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Suspension of city manager proposed

By Staff | Nov 29, 2011

Council man Kevin McGrail called for removing City Manager Gary King and suspending him for 45 days but the issue was dropped in favor of a public discussion process to begin next Monday.

That hearing will address a list of alleged violations that citizens have levied against the city manager, including violating the International City Manager’s Association’s code of ethics to which he must abide, according to the terms of his contract.

It was part of a meeting-long focus on King’s job performance, actions as a public figure, and alleged verbal battles with a handful of citizens.

Speakers both praised and condemned King, going as far as to call for his job. Meanwhile, some on council, including McGrail, wondered if King should still be employed with the city.

McGrail said King was both a bully and not trustworthy, and called for his removal, in part, after King got into an argument with a resident following last Monday’s meeting outside of city hall.

McGrail withdrew his motion to craft a resolution to remove King, but not before he heaped some harsh words on the city’s chief executive officer.

“It boils down to trust and right now I don’t trust my city manager,” McGrail said. “I need to be able to trust him.”

King said he’s never attempted to deceive council or attack citizens, employees or speakers who use public comment as a vehicle to voice their concerns.

King said the confrontation last Monday with a citizen stemmed from a Cape Coral police officer who falsified his educational background and recently stepped down from his job.

King said the citizen took issue with his desire to see that police officer be held accountable for his actions.

“I am not inclined to look another way I felt this person needed to be held accountable,” the city manager said of the records issue.

King also addressed employee morale, adding that he never laid anyone off nor did he put a gag order on employees forbidding them talk with the public or council members as some have alleged.

“There absolutely now or never has been a gag order,” King said. “People make statements and they become fact.”

Mayor John Sullivan suggested an outside, independent third party, maybe a law firm, should be hired to look into the complaints against King.

“This shouldn’t be done spur of the moment and it shouldn’t be a knee jerk reaction,” Sullivan added.

New Councilmember John Carioscia said King shouted him down during a campaign stop after he called King’s professional history into question.

He said King erupted into a shouting match that failed his position as a non-political public figure.

“I, too, have witnessed the city manager out of control,” Carioscia said.

King disagreed, saying that Carioscia attacked his background and called him a manager at McDonald’s.

“I made no political statements whatsoever, either for or against him,” King said of Carioscia.

McGrail said the city manager needs to stay away from the political arena as the city’s top administrator.

“A professional city manager should distance himself from politics. He’s been up to his eyeballs in it since he got the job,” McGrail said.

Councilmember Chris Chulakes-Leetz called the controversy surrounding the city manager a circus, and called McGrail’s motion an embarrassment.

“If we move forward with this we’re going to put our city in a major negative light and leave ourselves without the responsible leadership we have,” he said.

Gary King’s performance and actions will be the subject of a discussion item next Monday. If council agrees there is cause, a vote to remove King for 45 days could be taken in two weeks.