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Beach manager to appeal termination

By Staff | Jun 10, 2016

Terminated Fort Myers Beach manager Don Stilwell is contesting Town Council’s 3-2 decision to fire him “with cause.”

Attorney George Knott filed an appeal for a reconsideration hearing on Stilwell’s behalf Tuesday, saying that Stilwell was not given due process as provided in the Constitution; that Mayor Dennis Boback had alleged nonfeasance without providing evidence to justify the termination; and that the firing was the end result of “political machinations.”

Knott and Stilwell did not comment, as this is pending litigation.

The letter states Stilwell has a right to continue his employment that is protected by the right to due process, which means the mayor would have to explain what, exactly, Stilwell did wrong.

“Mr. Stilwell is likewise entitled to an explanation of what evidence the Town of Fort Myers Beach possesses to justify the allegation of nonfeasance with regard to his obligations as Town Manager,” the letter states.

“there is simply no evidence to justify a ‘for cause’ terminationMr. Stilwell has served the Town of Fort Myers Beach admirably. As was denoted by the citizens who spoke at the special meeting,” the letter continued.

The letter states there were no write-ups in his file, no annual review performed, and no serious issues discovered in regard to audits on the town’s finances.

It also claimed the firing was done for political reasons.

“It appears the action taken by the Town Council is the end product of the political machinations of certain Council Members wishing to make good their campaign promises made during the election season,” the letter said. “This fact places a cloud upon the Town Council’s ability to provide Mr. Stilwell with a fair hearing.”

The town council voted 3-2 on June 3 to terminate Stilwell. Boback said Stilwell had made too many mistakes and was under scrutiny lately for the town’s failure to pay for the past six months the $3.2 million in bills related to its ongoing water rehabilitation project.

Boback referred to the town charter, Section 6.03, subsection b,d and g, for his reasons for termination.

They were lost in the shuffle between the public works and finance departments, Stilwell’s employees told Boback.

“It’s never fun to fire anybody. I felt we weren’t getting the oversight a town manager should be doing,” Boback said Monday. “The town manager should know everything that’s happening in town, and he wasn’t, in my opinion, providing the oversight in guiding us in the right direction.”

Jim Steele was named interim town manager, the ninth for the town since 2005. Stilwell had seven days to appeal, which he exercised.