MADEIRA BEACH — As departures of longtime city administrators escalated this year, so did rumors of an effort to recall two newly elected commissioners whom some residents blame for the city's growing political turmoil.
This weekend, that effort became a fact.
Saturday, a two-page flier was to be hand-distributed throughout the city by a group calling itself "Stand Up for Madeira Beach Committee."
The flier, signed by John Hendricks, calls on residents to "make a difference" by joining an effort to recall Commissioners Nancy Oakley and Robin Vander Velde.
Hendricks, a city resident since 1986, asks his neighbors if they are aware that seven "capable, loyal city employees" left the city since the March election and urges people to "take a stand."
Administrators listed included Denise Schelgel (city clerk), Monica Mitchell (finance director), Michael Connolly (city attorney), Bill Mallory (fire chief), Mike Maxemow (community services director) and Deborah Cline (human resources manager).
Paula Cohen (community development director), also listed, left months before the election, as did former City Manager W.D. Higginbotham Jr., who was not included in the list.
The reason the administrators left the city, according to Hendricks' flier, was "intimidation, constant criticism and a lack of respect shown by" Oakley and Vander Velde.
Much of the flier quoted news articles and editorials dealing about the departures and the commission's responses.
Hendricks declined to reveal the other members of the committee, saying only it is made up of long-time city residents, some of whom are former members of the City Commission.
"We don't want this to look like a vendetta, we just want feedback from Madeira Beach residents as to whether or not they want a recall election," Hendricks said.
He said the other members of the committee will come forward in the future as part of a community-wide effort to retake control of the city's government.
Hendricks called the commission's actions since March "a joke."
"The city was well run and they have dismantled it. We lost good people with a lot of expertise," he said.
The city charter does not directly address recall elections, but does allow five voters to seek an initiative or referendum election by registering with the city clerk and circulating a petition among city voters.
Recall elections are governed by state law, which sets requirements for how such efforts are conducted.
Specific grounds required for a recall include malfeasance, misfeasance, neglect of duty, drunkenness, incompetence, permanent inability to perform official duties, and conviction of a felony involving moral turpitude.
The process is complicated and must be conducted within set time limits.
Mayor Travis Palladeno declined to comment on the recall effort. Oakley and Vander Velde could not be reached for comment.
Meanwhile, contract negotiations with Shane Crawford, the commission's pick to become the next city manager, were still unresolved Friday.
"It's about dollars and cents," Palladeno said.
The commission advertised the job at between $90,000 and $120,000. Crawford currently makes $117,000.
A special commission meeting is set for 7 p.m. Wednesday to ratify a contract with Crawford. Palladeno said if Crawford and the city can agree on a salary, Crawford would likely begin his new job by mid January.