Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Madeira Beach settles lawsuit over former city manager's dismissal

MADEIRA BEACH — Nearly a year after spending about $54,000 to terminate then- City Manager W.D. Higginbotham Jr., the City Commission spent another $6,504.92 last week to get rid of a lawsuit challenging that action.

The lawsuit was filed in March 2011 by former City Manager Jim Madden, who said the commission's decision the previous month to pay Higginbotham a severance package that included six months worth of salary was done illegally.

He maintained that because the formal resolution terminating Higginbotham's contract was not advertised, on the official agenda, or read out during the meeting, the city violated both state law and city codes.

The commission narrowly voted 3-2 last week for a substitute resolution officially terminating Higginbotham, with Mayor Travis Palladeno and Vice Mayor Robin Vander Velde opposed. Both had been highly critical of the previous commission's actions regarding Higginbotham.

"I am going to vote as if I were on the City Commission at the time," Vander Velde explained.

The commission then voted unanimously to accept the actual settlement agreement, effectively ending the lawsuit.

The agreement did not state that the former commission had erred, only that a new termination resolution would be approved, that none of the parties had any liability to one another, and that the city would pay Madden's attorney's fees and costs in exchange for the suit being permanently dismissed.

Higginbotham was appointed city manager in 2009, replacing Jill Silverboard, who resigned to become assistant city manager in Clearwater.

Madden served as the city's manager for two years until 2004, when he went on administrative leave and then resigned amid efforts to fire him. Previously, he was city manager in Pinellas Park until the commission there fired him in 1997.

When Higginbotham was terminated, at his own request, in February 2011, the commission paid him a $54,000 severance package, as called for in his contract.

At the time, Higginbotham he said he could not work with the new commission he expected to win the March 8, 2011 election.

In that election, voters picked the current mayor, Palladeno, as well as Vander Velde as a commissioner. They, along with Nancy Oakley, who was returned to office without opposition, formed a voting block that contributed to the exodus of most of the city's top administrators.

Within months, the city also lost its longtime city clerk, city attorney, finance director, community services director, community development director, human resources manager and fire chief.

After a messy search for a new city manager that lasted months and saw two candidates reject the position — and Madden himself serving as interim city manager, the commission finally appointed Shane Crawford as permanent city manager in December.

The city's government appeared to operate without much controversy until earlier this month, when Ginger Stilton, the city clerk the commission hired last summer, decided to quit amid criticism that she was not working well with Crawford.

Tuesday, Palladeno suggested the commission should consider asking voters to change the charter to have the city clerk report to the city manager rather than continue to be supervised by the commission as called for in the charter.

The commission plans to discuss the suggestion further at its Nov. 27 workshop.

Madeira Beach settles lawsuit over former city manager's dismissal 11/13/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 13, 2012 6:23pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Bucs' Doug Martin relying on strength from drug rehab to power his return

    Bucs

    TAMPA — He would not talk about the drug he abused. He would not identify the rehab facility he entered in January or how long he was there.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Doug Martin participates in an "open OTA practice" at One Buc Place, the team's training facility, in Tampa, Fla., on Tuesday, May 23, 2017.
  2. NCAA: Former USF basketball assistant gave improper benefits

    Colleges

    TAMPA — Former USF men's basketball assistant coach Oliver Antigua provided impermissible benefits, including lodging at his home, for two prospective student-athletes while they received on-campus tutoring, according to findings reported to the school by the NCAA.

  3. Assault charge may not sway voters in Montana election (w/video)

    Nation

    BOZEMAN, Mont. — Republican multimillionaire Greg Gianforte won Montana's only U.S. House seat on Thursday despite being charged a day earlier with assault after witnesses said he grabbed a reporter by the neck and threw him to the ground.

    People fill out ballots for the special election to fill Montana's only U.S. House seat at the Montana Pavilion at MetraPark on Thursday in Billings, Mont. [Associated Press]
  4. Quiet college dropout turned bomber: Who was Salman Abedi?

    World

    LONDON — He was quiet and withdrawn, a college dropout who liked soccer — and, some say, showed alarming signs of being radicalized years before he walked into a pop concert at Britain's Manchester Arena and detonated a powerful bomb, killing himself and 22 others.

    Salman Abedi was identified by British authorities as the man behind Monday’s attack.
  5. Soldiers launch attacks in besieged Philippine city

    World

    MARAWI, Philippines — Backed by tanks and rocket-firing helicopters, Philippine troops launched "precision attacks" Thursday to clear extremists linked to the Islamic State group from a city that has been under siege since a raid that failed to capture one of Asia's most-wanted militants.

    Soldiers fire at enemy positions Thursday while trying to clear the city of Marawi, Philippines, of armed militants.