Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Former Hillsborough administrator Bean sues commissioners over termination payout

TAMPA — Former Hillsborough County Administrator Pat Bean sued her former bosses Monday, saying they owe her the full severance denied her last June when she was fired.

Bean's seven-page lawsuit claims county commissioners breached her contract when they fired her for cause and denied her payment for the full value of her severance.

Under terms of her contract, Bean was entitled to receive payment for a year of pay — $226,377 — plus the value of a year's worth of benefits if fired without proper justification. The county's Human Resources Department last year placed the value of the payout at $455,233.

That calculation included $191,737 as payment for unused vacation pay and a portion of unused sick pay, which all county employees are entitled to when they leave their jobs. That's all commissioners agreed to give Bean when she was fired.

Bean is seeking payment for the difference between the two figures — $263,496 — plus interest.

Her suit also seeks an unspecified amount to cover legal expenses she amassed defending herself against a criminal investigation and an ongoing ethics complaint, as well as the cost of this lawsuit.

Commissioner Mark Sharpe said Bean is mistaken in her demands.

"It's the people's money," he said after the suit was filed. "It's not her money. The contract was clear. She violated it. It's nothing personal."

Sharpe said Bean shouldn't be trying to get yet more tax money.

"I just don't think she has a right to reach into the public's pocket to get more money," he said.

Commissioners last year voted 5-2 to fire Bean from her job as chief executive of the county's government. They said she had exercised poor judgment and weak leadership during challenging times for the government caused by a bad economy.

They specifically cited a 1 percent pay raise she gave herself and then-County Attorney Renee Lee in 2007, without commissioners' permission, as justification to deny her severance. They cited a provision in her contract that said she could be denied the payout if found to have committed an illegal act for personal gain in conjunction with her county employment.

While Bean was still administrator, Commissioner Kevin Beckner asked the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate the raises. The FDLE also looked into claims that Bean and Lee snooped through the e-mails of auditors who discovered them.

On both counts, the FDLE found it could not be proved Bean did anything criminal, in part because she had sought a legal opinion from Lee that the raises were kosher. Lee said that the raises, given to other managers who had cut the budget, were tantamount to a benefit to which she and Bean were entitled without having to seek board approval.

An attorney for Bean asked commissioners in May to pay her the full severance since she was cleared of criminal wrongdoing.

Commissioners said that, despite the FDLE findings, denying her severance was still appropriate. They said the raises violated the county's charter and state law, which give commissioners sole authority to set the administrator's and attorney's salaries.

Richard McCrea, a lawyer commissioners hired to advise them on how to deal with Bean and Lee, told commissioners at the same meeting that their position was defensible. However, he has previously said the timing of her termination, more than a year after auditors revealed the raises, could pose a challenge to the county's position.

Bean did not return a phone call to her home and attempts to reach one of her attorneys were not successful. An attempt to reach McCrea also was unsuccessful.

Times staff writer Tia Mitchell contributed to this report. Bill Varian can be reached at (813) 226-3387 or varian@sptimes.com.

Former Hillsborough administrator Bean sues commissioners over termination payout 06/20/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 21, 2011 12:11am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Encounters: Trial by storm for a rookie principal

    K12

    DUNEDIN — When he nodded off to sleep, the hallway lights outside Michael Vasallo's office were on, so the sudden darkness woke him.

    The glow of his desk phone dimmed.

    Michael Vasallo, right, the first-year principal at Dunedin Highland Middle School, talks with the school's head plant operator Clint Case near the back-up generator on campus. The generator failed just as Hurricane Irma passed through Pinellas County, making for a stressful night. The experience made Vasallo long to return to his regular job, educating middle schoolers. [COLEEN WRIGHT   |   Times]


  2. Who is in charge during a hurricane? Hillsborough County and Tampa still can't agree

    Hurricanes

    TAMPA — Who has the authority to order an evacuation during a hurricane?

    Mayor Bob Buckhorn says he has evacuation authority.
  3. Gators rally past Kentucky, streak hits 31

    Blogs

    LEXINGTON, Ky. — For the second week in a row, Florida found itself storming the field in a game that came down to the last second. A 57-yard field-goal attempt by Kentucky kicker Austin MacGinnis came just a few feet short of making history and snapping a 30-year losing streak, as the No. 20 Gators escaped a …

    Florida wide receiver Brandon Powell (4) scores a touchdown during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Kentucky, Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017, in Lexington, Ky.
  4. Pen makes it way too interesting as Rays hang on for 9-6 win

    Blogs

    A couple of home runs provided the news pegs of the night for the Rays, but it was more topical to talk about what nearly happened as they hung on for a 9-6 win over the Orioles.

    Lucas Duda's three-run homer in the third inning was the Rays' record-breaking 217th of the season, as well as his …

  5. An attempt to project what Rays will look like in 2018

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — We know what the Rays look like this year: a team that had enough talent but too many flaws, in construction and performance, and in the next few days will be officially eliminated from a wild-card race it had a chance to win but let slip away.

    Adeiny Hechavarria, high-fiving Lucas Duda, seems likely to be brought back.