In my opinion, Marco’s city council committed a serious mistake. When temporary city manager Polanco, having no previous city managerial experience and barely some 90 days “on the job” fired a veteran city employee for alleged misconduct, I believe the City Council had a responsibility to publicly scrutinize and investigate Mr. Polanco’s drastic action.
Only two councilors, Mssrs. Kiester and Honig, commendably moved for an open investigation. Surprisingly, the remaining five councilors refused. They cited, (correctly), the city charter’s provision that gives a city manager exclusive authority over staff employments. However, the charter also gives the City Council exclusive oversight of, and responsibility for, a city manager’s performance and employment.
Of course it’s possible that private one-on-one or private telephone discussions might have taken place prior to the firing. Even if so, in my opinion this City Council should have initiated an open, in the sunshine, investigation regarding the rookie city manager’s decision to fire the veteran employee.
Mr. Polanco’s inexperience and temporary status would seem to demand such an open inquiry. Please note that my concern is not over the guilt or innocence of the discharged employee. That’s a separate matter entirely. The concern is whether or not this City Council recognizes, and will publicly exercise, its authority and supervision of a hired city manager. This is of particular significance now because Marco has its newly hired professional city manager, a Mr. Roger Hernstadt, taking office in a few days. Mr. Hernstadt apparently enjoys and deserves the unabashed admiration and approval of our elected councilors. That’s fine, of course, but as many Marco residents may painfully remember, Marco Island has had some experience wherein the tail seemed to wag the dog. Hopefully, our current crop of city councilors will not take us there again.