HB chief locked out, dismissed — fired

The Islander learned over the Easter holiday, while Holmes Beach city offices were closed, Mayor Carmel Monti ordered the lock changed on the police chief’s office March 29, essentially barring interim Police Chief Dale Stephenson, a 26-year veteran of the city police force, from work.

The mayor further ordered city attorney Patti Petruff on March 28 to confiscate documents accumulated and stored by the department that are eventually shredded by an outside service.

City Commissioner David Zaccagnino confirmed through the city clerk that the mayor had changed the locks on the police chief’s office March 29.

This was followed by a phone call, according to The Islander’s sources, on Easter Sunday from the mayor to Stephenson, telling him to collect his things the morning of April 1. He was dismissed — fired —  without being allowed to serve out his notice.

It was unclear at press time whether the mayor’s dismissal of Stephenson required concurrence from the commission.

Zaccagnino also said he learned the mayor had changed the lock on his city office a few weeks earlier.

While a strict public records law prevents disposal of most records, duplicate copies, expired records and some others are routinely disposed.

Former Chief Jay Romine, who retired in December 2012, said this week his office observed a retention schedule for records.

The Islander also learned from Romine that he received a letter in the past week from Monti demanding he return his revolver.

Romine said he doesn’t have a revolver, but he had opted for auxiliary status and retained his department-issued weapon based on existing policy.

He has since asked to be separated from the auxiliary and plans to return the department weapon.

Neither Stephenson nor Monti replied to inquiries from The Islander.

8 thoughts on “HB chief locked out, dismissed — fired

  1. Marlane Wurzbach

    This rather heavy-handed treatment of a respected veteran HB employee, when added to the other reports we’ve read here, start to ring warning alarms for many HB citizens. For one example: just in March, The Islander reported that code enforcement clerk Jan Gorman, a longtime employee, offered the mayor her resignation with a termination date in May, but was allegedly told to collect her personal items and immediately leave city hall with a police escort. A police escort??? Has Holmes Beach government signed up to be on some sensationalized reality TV show?

    If there are legitimate reasons to handle personnel matters in this aggressive manner, the mayor should be more forthcoming and let his constituents know those reasons and not dodge inquiries from the paper.

  2. Mary C

    While your starting your recall process of the mayor, get rid of the “contract” people also. She is the actual person running the city, just ask any employee. I can’t believe 4 employees resigned/retired/quit in the short time the new administration has been in office. Something definitely WRONG!

  3. FLRES1976

    Please read the article a little closer. Why would the city attorney Patti Petruff have been told on March 28 to confiscate documents accumulated and stored by the department that are eventually shredded by an outside service. Clearly there is more to this story then his ego being hurt because he was not selected! According to what I read, he was asked to stay on until he retired. He had the option of staying on yet chose to leave on his own.

    There is something fishy here that he was not allowed to work out till the end of his notice.

    1. bonnerj

      We know why. Following the commission approval of Bill Tokajer, interim Chief Dale Stephenson resigned his position and took his retirement effective April 4. The mayor allegedly told Stephenson on Easter Sunday — two days after the lockout — to collect his things Monday morning, saying — allegedly — as his reason, That’s the way I do things.

  4. Concerned Citizen

    I am a bit confused as to why the comments above are related to the Mayor? I think what people should be asking, is what caused the Mayor to change the locks so that the “Acting” Chief of Police could not get in his office?

  5. Bob Pinardi

    Sounds like the Mayor has been caught doing something he shouldn’t have done. And he wants the evidence shredded.

  6. Bill

    The recall process is starting and soon Mr. Key Royale will be just another former Mayor / mistake.Buh bye Monti…


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