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Date of Issue: March 17, 2005

Attorney, planner fired in Bradenton Beach

In its first session as a newly elected body, the Bradenton Beach City Commission wasted little time enacting sweeping changes in governance last Thursday. Commissioners:

  • Fired City Attorney Alan Prather.
  • Fired City Planner Bill Brisson.
  • Fired Planning and Zoning Board Commissioners Pete Milazzo and Susan Kehne.
  • Placed all department heads on a 90-day probationary period pending performance evaluations.
  • Restricted all department heads from conferring with consultants without prior approval of the city commission.

The vote on all issues was 4-1, with Mayor John Chappie opposing across the board.

City Commissioner Anna O'Brien led the termination and probation charge. "We don't have the right team in place to reach our objectives," she said, adding that "I believe we can do the job we need to do with half the people in city hall. This does not need to be painful it could be the best thing we've ever done. We're showing up at a gunfight with a knife."

O'Brien later said in an e-mail that the "half the people" comment "was in reference to the team we need to get through all this development-growth management-visioning stuff, mostly the outside consultants we need, meaning lawyers and planners, etc. It was NOT a statement about city staff."

City Commissioner John Shaughnessy said "when the people voted me in, they wanted me to do a job, and I feel it's no good to clean half a house."

City Commissioner Lisa Marie Phillips said she was "unhappy about the money spent on legal fees. I have issues of trust going back to the ordinance regarding [residency of board members], and I think that's [the attorney's] job. Sometimes when people have been around too long, I believe it precipitates a change."

City Commissioner Peter Barreda said "we were voted in, and people said they wanted a change, and it's time for a change."

Prather has represented the city since 1985 as its legal counsel. Brisson has been the city's planning consultant since 1990. Milazzo has served on the planning and zoning board for 14 years, Kehne for more than a year.

Commissioners requested a list of pending projects from Prather and Brisson, indicating that the projects should be completed by the end of the year.

In other matters, commissioners unanimously selected O'Brien to serve as the city's vice mayor.

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