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Palm Coast Wednesday, Jul. 19, 2017 2 years ago

City Council will hold meeting to discuss replacing City Manager Jim Landon

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Landon has been Palm Coast's city manager since February 2007.
by: Jonathan Simmons News Editor

Palm Coast’s City Council is considering firing longtime City Manager Jim Landon, who has served in his position since 2007.

The council decided at its July 18 meeting to schedule a special meeting to discuss the proposal.

The discussion at the July 18 meeting followed the July 14 publication of a story on FlaglerLive.com that stated that four council members — none of them named individually in the FlaglerLive story — told FlaglerLive they wanted a new direction.

Under the state’s open government law, called the Sunshine Law, council members are barred from discussing with one another, outside of the setting of a public government meeting, public matters on which they may hold a vote.

So when the council members arrived at their meeting July 18, they knew from the FlaglerLive story that a number of their colleagues want Landon gone, but they had not had an opportunity to discuss the issue with each other.

Council member Bob Cuff brought the issue up in his comments at the end of the meeting.

“I think the appropriate place for that discussion is a duly noticed public meeting where we can all be present, and we can address each other and our concerns and what action we want to take or don’t want to take,” Cuff said. “I am not taking any exception to the story, but as I have said many times, and probably will say many times more before my term is up: I am not a fan of T-shirt politics,” in which residents all show up to meetings wearing the same color of T-shirt to show support or opposition on an issue. “I’d be happy to take your position into consideration, but I don’t represent 50 people who all have 10 bucks to buy the same color T-shirt; I represent 83-something-thousand residents, the businesses, the employees of those businesses, the workers here in City Hall, and — dare I say it — even Mr. Landon, our current city manager,” Cuff said. “So whatever the City Council proposes to do on this issue, my comments are that we do it with reasonable dispatch but that we do it in an orderly and legally appropriate manner.”

But Cuff issued a warning: “What we do will affect not just Mr. Landon and his contract, but our ability to find a replacement for Mr. Landon when that time comes, whenever that is,” he said. “If we get the reputation of being a city that has a knee-jerk reaction to one news story and 84 mostly anonymous comments, we are not going to get the quality of city manager applicants that the city deserves and we need to take over the reins whenever Mr. Landon leaves.”

“Full disclosure: About two months ago, I went into Mr. Landon’s office and I said, ‘Mr. Landon I think it’s time for a change,’” Councilman Steve Nobile said at the July 18 meeting. “He then asked that he speak with his wife, and then of course he had to speak with individual council members.”

Nobile also wanted a special workshop, “just so we can speak to each other.”

“My opinion is that it is time for a refresh in that position,” Nobile said. “And again, I want to say: It does not reflect on a single thing that occurred. I came in with that idea, that it was time to refresh this position. And like I said, it is not a reflection on, ‘Mr. Landon did one thing bad, or did these five things bad,’ it’s just time for this council and for the city to have someone that they can call their own: ‘This is the guy that we picked, this is the guy that we chose and that we need to have and that we’d like to have.’”

Councilman Nick Klufas also supported holding a special session.

“I think we can’t overreact just to one news story that was posted, and I would also appreciate the opportunity to discuss my opinions with everyone,” he said.

Palm Coast Mayor Milissa Holland agreed with her colleagues on the need for a special workshop. “This is a decision that we make as a council on who is our manager and who represents us legally, so we take these issues and discussions very seriously,” she said.

She asked Landon to schedule it.

“Good, sounds great, I look forward to it,” Landon replied. “First of all I, totally concur; I’m looking forward to getting the true story instead of some of the fiction and some of the rumors and misinformation out there, so I look forward to that.”

Landon told the Observer that his mention of “fiction” and “misinformation” was in reference to rumors he'd heard and not to the FlaglerLive story, which he said he had not read. He declined to comment further on the issue. Landon is paid a base salary of $175,600, plus benefits.

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