Ex-Marco Island manager censured, barred from professional organization

Devan Patel
Marco Eagle
Lee Niblock, former Marco Island city manager

One of the largest professional credentialing organizations for local government has publicly censured and barred former Marco Island city manager Lee Niblock from its membership.

The International City/County Management Association’s executive board voted on the sanctions during its Nov. 30 meeting and announced the decision in a press release Friday after finding violations of its code of ethics. 

“According to information made available as part of the fact-finding process, Niblock made unprofessional, highly inappropriate comments to the principal of a school located in the community where he served,” the release stated. “He also made unwelcome physical advances toward her during a dinner meeting he arranged to discuss a job opportunity with the city.”

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The board’s decision came after its committee on professional conduct made the recommendation and engaged a fact-finding committee that was appointed by the Florida City and County Management Association.

Niblock’s tenure with the city of Marco Island was short-lived after he was hired in December last year. In late January, a complaint against Niblock surfaced in which he was alleged to have made inappropriate physical and verbal gestures towards Marco Island Academy Principal Melissa Scott.

As the complaint was being investigated by the Collier County Sheriff’s Office, the Marco Island placed Niblock on paid administrative leave. One month later, the Council voted to terminate his employment after it was determined that he had taken multiple actions that were grounds for termination.

Niblock was later charged with one count of misdemeanor battery by the State Attorney’s Office. He has pleaded not guilty and is currently awaiting trial.

The board’s decision to sanction Niblock occurred after concluding that he violated three tenet’s of the ICMA Code of Ethics.

The three violations relate to demonstrating the highest standard of ethical conduct and integrity of a public official, affirming social responsibility as a public servant and leveraging his position for personal gain or benefit.

While Finance Director Guillermo Polanco has filled Niblock’s chair since his termination, the City Council may have a new leader in place next month.

Council approved the selection of David Harden, the former city manager of Delray Beach, to serve in an interim capacity last week. Council Chairperson Erik Brechnitz and City Attorney Alan Gabriel are currently negotiating a contract with Harden with the goal of approving it at the Jan. 7, City Council meeting.

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