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Marco avoids “attempted coup”

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City Council Chairman Bill Trotter and Jose Granda are all smiles after Trotter accepted a 'Give Steve a Chance' button before the council meeting on Monday night. City Manager Steve Thompson's performance review was discussed at the meeting and Thompson's supporters gave out the button. 
Kelly Farrell/Staff

Photo by KELLY FARRELL, Staff

City Council Chairman Bill Trotter and Jose Granda are all smiles after Trotter accepted a "Give Steve a Chance" button before the council meeting on Monday night. City Manager Steve Thompson's performance review was discussed at the meeting and Thompson's supporters gave out the button. Kelly Farrell/Staff

Steven Thompson mingles with the crowd.

Photo by QUENTIN ROUX, Staff

Steven Thompson mingles with the crowd.

— It once again resembled election season outside Marco Island City Hall Monday afternoon as citizen Joe Granda handed out buttons saying “Give Steve a chance” and “I support Steve Thompson.”

Granda said the buttons were made by “concerned citizens” over the weekend when Islanders heard rumors of an attempted “coup” to oust City Manager Steve Thompson upon his six month performance review by City Council.

Thompson’s first day as city manager was May 19.

The handling of Thompson’s six month review was almost as if Thompson were chosen as interim manager rather appointed city manager in May, said resident Joe Haushauer.

The attempted “coup” did not occur Monday although all councilors expressed varying degrees of disappointment that Thompson did not share a transition report written by former interim city manager Dana Souza in May. The transition report included critical questions about city operations particularly allegations of misappropriation of funds and approving spending money and transferring money between departments without city manager or City Council approval.

Souza’s report came at the behest of Thompson, who requested briefs from all department heads.

Neither Souza nor Thompson shared the report, which included allegations that city staff deceived council on several financial matters, with councilors. A decision that Thompson says he regrets.

City Clerk Laura Litzan says a public records request from a resident yielded the transition report, which was disseminated to City Council just prior to their October meeting.

Souza also compiled supporting documents of the transition report in a 164-page book he released following his last day with the city. Souza has since accepted a job in Greenville, S.C. as parks and recreation director. He resigned as Marco’s parks director in October. Following the public release of the transition report, Finance Director Bill Harrison also retired suddenly.

In contrast to the timing and response to the release of these reports, Souza said in early November that he supported Thompson, his interpretation of the report and Thompson’s reaction to the allegations of wrongdoing in the finance department.

Vice Chairman Frank Recker was among the councilors most critical of Thompson’s decision to not share the transition report; allowing them to be blindsided by it.

Recker said he lost all confidence in Thompson, but following Monday’s six month review the councilor said he would be working to “establish trust.”

City Council did not take a formal vote on whether or not to dismiss Thompson, however it became clear that four of the councilors were in favor of giving him time to work and correct some of the problems in city operations that were shared in the transition report.

While many residents wore pins expressing support for the city manager, councilors received several pleas that it was time to get rid of him.

“I personally think the city manager should be terminated for the betterment of the island,” said resident Bill McMullan.

President of the Marco Island Taxpayer’s Association, Fay Biles, also questioned whether Thompson should remain with the city. She thanked Recker for bringing the issues before the people.

Chairman Bill Trotter said the best thing Thompson could do is “err on the side of over communicating.”

Councilman Chuck Kiester said, for the most part, Thompson deserved commendation for communicating more with the public than former city managers such as Bill Moss, however, Kiester was concerned that “council is still kept in the dark about finances.”

Trotter said he plans to work on creating a detailed communication plan.

Thompson said if he could go back in time and do it differently he would. He explained that his reasoning at the time for not publicly discussing the transition report was that he felt it would cause more controversy and concern than he believed was warranted following his internal investigation of the matters.

“All reports even hinting at impropriety should be given to council,” Recker said.

Thompson agreed but said there may be exceptions.

“We have to have an opportunity for more private conversations when people are making allegations. You’re dealing with people’s lives ... I’m not a Pollyanna ... This isn’t the last controversy we’ll have as a city,” Thompson said.

