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Kudos to City Commissioner Mark Rossi and City Manager Bob Vitas for working out a severance package for Vitas, as per this article in today’s Citizen – www.keysnews.com. Rossi on left, Vitas on right.
Saturday, June 28, 2014
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Vitas wants out with $120K payout
City manager signs deal, clears out office
BY GWEN FILOSA Citizen Staff
City Manager Bob Vitas, chosen by city commissioners two years ago this month to run Key West, agreed Friday to leave the job in exchange for a compensation package worth $120,000.
That includes 18 weeks of pay and benefits, plus reimbursement for unused sick days and his $21,212 contribution to the city’s retirement plan, according to documents released Friday.
Facing the possibility of being fired at a 9 a.m. Monday meeting scheduled to discuss his future in Key West after a hiring dispute, Vitas didn’t resign or quit.
Instead, he signed a two-page “separation agreement” that would cancel his original contract, which runs through July 15, 2015.
“It’s a parting of ways,” said City Commissioner Mark Rossi, who helped negotiate the deal and said he initiated a sit-down with Vitas out of respect. “I had breakfast with him yesterday. It was an informal meeting. Bob’s my friend.”
The agreement still requires the commission’s approval before it can take effect.
If it does, City Attorney Shawn Smith becomes interim manager right away. Former city manager Jim Scholl has agreed to step into the office soon after, Mayor Craig Cates has said.
But one stark fact emerged Friday: Vitas’ office had been cleaned out sometime between the end of the day Thursday and Friday morning, staff employees said.
Late Thursday afternoon, employees saw Vitas on the job in his office with his personal possessions in place.
Vitas couldn’t be reached for comment Friday. A telephone message left for his attorney, Russell Yagel of Tavernier, wasn’t returned.
The contract Vitas signed calls for a clean break with the city agreeing not to interfere with his “pursuit of future employment opportunities,” and Vitas giving up the right to sue for any additional claims.
If at least four commissioners vote in favor of the deal Monday, the city must hand Vitas a check for $71,000 to cover 18 weeks of pay and benefits, plus a car allowance of $1,250, by July 15, the contract states. City Attorney Smith, who openly vented his frustration with the city manager at a June 17 meeting, advised commissioners Friday to approve the separation and end a painful chapter in Key West government history.
“Firing the manager without cause would result in extended and expensive litigation,” Smith told them in a memo. “It is in the city and community’s best interest to bring the current turmoil to an end in this fashion, and move forward in a much more positive and constructive effort.”
Any city employee who leaves the city is entitled to a check for any unused sick pay and vacation over his tenure, Smith wrote.
Vitas’ original three-year contract guarantees 20 weeks of pay and benefits as severance if fired without cause from the $180,000 yearly salary. Vitas’ weekly pay is $3,565.38.
According to documents released Friday afternoon by the city clerk’s office and posted online, Vitas has chosen to leave quietly with $70,000 in severance. Come July 15 he’ll receive almost $50,000 for the sick leave and time off he has accrued, along with $21,212 from the city to reimburse him for what he has contributed to the city’s retirement plan.
If finalized Monday by the commission, the separation deal would immediately order that Vitas and each member of the commission not make any statements in any form — even anonymously — “that slander, libel or defame the reputation of either party.”
Ten days ago Friday, four city commissioners and Smith blasted Vitas, saying he blatantly ignored local laws when he struck a $114,000 contract with 28-year veteran David Fernandez.
The salary alone drew grumbling.
“It’s a slap in the face to every employee at city hall,” said Commissioner Tony Yaniz, who then called for Vitas to either resign or be fired.
Vitas said he was doing his job as charged by the city charter and had a major vacancy to fill in the wake of Utilities Manager Jay Gewin’s resignation May 7.
Gewin, who earned $61,000 a year, is leaving July 3.
Fernandez, who used to run the department as a director, has the experience to take over without any instruction or training, Vitas said.
The job was listed at $85,000 but an internal posting was pulled. Vitas said he upgraded the position and decided Fernandez was the best choice.
