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New King consultant threatens lawsuit against councilman, city

By Staff | Sep 2, 2010

A week after being hired by City Manager Gary King to examine the city’s fleet, Bill Towler may sue both the city of Cape Coral and Councilmember Marty McClain for “tortious interference of contractual obligations.”
In a memo to McClain from Towler dated Sept. 2, Towler wrote that he was targeted by McClain “with personal attacks published through interviews with the news media regarding my employment with the city of Cape Coral, and as a result I have suffered damage and injury to myself and my family.”
Towler also wrote, “I intend to seek employment after my current employment agreement expires. I will be seeking damages from you and the city of Cape Coral for any tortious interference of contractual obligations.”
Towler declined comment on the the letter when reached by phone Thursday.
City Spokeswoman Connie Barron said it was a personal issue between Towler and McClain, and King could not offer comment.
King recently hired Towler and CRA Board Member Jim Martin as Organization Effectiveness Program consultants, two positions that the new city manager created.
Towler has been charged with examining the city’s street fleet due to a background in auto insurance. And Martin was charged with examining the Public Works Department because of a background as an executive with Rockwell International, a aircraft manufacturer and defense contractor, according to King.
Towler started last week. Martin signed his contract Tuesday. It could not be immediately determined if his background check was completed, or when his start date will be.
McClain said Thursday he in no way interfered with Towler’s contract, as the contract and salary are already in place.
McClain also said that he has not attacked Towler, merely pointed out that the two consultant positions were created by King without city council’s knowledge.
“I’m not challenging him (Towler), there is no challenge to him,” McClain said. “What I’m challenging is the process, how these two positions were created without council knowing anything about it.”
Mayor John Sullivan called the issue “sticky,” and said that McClain should not have attacked Towler on local TV news.
Sullivan said he felt the letter is Towler’s attempt to simply warn McClain, and that he doesn’t intend to seek damages. He said Towler is trying to tell McClain to use some common sense.
“He may take legal action, that’s what it sounded like to me,” Sullivan said.
Towler’s hiring was an effort to save the city money, Sullivan added, and he doesn’t understand why there’s been any objection to the hiring.
“Towler certainly has the background,” Sullivan said.