Popoff and Trotter both said they believed all issues and allegations being raised publicly may cause more problems than if they were handled in private before disclosed.

Recker said he didn’t support “the public being kept in the dark.”

While Thompson will remain city manager to the joy of many button-donning residents at Monday’s council meeting, it was still not clear what council wanted him to communicate when and how.

Trotter anticipates communications guidelines will be created in a future council meeting.

© 2008 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 27

happy6 writes:

this council was/is remiss in not establishing guidelines for the mgr...but what's new here..ineptness seems to be the mantra of marco councils.

ejburger writes:

van, you should run for council; you seem to have an answer for everything. You judge everyone...for once, have the guts to put yourself out there...publicly, not anonymously!!

Vincent_Post writes:

I was at the meeting to discuss the noise at the Esplande and had to sit through a very interesting dialog between the councilors. The above article doesn't even come close to what really happened. Councilor Recker started by saying he had no agenda which is laughable as he had a long litany of pointless issues he brought up regarding city manager Steve Thompson. I was impressed with Councilor Popoff as he diplomatically countered all of the points that Recker made. Recker was grasping for straws and Popoff addressed each of his concerns point by point. Recker lost and the city won, thanks to Councilor Popoff. I still don't understand why some people in this community live for controversy. Vincent Post, Proud Snowbird

happy6 writes:

jeeez burger...all i said was the council should have guidelines ...kinda' like a job description...
every heard of that? after the fact is usually too late..i would't blame thompson if he told us to pack sand and moved on.

ejburger writes:

Don't try and play the victim role van, you and I have been friends on the blogs for a long time now. And once again, I agree with you in that council should have given Thompson more direction.

Fact is though, you called the council inept. All I said was run for council if you can do better. Those poor saps get beat up everytime they open their mounths and rarely get complimented when things go well.

happy6 writes:

ej...at least admit that "some" of them are inept...still think thompson was skewered unnecessarily by a "somewhat" inept council...better?

ejburger writes:

Ok van, we're on the same page...sorry for the mis-communication. Thompson was in fact skewered by at least two councilors. I felt that Thompsons defenders were brilliant.

CW writes:

Beowolf, perhaps you should do a little digging before you call our councilors inept. Your comments are inept as they have no merit. Haven't you figured this out yet?? Council and the city manager were protecting the interim city manager. Why should they bring out any improprieties and hurt his future. Everyone at city hall knows what happened when he was interim city manager. Why don't you take a trip to city hall and start asking questions. That is if you have the common decency to admit your s----- little conspiracy theory is complete nonsense.

JohninMarco writes:

CW, put up or shut up!

multi_million_heir writes:

cw, bring it, dont sing it.

CW writes:

Beowulf, JoininMarco and islandman4now...all pitiful, disgraceful, deplorable Ed Foster. Ed, you are a sick man. My better judgment tells me to ignore you because indulging you with a response just empowers your narcissist neurosis.
Ed, you are not a resident of Marco Island. As hard as it may be for you to digest, you failed...you lost. I can’t believe I am wasting my time writing this blog directed at you because you are certain to respond. Ed, you and your friend Bill McMullan are shameless and preposterous…you are the joke that people at cocktail parties laugh at.
You will obviously get the last word on this blog page as after I post this blog I will never return to this site again; I just can’t stomach any more of your delusions. Please Ed, get some professional help.

playballonK writes:

CW, you wreak of John Aceri, or is that the leaky STRP I smell?

happy6 writes:

come on folks..we all have to admit this is a joke..the council hired the guy 7-0....now they want to say oooopppps....what's this about...they need to stand up and take the admonishment and the responsibility.....and fix the problem...and it ain't firing steve...it's giving direction and more than that... setting expectations....
and for CW...you are as demented as the attacks you try to bestow...foster has his faults but he also has provided insight into the problems we face.....EJ...take it easy on me...we're getting closer.