But criticism arose immediately after Fernandez signed a five-year contract June 11, agreeing to retire from the city and start taking his pension while taking the six-figure job with the opportunity to collect additional pay for handling any assistant manager tasks.
Former City Commissioner Harry Bethel called it “a platinum parachute,” while at the June 17 meeting, Commissioners Clayton Lopez, Billy Wardlow, Yaniz and Jimmy Weekley each took turns expressing dismay with the Fernandez deal.
They also backed City Attorney Smith. Mayor Cates said he had sat down with Vitas and Smith recently to tell them they must work together.
Vitas is the one who dropped the ball when it comes to communication, said Cates.
Smith said Vitas ignored two local laws — one that requires commission approval of any contract worth $20,000 or more, and another that says the city attorney must review all contracts.
Vitas said the policies were vague, angering Smith who turned to him and said, “That’s a bald-faced false statement.”
The public dressing down of Vitas, whose last job was running the village of Lake Zurich, Ill., included an emotional Smith saying he wasn’t certain he wanted to keep working for the city after his own contract expires in December.
Earlier this year, six of the seven commissioners delivered favorable job evaluations to Vitas. Only Yaniz took issue with Vitas’ performance.
I hope this sour experience will put a stop to what has long been a common practice down here: long-term local government employees retire, get a nice pension and benefits, and soon are hired back by their former employer. That’s what set off this fracas, although in this case, the inability of Bob Vitas to work with Shawn Smith itself was a deal-breaker. Smith, left in left photo below, Scholl in right photo with Mayor Cates.
Does rehiring Jim Scholl temporarily, or longer, bring back a need to have two city managers? Hiring Scholl after he retired from the Navy, when he was the local naval base commandant, required hiring a second assistant city manager because, it turned out, Scholl was barred by the Navy from working on any city-Navy situations in which he had been involved as base commandant. Vitas was going to one assistant city manager.
Shawn Smith will have a bigger work load as both city attorney and city manager. I don’t see him wanting that to go on very long, even if he gets paid extra, which would make sense and be fair. Holding down both jobs might create conflicts of interest for Shawn within the city government. It also might prevent Shawn from representing the city in litigation. As city manager, he might have to testify for the city, or he might be called by the other side to testify. There is a rule against attorneys being witnesses in cases they are litigating for a client.
My remaining concern is what I reported a couple of times already: that I was told by a local “inside trader” that an unspoken agenda is Key West Conchs are using this sad affair to promote putting Danny Kohlage, Jr. into the city manager’s job. The inside trader said that would be a disaster move for the city, because Kohlage is not qualified. Other in the know people also then told me putting Kohlage in the city manager’s job would be a disaster for the city.
Looks to me like the city is in a big pickle, and I hope there is a silver lining, or a miracle, waiting in the wings.
Moving to my side of as the weird west world turns,
I spaced out yesterday being the filing deadline for the next candidate financial report. The Supervisor of Elections Office kindly called me around 3:30 to remind me the deadline was 5 p.m., but I didn’t see until after 5 p.m. that the call had come in. So, I went online and filled out the forms and filed electronically, maybe by 6:15 p.m.
All I had filed up to yesterday were Waiver reports, because I had not yet opened a campaign bank account. I opened the account on June 18, during the filing week. I deposited $1,1750 of my own funds, and then paid the $1162.50 filing fee, and then paid the T-Shirt Factory $350 for campaign T-shirts. That was the total financial activity in my campaign, which I reported in what I filed yesterday, after the Supervisor of Elections Office had closed.
I don’t know how that will go from here.
Meanwhile, I received this beauty pageant invitation the day before yesterday:
Dear Mayoral Candidate:
The Key West Golf Club Homeowners Association will be hosting a Mayoral Candidates Question & Answer Forum on Monday, July 28th. The event will start at 6:30pm and will conclude within two hours. It will be held at the Clubhouse, at the Key West Golf Course.
There will be a moderator, who will field questions from the floor. Each question will be answered by all of the candidates. The moderator will help interpret and reject redundant questions. The event will be promoted by placing ads in various publications and sending press releases to all the relevant news agencies and radio stations. The residents of the Key West Golf Club HOA and all citizens of Key West will be invited and welcomed to this event.
