Marco resident sent e-mail to council before manager fired, saying plan was 'no secret'

Frank Recker

File

Frank Recker

Steve Thompson

Steve Thompson

Fay Biles

Fay Biles

— While some Marco Island residents said they were displeased with the lack of public notice before the city manager was fired last week, others say most everyone knew it was coming.

“It’s no secret to most Islanders that apparently Chairman (Frank) Recker has begun an informal polling of other councilors regarding the question of asking for the resignation of City Manager (Steve) Thompson,” resident Larry Sacher wrote to council members and several residents.

He sent that e-mail the morning of April 19, hours before the council’s decision, according to records obtained by the Daily News.

“Frank (Recker) indicated in e-mails he sent me that it was going to be a done deal. Clearly it was a done deal,” Sacher said Friday.

Those e-mails were deleted, he said.

Sacher, a Marco Island Taxpayers’ Association board member, said he supported firing Thompson.

After adding a discussion on Thompson’s performance to the April 19 agenda, council decided in a 4-3 vote to fire Thompson, citing poor communication and lack of transparency.

Thompson should have told council members about correspondence in 2009 from the Environmental Protection Agency regarding the city’s and Quality Enterprises’ alleged mishandling of the toxic substance asbestos in 2006, Recker contends.

Councilmen Chuck Kiester, Joe Batte and Larry Magel agreed that after not hearing from the EPA for two years regarding potential violations of the Clean Air Act, Thompson should have known to tell them.

It wasn’t their only gripe, but it was among the most recent.

Recker maintained Friday that he didn’t poll other council members.

“All I could do was talk to people on the outside, who could give me their impressions. I didn’t need to know what other council members were saying. All the groups were supporting it,” Recker said.

Sacher said Friday he first heard about the plan to fire Thompson from Marco Island Taxpayer Association President Fay Biles the week before council made the decision.

“I took no part at all in this,” Biles said. “I said, ‘That’s up to them, up to city council.’”

She said she knew Thompson was going to be fired when she heard the EPA allegations.

Sacher’s e-mail isn’t exactly a smoking gun, said Jim Rhea, director of the First Amendment Foundation, which supports citizens’ access to government and thus receives contributions from the media, including the Daily News.

“This e-mail is plain hearsay to you and me,” Rhea said.

Council members shouldn’t be talking to each other outside of a public meeting, shouldn’t be using intermediaries to poll each other on issues and shouldn’t be polling themselves, he added.

“It’s about the spirit of the Sunshine Law, of open government. So that people know what decisions their representatives are making and why. So the public can voice their opinions,” Rhea said.

The Marco Island Chamber of Commerce board voted to show its lack of support of the process, although they took no official stance on whether Thompson should have been fired.

Biles said she wasn’t uncomfortable about a lack of public notice.

“It’s depends on the chairman of the board. That’s his (Recker’s) style and my hat goes off to him,” she said.

Thompson couldn’t have been fired without “behind-the-scenes negotiations,” Sacher said.

“It’s impossible not to violate the Sunshine Laws and they do it all the time,” he contended.

The city’s agenda modification rules allow council, by majority vote, to add items “limited to emergencies, those affecting the public safety, or time-sensitive items of a major significance affecting city operations.”

Councilman Bill Trotter opposed the timing of the discussion, saying waiting to properly notice the discussion wouldn’t put anyone at risk. He lost that argument in a 5-2 vote.

The Florida Attorney General’s office has recommended waiting to properly notify the public if at all possible, Rhea said.

The delay in getting a second to Recker’s motion to fire Thompson should disprove any conspiracy theories, Recker said Friday.

Councilman Chuck Kiester eventually seconded it.

“At the risk of being a conspiracy theorist, that Kiester pause and second was predetermined,” Sacher said.

Despite his statements about the advanced arrangements, Sacher supports the decision and hopes other administrators at City Hall similarly are held accountable.

Sacher said he supported interim City Manager Jim Riviere’s decision on Tuesday to remove Community Development Director Steve Olmsted from his $85,000-a-year position.

Olmsted, who received a $35,000 severance, will not be replaced, Riviere said.

“Olmsted was a good start, whether or not Jim (Riviere) is the one who made that decision,” Sacher said.

Other department changes are in the works, Riviere said.

