Emails detail former candidates' interest in Marco city manager vacancy

Devan Patel

Two former Marco Island city manager candidates have offered their services as the city attempts to find a replacement for Lee Niblock.

In the past six weeks, David Fraser and William Malinen have contacted elected officials and expressed interest in filling the position in different capacities.

Fraser and Malinen were two of the four finalists for the city manager’s position that ultimately went to Niblock.

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Niblock was placed on administrative leave on Feb. 20 after an allegation of battery surfaced. The council voted to terminate Niblock on March 19 with cause after City Attorney Alan Gabriel laid out four actions that were deemed actionable for termination.

Candidate David Fraser, left, speaks with Public Works Director Tim Pinter and City Councilor Bob Brown. The City of Marco Island hosted a "Meet the City Manager Candidates" event Wednesday evening in the city council chambers.

Shortly after Niblock was placed on leave, Fraser emailed Chairman Jared Grifoni and Vice-chair Charlette Roman to express filling in on an interim basis.

Most recently the city manager of Boulder City, Nev., Fraser mentioned he had launched a municipal consulting firm that could provide interim managerial services.

“Again, what I am offering is an opportunity for you to bring in an experienced manager (myself) who has done his homework on Marco Island and can provide the continuity you need,” Fraser wrote in the Feb. 26 email. “Again, because I would be employed by the company, not the City, I could assist until this issue is resolved (whether that be a month or six) and then quickly step aside. Additionally, I could be available to start with as little as 48 hours notice.”

Candidate William Malinen, right, speaks with Ken Honecker and Jeff Poteet. The City of Marco Island hosted a "Meet the City Manager Candidates" event Wednesday evening in the City Council chambers.

Malinen, who was the city administrator of Branson, Mo., from 2013 to 2017, contacted Grifoni the day after Niblock was terminated.

The email outlined possible steps to fill the city manager’s position including internal promotion, new recruitment or revisiting previous finalists, which led to Malinen expressing his interest in the position.

“I am confident that I could immediately address issues facing the City Council, such as employee morale, action on the employee survey, reestablishing public confidence in the city manager position, providing exemplary transparency, providing the community with an accurate analysis on the referendum on ambulance service and ensuring that the organization is promptly and efficiently providing services to the community – especially considering hurricane Irma damage and reconstruction,” Malinen wrote in the March 20 email.

While the council has not come to a consensus on how it will proceed, suggestions from both emails caught the attention of elected officials when they discussed the search process during Monday’s meeting.

Councilor Victor Rios made a motion that was not seconded to hire Fraser on a temporary basis so that interim City Manager and Finance Director Guillermo Polanco could be groomed for the permanent job.

Grifoni penned a white paper that suggested gauging the interest of former city manager finalists, but his motion on contact them failed by a 4-3 vote.

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