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Date of Issue: March 17, 2005

Probation ended for Bradenton Beach department heads

Probation for department heads in Bradenton Beach has been terminated, city commissioners decided last week.

"We need to let the department heads get on with their jobs without this hanging over their heads," said City Commissioner John Shaughnessy, advocate of the action.

"Why do they have to be on probation?" he asked. "It's like a threat."

City commissioners Nov. 21 voted 4-1 to place all four of the city's department heads - police chief, city clerk, director of public works and building official - on a 90-day probation pending performance evaluations. As of last week, no action toward implementing performance evaluations had been made with the exception of a request that all of the city's top employees file a daily log of their time.

"Lots of employees really stepped up to the plate and are doing a great job," said Vice Mayor Anna O'Brien, "but there are some I still have problems with. I'd like to see this [probation] continue and see some kind of review. We all need to review what we found out and look at areas where improvements need to be made."

City Commissioner Lisa Marie Phillips said she "would like to avoid any type of perception that with someone who had left our employ it would look like it was for one person. I want to avoid any sense of impropriety."

Shortly after the city commission vote to place all department heads on probation - and the termination of employment of City Attorney Alan Prather and City Planner Bill Brisson - Building Official Bob Welch tendered his resignation, citing in part that "actions by public official have made it impossible for me to continue working for the city."

He referenced Phillips and O'Brien in his letter or resignation, using terms such as "witch hunt" and "retribution" in his letter to Mayor John Chappie.

Shaughnessy's motion to terminate the probationary period of department heads passed 3-2, with Chappie, City Commissioner Peter Barreda and Shaughnessy voting in favor, and O'Brien and Phillips voting against.