Council selected Riviere unanimously on April 23, the Friday following Thompson’s firing.

Riviere was formerly chairman of the city Planning Board, appointed by then-Councilman Ted Forcht. His name wasn’t an option presented to the public in advance of his hiring.

There is no public record of consideration of Riviere for the interim position in advance of council’s decision because it wasn’t put in writing, Riviere said.

“I had the idea first and it was right after Thompson was separated from the city. I talked to council members individually,” Riviere said.

The city isn’t yet ready to discuss hiring a long-term manager and Riviere said he wouldn’t consider that position.

“Around here, long-term doesn’t seem to be very long term, does it?” Riviere asked rhetorically and smiled.

City Council will be considering a contract to pay Riviere $150,000 annually at a meeting scheduled Monday evening. Riviere waived benefits, bringing him below the cost of Thompson by about $70,000 annually. Thompson’s severance is $165,000.

Marco Island resident Amadeo Petricca said he didn’t take issue with the process of firing Thompson or hiring Riviere.

“Nothing is bizarre in the city of Marco Island,” Petricca said. “Somebody is always going to think there’s been a violation of the Sunshine Law, but thinking it and proving it is a different thing.”

© 2010 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 16

RayPray writes:

n view of the peremptory manner of his crucifixion by the municipal Marco Sanhedrin, I must now view Steve as a Christ-like figure -- sent among us to atone for the collective sins of asbestos promiscuity & septic mendacity.

What high eminence will next be thrown to the wolves? Stan Goober?

sailingalong writes:

I thought that MITA was a more responsible organization working for all of the citizens. Why is this bozo Sacher creating controversy when we finally have a breath of fresh air and hope for Marco? What a jerk!

marcosandflea writes:

Well the list grows, Ray Beufort, Ed Issler and now this new clown, Larry Sacher......

sailingby writes:

"Sacher said Friday he first heard about the plan to fire Thompson from Marco Island Taxpayer Association President Fay Biles the week before council made the decision."

Biles egotistic power trips are legendary. She has been honing her skills of behind the scenes manipulation for over a decade and has apparently managed to pull off a coup d'etat while also managing implausible deniability. “I took no part at all in this,” Biles said.

Biles has been stacking the Council Chambers for years with dissidents and misanthropes and those who just like to bash the powers that be for amusement, species that unfortunately thrive when thrown together and who are especially shortsighted.

Biles organizes behind the scenes letter to the editor campaigns and emails to City Councilor campaigns so she can hide behind her aloofness and Ph.D. and self appointed status as President of MITA (Marco Island Taxpayers Assoc) since its inception.

She is not only self distructing now but she is also attempting to take down the City government of Marco with her.

Recker seems to have lost his ability to think clearly and is reacting to Biles con job of creating a smoke screen with her angry followers so that he cannot see beyond it to the vast majority of the Islanders who are shocked and outraged by his actions.

Sad day for Marco Islanders.

Riviere would be well advised to slow down and be cautious at this point in time. Hopefully he will rely on a long view and what is best for Marco Island by considering that Biles voice is more shrill than substantive. And that the rest of us who have been bullied by her and her angry mob are looking for someone who will fight back and be thoughtful and reasoned in the midst of chaos.

naples_rocket writes:

in response to sailingby:

"Sacher said Friday he first heard about the plan to fire Thompson from Marco Island Taxpayer Association President Fay Biles the week before council made the decision."

Biles egotistic power trips are legendary. She has been honing her skills of behind the scenes manipulation for over a decade and has apparently managed to pull off a coup d'etat while also managing implausible deniability. “I took no part at all in this,” Biles said.

Biles has been stacking the Council Chambers for years with dissidents and misanthropes and those who just like to bash the powers that be for amusement, species that unfortunately thrive when thrown together and who are especially shortsighted.

Biles organizes behind the scenes letter to the editor campaigns and emails to City Councilor campaigns so she can hide behind her aloofness and Ph.D. and self appointed status as President of MITA (Marco Island Taxpayers Assoc) since its inception.

She is not only self distructing now but she is also attempting to take down the City government of Marco with her.

Recker seems to have lost his ability to think clearly and is reacting to Biles con job of creating a smoke screen with her angry followers so that he cannot see beyond it to the vast majority of the Islanders who are shocked and outraged by his actions.

