Gia Lancaster addresses the Bradenton Beach City Commission Aug. 7 regarding her application for the city clerk position. She was hired at an annual salary of $50,000. Islander Photo: Charmaine Engelsman
Following the Pledge of Allegiance at the Aug. 7 commission meeting, the first order of business was to move agenda item seven to the top of the meeting.
The item was the presentation of the mayor’s choice for city clerk, Gia Lancaster.
The reason for the change in scheduling, it was explained, was that Lancaster had a long trip ahead to return to her Titusville home.
The commission had few questions for the candidate and Lancaster also limited her remarks.
The most urgent questions consisted of the mayor and Commissioners Janie Robertson and Jan Vosburgh asking Lancaster if she could get out of giving her current employer two weeks notice.
It was decided Lancaster would start as soon as possible or in two weeks. The mayor offered to help her find housing and make the transition an easy one.
It also was agreed that the procedure manual and a probationary period of six months would be adhered to, and Lancaster would be considered for a raise after three months on the job.
An Aug. 25 “or sooner if possible” start date was agreed upon, as well as a $50,000 annual salary, and Lancaster was approved by a 4-0 vote. Commissioner Ed Straight was absent.
City attorney Ricinda Perry said in her presentation that she received excellent recommendations for Lancaster from the references she provided and no problems were indicated by a Google search of her name.
However, The Islander learned from two newspapers in two cities, as well as online sources, that there were several red flags raised regarding Lancaster’s past job performances, including reports of her having been forcibly removed from meetings.
There was no dialogue as to why Lancaster resigned without notice from her Arcadia city clerk job in October 2013, or changed her name from Virginia Haas to Lancaster shortly before the walkout or why past jobs were primarily limited to approximately two years each.
Lancaster walked out on the Arcadia job in a staged event with five to six other department heads and the city administrator, who had given two weeks notice.
Lancaster and the others were given severance pay and six months of health care benefits by the administrator, although it was rescinded by the city council in the weeks following the walkout.
The Islander learned last week from the assistant editor at the Arcadian newspaper that Lancaster had participated in the walkout and exchanged emails on her office email account with other staff in planning the walkout — but no reason was given for the mass resignation.
Other questionable behavior was reported by the Arcadian, including an occasion when Lancaster (Haas) is alleged to have been intoxicated and forcibly removed from a city meeting.
According to public records, Lancaster gave a false reason for leaving Arcadia on a job application in Melbourne Beach in December.
It appears from news stories found online that Lancaster (Haas) also had problems as city clerk in Oak Hill before taking the Arcadia job, including another alleged eviction from a city meeting.
City commissioners unanimously appointed Terri Sanclemente as temporary city clerk at a special meeting July 21.
Commissioners sought out Sanclemente, who worked for the city as an administrative assistant 2006-12, to help fill the vacancy created after clerk Jamie Anderson was terminated and pro-tem clerk Tammy Johnson resigned.
The commission voted to bring Sanclemente back to perform city clerk services for six months, with the understanding that she could become a full-time employee.
Johnson, who was a deputy clerk, was first appointed pro-tem clerk, but she resigned July 3 amid allegations that she had violated public records laws.
Johnson trained Sanclemente, who started work July 7, during her final week on the job.
Sanclemente makes $17 per hour as a contract laborer, and does not receive employee benefits.
Although she is acting clerk, she lacks certification to serve as the city’s official clerk.
Anderson started work in February to fill longtime city clerk Nora Idso’s position after she resigned for health issues. Idso died in June.
Anderson was terminated June 19 when the commission voted 3-2 to end her employment.