Marco Council set to discuss suspended City Manager Lee Niblock, who is accused of battery
The Marco Island City Council is set to discuss suspended City Manager Lee Niblock at its meeting Monday night.
Niblock is on paid leave pending the outcome of a Collier County Sheriff's Office investigation into an allegation he committed battery.
City Council Chairman Jared Grifoni said he doesn't know whether any of the councilors will ask for Niblock's resignation or call for him to be fired.
“The reason why I put it on the agenda is because it’s been about one month since the city manager was put on leave and I felt it was appropriate to provide the council and the public with an update,” Grifoni said.
According to Niblock's contract, he must give 60 days' notice before resigning. If he gives less than 60 days notice, the City Council could vote to fire him immediately, and he would not receive a severance payment.
Niblock also would not receive a severance payment if the councilors fire him for misconduct or for violating the International City/County Management Association's Code of Ethics.
If the city fires him for any other reason, Niblock could receive a lump sum severance payment equal to 20 weeks of his regular base salary. Niblock's salary is $185,000.
Councilman Bob Brown moved for Niblock’s immediate firing at the Feb. 20 council meeting, but his motion failed 5-2. The council instead voted 6-1 to suspend Niblock, who began his job as city manager in December.
Marco Police Chief Al Schettino emailed the council and city attorney Feb. 16, informing them of the battery allegation, which the department received Feb. 6.
According to Florida law, a person commits battery when he or she "actually and intentionally touches or strikes another person against the will of the other."
Niblock, who consistently has denied the allegation, further surrounded himself with controversy after he wrote an email to Councilman Larry Honig hinting at a mass firing of city staff.
"The St. Valentine's Day massacre will be a little late this year. You will be pleased," the email reads.
Niblock sent the email one day after the Valentine’s Day mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.
The City Council voted 5-2 in a special meeting in November to hire Niblock as city manager. The council began its search for a new city manager in February 2017 after former City Manager Roger Hernstadt resigned Feb. 6.
Niblock, of Maquoketa, Iowa, was the county manager of Alachua County from 2014 until his dismissal in September because of differing views between him and the commission.
He earned a bachelor's degree in geography/resource planning from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, a master's degree in recreation and public administration from the University of Iowa, and a doctorate in public administration from Nova Southeastern University.