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Appalling, errant and self-serving acts?

By Staff | Feb 25, 2015

To the editor:

Annual Performance Evaluation of Government Personnel is the foremost measure used by Government Officials such as Elected Officials or Appointed Government Managers i.e. Mayors/City Councils and City Managers to gauge and measure how efficiently, effectively and ethically government personnel have performed their duties and responsibilities.

Florida Public Records Law found in Florida Statutes Chapter 119 provides citizens with the right to request and review a State and Local Government Employee’s Annual Performance Evaluations. The City of Sanibel through its City Manager is charged with conducting Annual Performance Evaluations along with delegating that responsibility to Department Directors i.e. Director of Public Works.

At the March 3, 2015, Sanibel City Council Meeting, the Mayor and City Council have indicated that they will inform the public whether they have conducted or will be conducting Annual Performance Evaluations for the City Manager and City Attorney. They are the two highest paid city employees. The City Manager is paid $189,000.00 in salary and the City Attorney is paid $179,000.00 in salary. Each of them earns over $200,000.00 plus annually in salary and benefits. Their benefits package includes retirement, an automobile allowance of five hundred and fifty dollars a month ($550.00), a housing allowance of two thousand and four hundred dollars a month ($2,400.00) and a medical expense account that the city contributes to for them. Public records reveal that the City Manager and City Attorney each earn more in salary than the state of Florida’s Governor ($130,273.00), Attorney General ($129, 971.76) or Chief Justice of the Supreme Court ($162,000.00).

In conducting research of public records and from e-mails that I received from the Mayor and City Clerk, I discovered that it appears the City Manager has only received one (1) official documented Annual Performance Evaluation since she signed her contract in 2002. That occurred in 2007. To date, there is no evidence in the City Manager’s personnel file that she received a documented Annual Performance Evaluation for any year but 2007, even though her contract requires this each yearly budget cycle. The City Council is required to conduct a formalized public performance evaluation. The City Manager has only been formally evaluated once in the twelve years that she has been employed by the City of Sanibel.

In published reports, the reason given for this omission is that there was not a process in place nor an evaluation form to use for this purpose. I have a hard time buying this explanation which is disingenuous and deceptive. The form used in 2007 by then Mayor Carla Brooks to record the City Manager’s performance evaluation was a City of Sanibel Professional and Managerial Performance Evaluation Form. Clearly, there was a process in place and a form to use.

Additionally, why did the City Manager fail to give notice to the City Council that she was required by her contract to be formally evaluated on an annual basis by the Mayor and City Council? I find the City Manager’s failure to do so to be appalling, errant and self-serving.

Several sources have reported to me that the City Attorney wrote his own contract when he was hired in 2002. His contract was amended in 2007 by the Sanibel City Council which gave him an increases in his salary, and his automobile and housing allowance. He also received retro active pay. There is no language in his contract that calls for an Annual Performance Evaluation or a specified term of employment. There is no evidence in the City Attorney’s personnel file of any documented form of an Annual Performance Evaluation since the time of his employment in 2002.

These questions come to mind:

1. Where does the trail of accountability and responsibility lead to regarding the described appalling, errant and selfish actions?

2. Have the city taxpayers been short changed by having to pay the exorbitant salaries and benefits to the City Manager and City Attorney for work that has not been annually evaluated as to whether they have consistently carried out their prescribed duties and responsibilities in an efficient, effective and ethical manner?

3. Why did it take this City Council over seven years to decide to evaluate their two highest paid city employees? Maybe it’s because of the “Ides of March” coming into play.

Steve Maxwell, Ed.D.