City clerk Jamie Anderson reads a statement defending her employment with the city before her dismissal by a 3-2 vote. City treasurer Sheila Dalton, in the background, was retained in her position as treasurer. Islander Photo: Merab-Michal Favorite
the city of Bradenton Beach is looking for a new city clerk after the commission on June 19 voted 3-2 to dismiss Jamie Anderson from her post.
Anderson was one of two department heads the commission evaluated during a meeting that day at city hall.
Shelia Dalton, city treasurer, received a positive evaluation, resulting in tenure with the city.
Dalton and Anderson were the two newest city employees hired by Mayor Bill Shearon with consensus from the commission. Both started work Jan. 16.
Anderson left the commission meeting in tears after the mayor reluctantly announced her immediate termination.
Commissioner Janie Robertson and Mayor Bill Shearon opposed the decision, but were outnumbered 3-2.
City attorney Ricinda Perry, who analyzed the commissioner’s evaluations, said there were several concerns regarding Anderson’s performance.
“There were questions as to whether she had become a notary, where she was in regards to her Florida Clerk Association certificate and whether she really understood Florida law,” Perry said.
Only four of the five city officials submitted evaluations.
Perry also said some of the anonymous evaluations criticized Anderson’s management of the city’s computer services, which resulted in a loss of more than $4,000 for the city, and also her management of her one employee, deputy city clerk Tammy Johnson.
Robert Lincoln, the attorney representing ELRA Inc., Ed Chiles’ BeacHhouse restaurant corporate entity, accused Johnson of deleting city emails, which are public records under Florida law, and further blamed Anderson for covering it up.
He also said Anderson would ignore or delay public records requests, however Anderson has maintained that any delay was the result of the computer’s email system, which was functioning intermittently.
After Anderson’s departure from the meeting at city hall, city attorney Ricinda Perry read a statement on Anderson’s behalf.
“Due to the atmosphere of the city, I don’t believe I was given a fair chance to shine,” Anderson wrote. “This office has been unfairly under attack since the day I arrived.”
Perry said Anderson felt many of the evaluations unfairly compared her to Nora Idso, the former city clerk who performed duties of the city clerk, city treasurer, served as the head of two departments and supervised eight employees. Idso died June 9.
“The city has gone through pain-staking steps to split that job up at the recommendation of the mayor, who correctly identified problems associated with uncompartmentalized departments.” Perry told commissioners.
Anderson said she spent her time trying to remold the position and change procedures as issues came to her attention.
Robertson, who along with Shearon voted against the termination, said she felt the evaluations were premature because both employees have been “barely on the job for five months.”
“The amount of work that was given to Anderson barely gave her a chance to breathe,” Robertson stated.
Robertson suggested tabling the evaluations and revisiting the results for both employees at a later date.
However, Perry said that if the commission tabled the decision, Anderson would receive permanent employee status July 14 by default.
Shearon recommended Anderson be retained, Robertson supported the mayor’s motion. However it died for lack of a second.
Commissioner Jack Clarke motioned to dismiss Anderson. Commissioner Jan Vosburgh seconded the motion and it passed with Ed Straight as the third vote.
“The city has provided Ms. Anderson a fair and effective adjustment period for this employee to become familiar with her position,” Clarke said. “This commission has observed and evaluated Ms. Anderson and has determined she should be dismissed as being unsatisfactory in her performance.”
Dalton’s positive evaluation resulted in full-time employee status, including benefits and a $5,000 per year raise.
Both Anderson and Dalton were paid $50,000 annually.
Next steps for clerk’s office
Following Anderson’s dismissal, the commission voted unanimously to appoint Johnson as temporary city clerk until the city can advertise and hire a qualified replacement.
“Obtaining a new city clerk is a two month process,” Shearon said. “That’s if everything goes as planned.”
The commission unanimously approved overtime hours within the clerk’s office, advertising for the vacant city position and granted the mayor the authority to hire a part-time employee in the interim to greet people at the reception window and possibly deal with public records requests.
Clarke recommended a selection process for the new hires similar to the evaluation process, where each commissioner anonymously chooses three applicants, their choices are discussed at a meeting, followed by a vote based on a ranking matrix.
The two positions will be advertised for two weeks on the city website at www.cityofbradentonbeach.com.
MORE: To review the evaluations submitted by the city commission and mayor, go online to www.islander.org.