Sad day for Marco Islanders.

Riviere would be well advised to slow down and be cautious at this point in time. Hopefully he will rely on a long view and what is best for Marco Island by considering that Biles voice is more shrill than substantive. And that the rest of us who have been bullied by her and her angry mob are looking for someone who will fight back and be thoughtful and reasoned in the midst of chaos.

WOW!

marcosandflea writes:

Klabautermann writes:
Sailing-by's comments are a mixture of self-over assessments, inferiority and just goofiness.

So.....Klabautermann, you know Ray Beaufort??

marcosandflea writes:

in response to Klabautermann:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Don't know about gay, doubt it, but a certified back stabber, been around for a while, has a lot to say behind various aliases on this blog, claims to be life long friend of Ted Forche.

Has a son who is often in police trouble, he was the one caught on video breaking into the gas station and stealing lottery tickets a few years ago.

Has never spoken publicly..wears a s----- hat, and now has health issues.

Biggest claim to fame on Marco, lived next door to Bill Moss and claimed to help him with city matters.

Talks a lot to Lisa Douglas.

sailingalong writes:

Sailingby, Leroy, Ray Beaufort, is a mean spirited jerk/loser with a failed family. There aren't any positives in his life. He tries to make himself relevant by stirring up hate and discontent. We will all be better off when he does go sailingby. It is too bad he just doesn't shut up until that day comes.

lauralbi1 writes:

Again, whenever I need a good laugh I just click the blogs and get a fast read.
Sailingby, don't let these people get to you. Look at it objectively. How manmy people blog on this paper ?? Maybe 100 or 200 at the most. Nothing when compared to ther over 9,000 voters that do not agree with them. The elections are what continue to dictate the future of this Island. They also dictate the Council that fires and hires City managers and votes for programs that they feel are required for our future. If not for a pang of guilt by Rob Popoff, Marco island would have had a Mileage rate that would have had enough in it to put some money away for Capital Improvements and provide for proper funding for essential services. Next year things will be better when the budget is prepared and voted on. The next election will result in no political changes on the Council. Theer are some good people that are running that will win, hands down.
The majority of citizens on Marco island are the ones that dictate what happens. Not the few bloggers that complain about so much on this site. MITA has no clout when it comes to dictating what happens on Council. Mr. Kiester and Mr. Batte are the only ears MITA has. So do not worry and keep on blogging.
Make sure you look at these blogs with the same sense of humor and lack of impact on Marco Island policies as I do.
Mr. McMullan will soon be outed and another "Watchdog" will bite the dust. Stay tuned. Interesting things about to happen.
Ed Issler

Brillo writes:

Ed, I had my x-rays today, Issler.

A question for you. If this site only has about 100 or so bloggers as you quote, obviously you "know" that for a fact and according to you what they say is not important then why do you bother with them? Aren't you contradicting yourself when you find it necessary to educate the so few that you belittle? This is the pot calling the kettle black. You have to look at it like this. Those 100 bloggers are entertaining you, but it takes one of you to entertain those 100 bloggers. Keep up the good work!

happy6 writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

lauralbi1 writes:

Brillo: It is too much fun !!! Reading the emotion and lack of facts in so many of the blogs is so entertaining. And responding to them with facts and history is even better !!! I mean read the blog above from Klabautermann. The election was just a few months ago. Don't you just find it hilarious ??

By the way, before anyone above does what they typically do and take everything out of context, I have the utmost respect for Rob Popoff amd appreciate the fact that he did not vote for a specific Mileage Rate. It is just if he had, things would be a lot better.
Hopefully, the current Council will analyze the real requirements and vote accordingly.
Ed Issler

u2cane writes:

In the immortal words of Rodney King, "Can't we all just get along?"

lauralbi1 writes:

I agree !!!!!!!!!!! We all live in Paradise, let's make sure that we enjoy it each and every day. I certainly do.
Ed Issler

Brillo writes:

Is it me or does anyone else see a form of disconnect going on here?

liberator100 writes:

"Biles said she wasn’t uncomfortable about a lack of public notice."

“It’s depends on the chairman of the board. That’s his (Recker’s) style and my hat goes off to him,” she said.

Fay Biles; you are such a hypocrat!

I think it is time to start a petition to recall the City. We were better off with the County.

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