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Madeira Beach comes to terms with former city manager and clerk

Shane Crawford
Shane Crawford
Published Jun. 22, 2017

MADEIRA BEACH — Embattled City Manager Shane Crawford and former City Clerk Cheryl Crawford formally walked away Monday as both he and the new City Commission tried to put an end to the city's contentious politics.

"The Crawfords are done with Madeira Beach," the Crawfords' attorney, Jay Hebert, told the commission. "This family does not want to be a part of this culture anymore. It is toxic and they want it to be over."

After the meeting, Mayor Maggi Black indicated she hoped the city would be able to focus on the future rather than past political disputes.

Whether that will be possible remains to be seen.

The meeting was typically contentious with residents levying charges against the commission or against the Crawfords as they continued to their fight over development and the future of the city.

Resident John Hendricks, who has been particularly vehement in his opposition to the new commission majority, pledged to continue his effort to have Black and Commissioners Nancy Oakley and John Douthirt recalled from office.

He also filed a formal complaint with the State Attorney's Office and the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office that the city is "stonewalling" in providing him with requested public records.

The Sheriff's Office confirmed that it is investigating the complaint.

Crawford and his wife signed a series of agreements that give them collectively about $126,000 and guarantees they will be available to the city as consultants for a limited period of time.

The city manager's settlement includes 20 weeks of pay and insurance benefits, as well as unused vacation and sick time and attorney's fees. He will remain available to the city for consulting for the next four weeks.

Cheryl Crawford received six weeks of severance pay and similar benefits. She agreed to be available as a consultant through Sept. 7.

In exchange, the Crawfords agreed never to sue the city for any issues relating to their employment.

The Crawfords and the city also mutually pledged "not to divulge, reveal or disseminate any information" that would damage the reputation of each other.

It was this provision that caused Black to vote against the agreements, an action she described as a "matter of conscience."

Oakley also voted against the settlements, which were approved by Commissioners Terry Lister, Nancy Hodges and Douthirt.

Oakley earlier had refused calls from Hodges and Lister, as well as some audience members, to recuse herself because of outstanding ethics charges filed against her by the Crawfords.

The city manager's suspension, imposed last month, had expired the night before Monday's special commission meeting. Cheryl Crawford was fired at the same time.

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The two had become targets of a political faction bitterly opposed to two proposed hotel developments. That faction includes a former commissioner, Elaine Poe, who previously had strongly supported the Crawfords.

At one point, Poe filed ethics charges against the city manager, citing his personal relationship with Cheryl McGrady, now Crawford, who then was his assistant.

As a result of the ethics charges, Crawford permanently lost his membership in his professional organization, the International City/County Management Association.

McGrady later became city clerk, a position not supervised by the city manager, and the two subsequently were married.

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