An old Irish blessing says, “A sunbeam to warm you, a moonbeam to charm you, a sheltering angel, so nothing can harm you.”
Perhaps its a fitting farewell for Bradenton Beach Mayor John Shaughnessy, who presided over his final city commission meeting Nov. 7 after falling by 17 votes to Mayor-elect Bill Shearon in the Nov. 5 election.
Shaughnessy’s Irish charm and quick emotions were apparent in his leadership and, as he and others said their farewells, sentiments were evident. The gallery was filled with family members and friends of the mayor and departing Commissioners Ric Gatehouse and Gay Breuler.
Gatehouse, too, lost a close election to Commissioner-elect Janie Robertson, while Breuler chose not to run for another two-year term. John “Jack” Clarke is preparing to take her seat on the dais.
Commissioner Jan Vosburgh opened the meeting by thanking the mayor and her fellow commissioners for their public service.
“It’s been a tough job and there’s not much appreciation,” said Vosburgh. “There’s always criticism and it’s easy to be a Monday morning quarterback. I can’t thank all of them enough.”
Breuler said she has served under three mayors and said working with Shaughnessy was a “wonderful” experience.
“There was a lot of contention at times, but I’m so glad I did it,” said Breuler, who was recently wed. “On the other hand, I’m so glad I got married to a sweet man. It’s on to the next thing. I had great fun doing this and, hopefully, will have fun doing the next thing, too.”
Shaughnessy said his two years as mayor was an education and even as a former commissioner didn’t realize how much is involved in getting things accomplished on a barrier island.
“It’s a long, drawn-out process,” he said. “But I enjoyed it and I really appreciate the city employees and department heads. It’s been a collaborative effort of everyone and I hope that will continue.”
Shaughnessy told Shearon he wished him “all the luck in the world. You are going to need it.”
City attorney Ricinda Perry also addressed the outgoing officials on their public service.
“You made tough decisions that weren’t always popular, but you believed in your hearts it was the right thing to do for the city,” she said. “It’s easy to pick apart decisions, but I personally loved working with all of you. You all really love this city and I thank you for this time we had together.”
Gatehouse thanked the citizens for allowing him to serve.
“I know we had some contention, but I always tried to keep the long-range good of the city in mind and hopefully we’ve done that.”
City clerk resignation finalized
While the emotions of the final meeting were apparent, there was still business to address. And while congratulations and best wishes were handed out to incoming officials, a microcosm of election issues surfaced.
Shearon addressed the commission during public comment and requested two items on the agenda be tabled and addressed by the incoming administration.
The mayor-elect wanted agenda items relating to Perry’s re-appointment as the city attorney and the resignation agreement of city clerk Nora Idso moved to his watch.
“With all due respect, I would like you to consider moving those items to the next meeting,” said Shearon. “The reason is because there is more information and the new commission needs to absorb that new information and those decisions also will have an impact to the budget that is only a month and a half old.”
Perry said the terms of her contract were vetted during the budget workshops and approved by the commission.
She invoices the city monthly for her services at $180 per hour.
Breuler moved to approve Perry as the city’s legal representative, which was seconded by Vosburgh. The motion passed 5-0.
Commissioners also moved forward with Idso’s resignation agreement.
Breuler said it was not a good idea to wait “because this happened during our administration and needs to be taken care of before this administration leaves.”
Vosburgh agreed, saying the new administration faces enough challenges and didn’t need to be engaged in this administration’s “loose ends.”
Straight also agreed, saying “We struggled with this for quite a while. I think this is the answer.”
Idso’s resignation revolves around health issues, so the exact reason for her leaving the city after 15 years of service is protected by privacy regulations.
However, the resignation agreement implies that due to medical reasons, Idso can no longer perform her duties on a daily basis. Assistant city clerk Karen Cervetto has been serving as acting city clerk.
With the unanimous approval of the agreement, Idso is automatically placed on paid administrative leave until April 30, 2014. Upon the conclusion of her administrative leave, Idso agrees to tender her resignation.
Commissioners implied possible legal consequences could rise from not moving forward with the agreement, which contains language preventing a future lawsuit. The agreement also states that the city worked with Idso for more than a year to address requirements set forth in the Americans with Disabilities Act.