We think this is an important opportunity for the residents of Key West to hear your platforms and positions on issues important to our city. We hope you will be available to attend and we look forward to seeing you at the Forum. Please contact us by July 7th if you will be participating. If you have any questions or comments, please contact me.
Russ Vickers, President
Key West Golf Club Homeowners Association
Thanks, I will be there
That’s a good format. The candidates should not know the questions ahead of time. Your Homeowners Association members and other citizens will feel included and represented by posing their own questions.
I have a few questions:
Will candidates have time at the beginning, say a minute or two, to introduce themselves?
How long will candidates have to answer a question?
Will the forum be video-taped and later available for viewing on You Tube?
Will the forum be live-streamed and/or broadcast live by a local radio station set up in the Clubhouse?
Will there be a juried beauty contest of the candidates’ golf grips and swings, followed by a candidates putting duel on the practice putting green?
“Not even God can hit a 1-iron!” Or so said Lee Trevino :-), however Ben Hogan might disagree 🙂
Beside the “usual media suspects”, be sure and send a notice of the forum to Key West the Newspaper: Editor@thebluepaper.com.
A customer who struck up a conversation with me at Jack Flats last night turned out to have been a bartender there when Jack Flats opened in 2003. He also turned out to be a UCLA graduate, with a Masters Degree from another California college. He played safety for UCLA. His father was a college professor. He read books voraciously.
When something moved me to ask if he had read The Razor’s Edge?, he seemed to catch his breath. Why, yes. It was his all-time favorite book! He had read it maybe 30 times. I laughed, said, the lama has the fellow take all of his books up on the mountain, and while the fellow is up there he has an epiphany and burns all of his books and comes down off the mountain and goes back into the world and has himself a really fun time – not hardly, he got turned every which a way but loose.
The former UCLA grad with a masters asked what I do for work?, then, answered his own question: I practice law. I’d told him about attending law school at Alabama, after graduating from Vanderbilt, which only recently won the College Baseball World Series. I said, no, I don’t practice law any more Well, then, what is my work? I said a word. He said that was the first time he could remember not having anything to say back to someone.
I think maybe the angels will kill me if I tell here what word, so I won’t tell it, other than to say I told him he could see an example of it in yesterday’s the royal feast was not quite done when Key West sought some new sport to try to banish care, but The Code Enforcement Chief and various court jesters declined to cooperate post at goodmorningkeywest.com. And, if he wished to expand his world view, he should read The Spear of Destiny, by Trevor Ravensctoft. I said, unlike the fellow in The Razor’s Edge, who was always trying to find true knowledge in books, Trevor Ravenscroft actually knew something.
The UCLA grad with a masters said he was recently retired from bartending in Key West, and was a trust fund baby. Back when he was 18, he told his father that he wanted his inheritance then and now, and his father had replied something like, it wasn’t necessary to make a career out of being stupid. I laughed, said, many years ago, I had concluded God has no cure for stupidity. We had a big laugh.
As we were wrapping up our conversation, the UCLA grad with a masters retired bartender said he had a beautiful home in an Asian country, furnished with 650 books he had not read, and he is moving there soon, and will spend his days lying in a hammock, reading books, smoking grass, and eating pussy. I thought to myself, he knew something.
And, I wondered how “praise in public, criticize in private” School Board fossil Andy Griffiths
might feel about a UCLA grad, with a masters, making a career out of bartending and reading books and smoking grass and eating pussy? And, I wondered how Andy would feel about my having told the bar sage that it wasn’t necessary to go to college and get a masters, to become well read. It was enough to tend bar and read books, and the bar sage heartily agreed.
Personally, I’d like to do a bit more than that with pussy, but the romance gods ain’t seen fit to oblige in quite a while, which perhaps in a perfectly weird way wends me over to recent email exchanges with the former vicious Key West van dweller Hatman, now inventing new perfect storms and other fun stuff up in Jacksonville,
about my recently published correspondence with Diana Millikan,
who is from the same part of Michigan as the aspiring but soon to be expired retiree in “paradise”, Charles Eimers, sadly depicted in this Key West the Newspaper cartoon – www.thebluepaper.com.
