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Staffers receive highest marks

There were A pluses all around.

City commissioners had nothing but compliments for City Manager Mike Roberto and City Attorney Pam Akin during their evaluations Thursday night.

Commissioners credited Roberto, who started work in June, with making an effort to get out and meet residents, revitalizing city employees and getting people excited about Clearwater.

"You have come into town in a whirlwind," Commissioner Ed Hooper said. "We needed that."

Roberto has taken an aggressive role in improving downtown, the beach and Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard.

The City Charter requires the commission to evaluate its two employees, the city manager and attorney, this time each year regardless of their length of employment.

Mayor Rita Garvey and Commissioner J.B. Johnson voted against hiring Roberto this year. Both had nothing but glowing remarks for him Thursday.

"I want you to know I am pleased the commission voted to bring you in," Johnson said.

Commissioners described Roberto, 42, as cooperative and as someone who studies the issues, listens well and really wants to get things done.

"You have one great weakness," Commissioner Bob Clark said. "You work too hard."

Commissioners also complimented Akin, 44, who has been the city attorney for three years. They said she was knowledgeable and honest, gives good advice and helps them understand the law.

She has helped the commission wade through the legal problems left behind by the troubled construction of several city buildings.

"The city is very fortunate to have Pam Akin as city attorney," Johnson said. "She's kept me out of trouble."

Commissioners also were pleased that she has become more vocal in their meetings and tells them what they need to hear, not what they want to hear.

"Instead of an A, I give you an A plus," Commissioner Karen Seel said.