MADEIRA BEACH — Two city commissioners who have complained about Interim City Manager Bill Mallory failed last week to have a highly critical evaluation placed in his permanent personnel file.
A commission majority rejected the attacks against Mallory, who is also the fire chief.
Commissioner Robin Vander Velde's complaints about Mallory were echoed by Commissioner Nancy Oakley, but an attempt to put Vander Velde's three-page evaluation in Mallory's file was blocked by Mayor Travis Palladeno, Vice Mayor Carol Reynolds and Commissioner Terry Lister.
Mallory was chosen by the previous commission in February to run the city after the departure of W.D. Higginbotham Jr., who was fired at his own request after he said he could not work with the commission he expected to be elected in March.
In addition to Higginbotham's departure, the city lost a number of longtime employees, including the city clerk, finance director and development director.
Mallory initiated the discussion during Tuesday's regular meeting, a day before a special meeting Vander Velde called to consider replacing him as interim city manager.
"The time to (discuss) it is while I am sitting here, not when I am back as fire chief and not in a position to talk directly to the commission," Mallory said. "I always take the position that I work for the commission, not for an individual commissioner."
The city charter prohibits individual commissioners and the board as a whole from interfering with the city manager's supervision of city employees or his daily operation of the city.
Mallory said he was "putting the city on notice" that he was prepared to hire a labor attorney if the evaluation remained in his personnel file.
In that report, Vander Velde complained that Mallory took three months to give her his cell phone number, did not respond promptly to her requests for information or actions she wanted him to take, and did not "recognize my position as a commissioner or to be a team player."
She also criticized Mallory for failing to investigate information she contended was faxed to the St. Petersburg Times from City Hall.
Oakley added that Mallory had twice failed to return her phone calls and did not stop negative treatment of the new city clerk by other City Hall employees.
"You have done a good job. I don't like this. I don't like it at all," Reynolds said, defending Mallory.
She objected to Vander Velde's action, taken without the knowledge or consent of the rest of the commission.
Lister said putting Vander Velde's evaluation in Mallory's personnel file was "not fair."
Palladeno praised Mallory for working hard to run the city and asked Vander Velde whether she would agree to remove her report from his file.
She and Oakley refused, but they lost in a formal 3-2 vote.
"We have got to work together and work out our differences and start answering to each other or we will not get anywhere at all," Palladeno said at one point.
On Wednesday, the commission also rejected Vander Velde's push to seek a different interim city manager.
The commission's first two picks for the permanent position, Allen Godfrey and James "Scott" Sundermeier, backed out during contract negotiations.
The commission will discuss the next steps in its search at its Sept. 7 workshop.