Hatman, aka Shadharoba Rodd wrote:
hi Sloan. just from reading a little bit of Diana, I don’t care for her at all. she said that Eimers was a “union thug”. How the hell does she know anything about his autoworker days? does she have any proof that Mr. Eimers did anything in a “thug”ish way?
I don’t know, she seems to have a high opinion of herself, seems to listen only to herself. That aside, whatever Charles Eimers may or may not have been once upon a time had no bearing on the behavior of the KWPD last Thanksgiving Day.
oh, I totally agree. it’s just that Diana was using the term “thug” in a very negative connotation. I obviously never met the man and she didn’t either and yet she is accusing him of this and that. that disturbs me greatly.
Thug usually is a negative connotation. Thug is a label I could put on Diana, based on some of her carrying on in emails with me. I had a dream this afternoon, you and Robert A were in it, which left me feeling maybe I should publish some of her latest emails to me and my replies to her. I suppose I’ll know about that by dawn’s early light tomorrow.
hey Sloan. I NEVER tell people what to do; I may offer ideas, suggestions, etc I may say what I might would do, or would do, in a particular situation. So I won’t even tell you what to write. But if I were the writer, I don’t see me calling anyone, Diana?, a thug because she used a poor choice of words. Maybe she’s not a very clear-headed thinker; maybe she has an axe to grind against homeless people; perhaps she has a very limited vocabulary. Whatever.
you and another person are having an absolutely pointless argument. the other person is an idiot. what are you? answer = an idiot. Because if you know the other person is an idiot, what are you doing arguing with them? You know you can’t beat him/her; you know you can’t change their thinking.
PS. what did I do to get in your dream(s)?
I think Diana has lots of axes to grind. I haven’t picked up that she’s prejudiced against homeless people, but maybe she is. From time to time you have been in other dreams I’ve had. Diana was in a dream the other day, and I wrote about that. Lots of people I know get into my dreams from time to time. Their presence has special meaning stemming from my dealings with them, and helps me understand the dream they were in. Sometimes they speak to me, other times not. Only Robert spoke to me in this dream, you were just standing near. Both of you are vicious vehicle dweller criminals, so I take that to mean the dream involved another of your clan, that would be Charles Eimers, and the way the dream was designed around a beautiful tapestry still being worked on, and what was still missing in the interior, and on the heels of stuff passing between you and me, and Diana and me, and her dogged determination to make Charles Eimmers out to be a thug, well, it all left me feeling the dream really was about Diana and my needing to finish that tapestry. People I know coming to me in dreams with information for me has been going on a very long time. I guess some people might say that proves I’m crazy, and I might say that proves those people are crazy, then, getting themselves into my dreams :-).
Here are related excerpts from some of Diana’s and my recent emails,
even as she kept peppering me with her crusade to make Charles Eimers out to be a union thug, without any proof whatsoever, so far.
what was this all about bc the link would not open on twitter?
Key West Rental ?@MyKeyWestHouse 1 Dec 2010
‘Blue Paper’ publisher jailed on DUI charge – Key West police arrested the owner, publisher and editor of Key West T… Key West, FL
prior owner, Dennis Reeves Cooper
oh, so Blue Paper is only ‘owned’ by the French couple for a little while now?
Who will buy your GMKW? ha.
Moi? But you type better than I do.
Naja and Arnaud acquired the blue paper from Dennis Cooper maybe a year and a half ago. Cooper now sometimes writes articles they publish. He has no say so over the blue paper operation or what it publishes.
You make a lot of assumptions, in the ASS-U-ME sense. Except it’s just you in the ASS position. You may think it’s cute, but I don’t. Your attitude could use some adjusting.
I received something today from Hatman, who, unlike you, a new kid on the block trying to act like a seasoned pro, has earned the right to weigh in on matters such as the Eimers case.
He wrote to me:
hi Sloan. just from reading a little bit of Diana, I don’t care for her at all. she said that Eimers was a “union thug”. How the hell does she know anything about his autoworker days? does she have any proof that Mr. Eimers did anything in a “thug”ish way? Rodd
I replied to him:
I don’t know, she seems to have a high opinion of herself, seems to listen only to herself.
