of salary plus health benefits.
The salary portion of the contract is approximately $50,000, said Kiker, who asked that the meeting be continued Wednesday night to discuss Janke’s temporary replacement.
“If you look at it, the man didn’t do anything illegal,” he said. “But it’s obvious what the issue is.”
Kiker was asked if the council had verified the AINews report.
“Our immediate reaction makes the assessment of the situation obvious,” he said. “I think that that information has been verified.”
Kiker stressed that the council does not believe Janke has done anything illegal or wrong. He said it is the personal situation at issue, specifically, how the situation might affect town management.
“What we’re reacting to is the situation that the issue puts the town in, how effectively can we govern,” Kiker said. “We don’t need any distractions.”
He and members of the town council said they were unaware of Janke’s wife’s adult entertainment industry affiliation.
At least one council member said the lack of knowledge was a consideration in the decision to terminate Janke’s employment.
Fort Myers Beach Town Councilman Bob Raymond, currently on vacation in New Hampshire, said via telephone Wednesday that he wished Janke had informed the council about his wife’s profession.
Months passed between the couple’s marriage in October and the media calls Tuesday.
“I wish we had known something about this before and it was brought to our attention. Anybody who had this (information) should have notified us that there was a possibility of this coming out,” Raymond said. “If, in fact, we would have known about this ahead of time, it would have been a lot simpler for us to try to back him or whatever.
“You can’t just have this come out of the sky,” he said. “I think he owed it to us to tell us about it. It’s a matter of judgement.”
Raymond said the position of town manager requires sound judgement.
“I had a couple of calls this morning with people screaming for what we did,” he said about the firing. “We have to look out for the best interest of the town.”
Raymond has no issue with Janke personally.
“I really like the guy, to be honest with you. That hasn’t changed,” he said. “But we have to look at what are the best interests of the people of the town.”
Janke spent Tuesday and Wednesday morning talking with family members.
“At this point I don’t have a reaction,” he said Wednesday morning of his termination. “My wife and I are talking, and we will figure these things out.”
Janke had no comment on whether his personal life could have affected his ability to perform as town manager as some council members have suggested.

Fort Myers Beach Observer Editor Bob Petcher contributed to this report.