MADEIRA BEACH — In a surprise move, the city commission voted 3-2 to hire a new interim city manager, fire its attorney and hire a new attorney.
Although the commission had debated the personnel changes at previous meetings, the agenda for Tuesday's meeting did not include the hiring of Allen Godfrey, the firing of City Attorney Michael Connolly or replacing him with former City Attorney Thomas Trask.
Godfrey has told Mayor Travis Palladeno he will take the job, but has not formally resigned as Belleair Beach public works director.
Only a handful of people were in the audience and only one resident — former City Manager Jim Madden — spoke in reaction, mostly to criticize fire Chief Bill Mallory, who has been serving as interim city manager.
"My concerns are that Mr. Mallory said he has 30 years of experience in municipal fire, but certainly not in city management," Madden said.
Earlier in the meeting, Madden criticized the transfer of money within the Fire Department budget without formal approval from the commission.
The move to replace Mallory with Godfrey as interim city manager came toward the end of the community forum part of the agenda.
Palladeno looked directly at Commissioner Robin Vander Velde before asking if "anybody else" wanted to speak.
When there was no answer from the commission or the audience, he again looked at Vander Velde, who then raised her hand.
"In the spirit of a new direction for Madeira Beach, I move (that) we offer the position of interim city manager slash director of public works to Allen Godfrey for a salary of $83,000 a year," Vander Velde said.
She also said his hiring should be based on a background check, "including a credit check and drug test."
Palladeno and Commissioner Nancy Oakley, who several weeks ago first suggested Godfrey for the interim city manager post, supported Vander Velde's motion — as they did later when she proposed firing Connolly during the "miscellaneous items" part of the commission agenda.
When reached Friday, Palladeno denied knowing that Vander Velde would propose either action at Tuesday's meeting, explaining that he normally looks at all commissioners when asking whether anyone wanted to speak.
"The community forum is for commissioners to speak as well," Palladeno said.
Commissioner Terry Lister, who opposed the actions along with Commissioner Carol Reynolds, said Friday he is angry with how the entire process was handled.
"I am mad. What they did was wrong," Lister said, adding that he believes the commission majority bases its decisions on "grudges" against city employees.
The one thing the commission did as expected Tuesday was to unanimously hire Ginger Stilton as the new city clerk. She starts May 27.
It is uncertain when Godfrey will begin his new job. By Friday, he had not signed the required release allowing the city to perform a background check.
Meanwhile, Mallory, who is the city's fire chief, continues to serve as interim city manager.
One other employee who might be affected by Godfrey's pending appointment is the city's current public works director, Mike Maxemow.
Maxemow, who has worked for the city for some 35 years, said Friday he has not been told what, if any, job he will have once Godfrey takes over as interim city manager and public works director.
Palladeno said Maxemow's future will be "up to the new interim city manager", adding that Maxemow could serve as a project manager.
"I have a heart, but number one this is about the residents. This has been a great week for Madeira Beach," Palladeno said.