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Date of Issue: March 08, 2007

Two in Bradenton Beach building department on administrative leave

The cries of "no comment" resounding from Bradenton Beach city officials and staff are creating quite a buzz among residents in the wake of two city officials being put on unexpected leave.

Building official Ed Mc Adam was put on leave Feb. 23. Planning technician and code enforcement officer Gail Garneau was put on administrative leave several days earlier.

Mayor John Chappie had no comment on the two department heads' leave. Neither did Police Chief Sam Speciale other than to say "I can't discuss this matter." City Clerk Nora Idso said that both Mc Adam and Garneau are being paid, have use of their city vehicles and cellular phones during their absence.

Attempts to contact both employees by The Islander were unsuccessful.

City attorney Ricinda Perry said she and her law firm are in charge of investigating the matter.

She said an investigation was launched against Mc Adam after a complaint was filed by an "individual who lives on Anna Maria Island." Perry declined to elaborate on the source of the complaint or its nature, citing the matter as an on-going investigation by her and members of her firm, Lewis Longman and Walker. She added that partners with the Tallahassee branch of the firm are also looking into the matter.

"There's not that much information that is available," Perry said. "They are both on administrative leave at different times and on different types of administrative leave." She also declined to define the form of the leave, citing city policy which allows for myriad leave situations.

"There are a number of categories [in which employees can take personal leave]," Perry said.

She said that the investigation of Mc Adam is ongoing, subject to the complaint, and that Garneau had taken her leave several days prior for "personal reasons."

No other agencies are involved in the investigation of the matter, Perry said, other than her firm.

"We can't disclose the nature of the matter," Perry said of the investigation, adding that she expected more information to be forthcoming in the next few days.

Mc Adam, 68, was hired by the city in October 2004 after many years' employ by Manatee County in a variety of administrative positions, including head of public works, project management, wastewater and project engineer departments.

At Bradenton Beach, he receives $83,200 a year in salary, or $40 per hour.

Garneau, 51, was hired by Mc Adam in July 2005 and received excellent marks in a recent job evaluation. She is paid about $23,300 annually.

Records on the matter are being kept secret while Perry is investigating the matter.

Although no official comment was given by the city regarding the leave of two of the city's four planning and development staff, city commissioners did step forward last week to provide services to city residents in building-related matters.

The commission last week unanimously approved retaining the construction, inspection, testing and consulting firm of M.T Causley Inc. for "supplemental plans review and inspection services" for the city for "as long as needed."

The company, based in Homestead, Fla., will provide its services on a staggered scale to the city, depending on the services requested, ranging from certified building official tasks on a part-time basis at $85 per hour to plans examiner from $68 to $78.50 per hour. If licensed professional architects-engineers are required, the hourly pay would be $140.

"This is a part-time issue, as needed," said Chappie. "I decided to go with this company rather than using the services of Holmes Beach or Anna Maria."

All Island cities have interlocal agreements to utilize other building departments as needed on a time-material pay basis.