FORT MYERS — Karen Hawes left her seat in Lee County commission chambers moments after the board agreed 4-1 Tuesday to accept her resignation as county manager.
Hawes' last day will be Oct. 31, but Commissioner Brian Bigelow, dissented saying he wanted today to be her last day. Bigelow also raised concern over Hawes' severance, which is one-year's pay at $170,000, full year's health insurance, sick and holiday pay and vacation leave. All items are stipulated in Hawes' 2009 contract.
"It is beyond me to understand why eight days, with so much at stake, to put this behind us, what causes you such consternation?" said Commissioner Frank Mann, directed toward Bigelow. "It would be such a blessing if we could move forward in unanimity, but perhaps that's not possible."
Mann originally called for Hawes' termination, agreeing with Bigelow who has been calling for months. Mann held off on attempting to terminate Hawes two weeks ago, so he could meet with Hawes and make the process as "painless as possible."
Bigelow began the discussion attempting to terminate Hawes with cause. As noted in her contract, cause can only be determined if there is insubordination, Hawes is charged with a felony, demonstrates a lack of professional conduct, a material breach of obligations, a lack of competency, and violates the county's code of ethics.
No other commissioner agreed to the motion.
"This has been a very awkward process," Commissioner Tammy Hall said.
Hawes has been with the county since 1985. She has been in the hot seat since the county's Medstar air ambulance program was suspended in August. She also has been scrutinized for her role in approving a contract with VR Laboratories.
With Hawes leaving, Bigelow said an interim county manger needs to be determined and Medstar needs to be reinstated.
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