multi_million_heir writes:

cw, i have no axe to grind with city hall. you commented that people were protecting someone there on my dime. instead of acting like a child teasing others that you know some secret, i ask that you pass along the public information. does that make me pitiful or disgraceful because im not "in the loop" or have time to wander the corridors of city hall seeking gossip?

ejburger writes:

van, once again you are the voice of reason but council didn't want to fire Thompson, only Recker and Keister did. I agree with you, this is a joke! But I also agree with CW, Foster has no business in our city's business. He doesn't live here!! And what about all the money he collected for CARES? Where did it all go? Foster cost this city hundreds of thousands of dollars and then left. Now he had the audacity to send emails and blogs as if he still lives here. When people complain about wild spending they should never forget all of the frivolous lawsuits Foster entangled the city in.

Beached writes:

Thank you CW, I went to city hall asked questions as you suggested. The answers I received were a bit shocking. Kind of like the pot calling the kettle black.

marcoislandres writes:

Beached, please tell us what you learned.

multi_million_heir writes:

if in fact there is information readily available at city hall, and the dissemination of that information would serve to quiet the discord on the island, then that info should be made public by the city or any one else who is privy to the public information in an effort to unite the city, not continue to divide it and act like schoolchildren. we shouldnt have to receive public info through the gossip channel. that is why we have lisa at city hall. if the info will quash the negativity surrounding dana's report and negate the need for a forensic audit it should be made known. otherwise, we cant be expected to believe someone's rumor.

Flowerpower writes:

Obviously no one wanted to hurt Dana's future position. I really don't care what he did, I am looking forward. That's the problem with some of you people...always looking for the conspiracy. Instead, look for a positive tomorrow.

multi_million_heir writes:

beowulf, you are completely misinformed. please re read. i stated that if information exists it should come from the person that we pay to release that info. i should not have to go to city hall looking for gossip as was suggested by someone here. and i stated that if the info could save the taxpayers money (estimated to be between 100 and 500k) by eliminating the need for costly audits it should be made public. i have no source of info. that was cw, and beached. where you got the wild ideas you are putting forth is beyond comprehension. i also stated that acting as if you have a big secret when we are supposed to have transparency in government is acting childish. GOT IT? go back to happy hour now.

Montel writes:

Foster, now you're carrying conversations with yourself between two or three blog alias'. Has it dawned on you at all that this may not be sane? Have you thought for a moment how arrogant you must be to actually write a guest commentary to a paper in a city which you do not live and are not a resident about a meeting you did not aattend?? Really...I agree with CW; you need professional help.

playballonK writes:

Why get rid of someone who purposely held back a report that suggests there is some misappropriations of funds happening at city hall?...lets keep him!

Leroy writes:

The problem with you playballonk is that you, like Foster and some of the other cavedwellers on this island is that you guys believe the garbage McMullan feeds you. You guys get 50% of the facts and make up the rest. Keep in mind the people you associate yourself with...Foster is not a resident yet he acts like he knows what's going on. McMullan...well just click here: www.supportmarco.com he is a shameless man. Hey Bill, where's the check? I have no tolerance for your feeble arguments, lies and propaganda from wannabe politicians and conmen!

Leroy writes:

The only people who find what they are looking for in life are the fault finders. ~Foster's Law

TheVoice writes:

This is a crazy conversation...it sounds like beowulf and his buddies need to move to one of the other (uninhabited) 10 thousand islands,so there opinions have some merit between each other...lol

27_Year_Resident writes:

Foster and McMullan (better known as Dumb and Dumber) litter these blog sites with their anonymous lunacy. I agree with CW and refuse to acknowledge their drivel with a response any longer; they both need to get a life.

Foster and McMullan are nothing more than irritating mosquito's. Both of them would be an interesting Psychological study in narcissist human behavior.

August8 writes:

Finally!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

A new sign of maturity for the Marco Community!!

Instead of hard headed poorly made decisions, the panel made the decision to drop it's indignation of this fine, professional that they accidentaly landed for City manager, and to move forward in a sane and cooperative tone!!

Excellent

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