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St. Pete Beach city manager plans to resign

Published Sep. 10, 2005

City Manager Carl Schwing, who has received the trust of some and the disdain of others since his hiring three years ago, plans to resign today.

Schwing said late Tuesday he has no plans for a new job, and he would not comment on whether city commissioners urged his resignation. Schwing returned last weekend from a weeklong vacation and submitted his resignation proposal Tuesday afternoon.

Mayor Ward Friszolowski also would not comment, though he said he had discussed the resignation with Schwing but did not ask the city manager to resign.

At a meeting tonight at St. Pete Beach City Hall, the City Commission will consider Schwing's resignation, including a severance package he proposed totaling almost $84,811. If accepted, the resignation would take effect Thursday.

Schwing, 45, came to the city in 1998 to take the place of former City Manager Danny Walker, the controversial leader who left his position amid allegations that he sexually harassed former City Clerk Jane Ellsworth.

Ellsworth got a $110,000 settlement to drop her complaint. Walker, who resigned with a $74,861 severance package, plus unlimited payment of legal fees in case he was sued, today heads a St. Pete Beach neighborhood civic group.

Schwing would not talk specifically about his reasons for leaving. Most recently, he has been criticized for not allowing police Chief Ray Kaminskas to handle discipline in his department, even though the discipline Schwing proposed for two police captains also included a "letter of caution and instruction" for Kaminskas.

Last year, as the city worked to finalize a plan to build a new City Hall, Schwing accused a citizens committee of violating the Sunshine Law. He turned the matter over to the police chief, who turned in the resident to the state attorney's office.

The City Commission awarded Schwing a 6.5 percent raise in December, along with an evaluation that praised how he worked with the community and surrounding cities. The same evaluation urged him to foster better relationships with the city staff.

In his resignation letter, Schwing said his inability to unify the desires of people in St. Pete Beach, long known for its political divisiveness, contributed to his decision.

"A city manager has to make decisions which are not always popular," Schwing wrote. "It is a position which attempts to balance the needs of the employees, residents, visitors, businesses and elected officials. People change, and situations change. Unfortunately, over the past few weeks, it has become clear to me that I am unable to effectively continue in my position here."

His letter, which doubles as a list of the most controversial issues the city has encountered in his tenure, cites his accomplishments in St. Pete Beach. Schwing pointed to Honor Walk, a new park at Upham Beach that made some residents furious because it pays tribute to people who are part of the city's renowned power structure.