Madeira Beach Commission Accepts Resignations, Agrees to Payout for City Manager, Clerk
By ANNE LINDBERG, TB Reporter
In a 3-2 vote, the commission agreed to pay the two a total of about $126,000. Both will act as temporary consultants for the city.
MADEIRA BEACH – A split commission voted Monday (June 19) to accept the resignations of Madeira Beach’s city manager and city clerk.
By voting to accept the resignations, the five commissioners agreed to the terms in four agreements that had been negotiated by city attorney Tom Trask, who has resigned his post, and Jay Hebert, who represented Shane and Cheryl Crawford, the former city manager and clerk. Under the terms of the agreements, the Crawfords will receive about $126,000 before taxes in pay and benefits and would be kept on as short-term consultants while the city adjusts to recent changes.
The 3-2 decision came toward the end of a contentious meeting during which some residents hurled insults at three recently elected commissioners and those who voted them into office.
“I think we would be better off if Larry, Curly and Moe were running this city, or maybe they are,” Robert Shaw said. Shaw told recently elected Mayor Maggi Black and council members Nancy Oakley and John Douthirt that their election in March was not a mandate but was the result of a “cadre” of voters who were “motivated by selfish interests.”
Others said the new commissioners are on track.
“I think Shane should go,” Debbie Weinstein said. Crawford and the former commission “created chaos for the silent majority and an Eden for the few. … I believe his misdeeds … will haunt us for years to come.”
The emotion-packed meeting was the latest round in a war that has consumed this city for more than a year. The dispute began over two proposed developments on the island side of the Madeira Beach causeway bridge, the city’s direct link to the mainland.Opponents charged that at least one of the initial deals was done behind closed doors and that both were too intense and too large for the location.
The dispute became increasingly nasty as ethics complaints and lawsuits were filed – many of which are still working their way through the system. Shane Crawford was censured and expelled from the International City/County Management Association because he had been involved in a personal relationship with a staff member – Cheryl McGrady, his personal assistant, who was promoted to city clerk and who is now married to him. The relationship had the approval of the commission.
At one point, the opponents presented a petition with 1,025 signatures asking for a referendum on the proposed developments. [Madeira Beach has 4,332 residents, according to a 2014 census figure.] On Trask’s recommendation, the city disallowed all but 84 of the signatures, and the commission voted last summer to go ahead with the developments.
In March, voters responded by electing Black with about 55.5 percent of the vote; Oakley with about 60.5 percent; and Douthirt with about 55.2 percent.
In the past few months, the city has lost a finance director and a city clerk (who was replaced by Mrs. Crawford). Mrs. Crawford also resigned in May. The commission suspended Crawford. And this past week, the interim city clerk handed in his resignation.
Trask, the outgoing city attorney, and Hebert, the Crawfords’ attorney, spent the past few weeks hammering out the settlement agreements.
“The Crawfords are done” with the city and the new council members, Hebert said. “They’re sick to their stomachs.”
Hebert said he believes the commission knows why the Crawfords want nothing more to do with the Madeira Beach government: “It is toxic and it’s time to be over,”
Signing the agreements, he said, is the way for the commission to avoid lawsuits. Crawford’s “damages are building,” he said.
The agreement gives Crawford 20 weeks’ severance pay – the amount allowed under his contract and the maximum allowed by state law. A separate agreement gives him four additional weeks’ salary for being a “consultant” should the commission or city staff need advice.
The consulting agreement, Trask said, is a way to avoid the 20-week cap on city manager severance imposed by state law.
“I think this is an excellent way to settle this matter now,” Trask said. “It’s a creative way to get the case resolved without violating the statute.”
Trask advised them to take the deal. Mrs. Crawford will also be held on as a consultant for 18 weeks, but there is no statute limiting payouts to city clerks.
Lister said he, too, would like to extend the time, but thought it could be done in 30 days when the city government is “still falling apart.”
“I’d love to see him come back,” Lister added.
Black, the mayor, said she understood Trask’s advice and the threat of lawsuits. But, she said, her conscience would not allow her to vote in favor of the settlements. Oakley also voted against them. Douthirt, Lister and Hodges voted in favor.
Shane Crawford has seven days to back out of the deal.
For information about Madeira Beach, go to madeirabeachfl.gov.
Main Photo shows Former Madeira Beach attorney Tom Trask and Interim City Attorney Erica Augello working out details of severance agreements with attorney Jay Hebert and former City Manager Shane Crawford during a break in Monday’s (June 19) special commission meeting. Meeting Photos By Anne Lindberg, TB Reporter
Madeira Beach | Shane Crawford | Cheryl Crawford | Tom Trask | Jay Hebert | Maggi Black | Terry Lister | John Douthirt | Nancy Oakley | Nancy Hodges | Tampa Bay News | TB Reporter
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