Diana, I am not remotely joking when I tell you that you are cruising for a serious bruising. I don’t want that to happen, but you seem hell-bent to make it happen.
It doesn’t matter what Charles Eimers did before he came to Key West, that does not excuse anything the KWPD did.
Personally, I am not wanting the Eimers children to recover a penny in the federal lawsuit. No amount of money will restore the loss of their father; they didn’t do anything to earn damages over his death.
However, the devil in this gig is a big $$$ damages verdict against the City of Key West, which is where the buck really stops in this case, may be the only chance, if there is even any chance, for the city and its residents to get though their thick skulls and apartheid thinking and acting that they, alone, are the reason for the big $$$ damage award, and they got just what they deserved.
If David Paul Horan is the instrument of that hard-earned just punishment, then I have no problem with him being well-paid for it. The rest of any $$$ damages, however, should, in my opinion, be donated by the Eimers children to charities which minister directly to homeless people, since their father died because the cops believed he was homeless and.
Not a chance I would sell, or give, you www.goodmorningkeywest.com. Right now, there is only one person I would give the website upon my “retirement” or “passing”, and she barely reads and writes – my backwoods north Georgia spirit-adopted daughter suffering through angel-imposed shaman training.
hahaha. oh, Rodd. (with 2 d’s) hahaha. he doesn’t like me. good. i’m not in key west to be liked. hahaha.
Sloan, union thug is used up North here just as calling a conch bubba. so there.
i’m going to bug you to sell me that gmkw. you will. but do i want it? i will bug anyway? ha.
Not interested in what you keep after up there. Zero chance you get the website.
well, you really ought to be open to all alleged union thug info that i offer you. even if what i am after is the bad about that alleged union thug. ha. here’s something – his mom’s obit – unpublished poet, jehovah witness. not necessary bad but considered spooky for up North here.
you were late with your gmkw today. with my ownership it would be out at dawn.
My publishing time varies with each day, often depending on stuff I don’t even know until I wake up and look in my email account and online. Some days I get a post out in 2-3 hours after rising in the morning, sometimes in 6-7 hours. I go through living hell for hours, even a day, even days, preparing for each day’s post, by doing the inside work required. If the angels put you inside my skin for 5 minutes, you would go insane; then, if you were lucky, you would die.
the grey cat at my banana bay hotel home is named Tormenta.
Possibly that meaning is what you do to yourself and some of
your readers – not to me though bc i am immune to torment. ha.
that big babe who spoke her 2 minutes at the PAC Meet started
out with – I am a single mom. omg why did she do that? why do babes
say that? what do they went from us upon hearing that? sympathy? pride?
she is not getting my vote. oh, i don’t vote down there – yet. bc up here
i vote bc i am a resident to claim homestead. but malheureusement MIchigan is doing away with homestead for residents. will fla do same?
i’d like to you to wake up and write gmkw about fla doing away with homestead. will you?
Start your own blog. Stop wasting my time. Your internal feminine is absent, or dead; a man in a woman’s body, you. Ask the angels to help you with that. I tried – the angels are a lot better at that, if they are inclined to do it.
humph. typical male.
You could not be more mistaken.
Now if I had gone out chasing after Diana, Hatman would have had a darn good point about me being an idiot. But that’s how what happened. Diana heard me speak at Hometown! PAC’s recent Meet the Candidates at Studios of Key West, and started chasing after me, despite my employing a variety of evasive maneuvers and skunk repellent potions. Way I look at it, and I told Diana this in an email not published above, the dratted angels who run me ragged put her in front of me, and given how terrified I am of crossing the angels, I stick it out until the angels tell me enough’s enough.
In all of the above mid-summer night’s dreamscape can be seen, or not seen, what I told the UCLA grad with a masters bartender that I do.
Meanwhile, this came in just after I published the above today.
“that old black magic had you in its spell, Key West, so God sent Charles Eimers to wake you from your comfy slumber” –
Political advertisement paid for and approved by Sloan Bashinsky, for Mayor of Key West, aka “southernmost the nut house”