MADEIRA BEACH — City Manager Shane Crawford is facing two ethics complaints alleging that he is having an improper "romantic relationship" with his assistant and that he failed to require a contractor to buy workers' compensation insurance.
Crawford, who emphatically denies he did anything wrong, spoke passionately at a packed emergency City Commission meeting Wednesday he called to discuss the complaints. He said his "heart was broken" by the allegations.
Then the meeting turned into a virtual lovefest as the mayor, three commissioners and most of the overflow crowd of residents praised his job performance and pledged him their support.
Mayor Travis Palladeno started the praise, pledging "100 percent of my support."
This praise was repeated by Commissioners Pat Shontz, Nancy Hodges and Terry Lister, who later upped the ante to 120 percent support.
Vice Mayor Elaine Poe, who had praised the city manager in the past, did not attend the meeting.
The ethics complaints were filed confidentially with the International City/County Management Association, the professional body that certifies city managers.
At the end of the meeting, City Attorney Tom Trask stressed that nothing in state law, the city's charter or its personnel manual prevents Crawford from dating his assistant, Cheryl McGrady.
As for the workers' compensation issue, Trask had previously advised Crawford that the city's contract provisions did call for the contractor to buy the insurance, but noted the contractor subsequently qualified and received a state exemption from that requirement.
Crawford also reminded the commission that he had spoken to each of them last year about his relationship with McGrady. He also said they are living together.
Crawford said the personal attacks are a side effect of significant opposition to major hotel and condominium developments proposed for the city's downtown area.