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Palm Coast Tuesday, Sep. 19, 2017 1 year ago

In 3-2 vote, council decides not to fire city manager before retirement

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The process by which City Manger Jim Landon will be replaced will take about two years — taking him to the time frame in which he hopes to retire.
by: Jonathan Simmons News Editor

Palm Coast’s City Council has gone back and forth on how to handle the contract of City Manager Jim Landon. Now they’ve decided: They’ll keep him on for an extended replacement process that will end around the time in which he’d hoped to retire anyway — in about two years.

That was the conclusion from a workshop the council held weeks ago without a formal vote. 

Councilman Steve Nobile, the councilman who has pushed hardest to see Landon replaced, said in a meeting that he wasn’t satisfied with that conclusion. He thought the process should be faster, and suggested the board move to fire Landon in 60 days. 

Landon protested, saying he thought the council had already made its decision. Nobile countered that the decision wasn’t final without a vote. 

Now it’s final: Nobile’s proposal to speed Landon’s replacement process failed 3-2 in a Sept. 19 City Council meeting, with only Nobile and Councilwoman Heidi Shipley voting in favor; Mayor Milissa Holland and Council members Nick Klufas and Bob Cuff voted against.

Before the vote, Landon cautioned the council that the replacement process would take time anyway — at least about a year.

And, he told them, firing him might also cause his subordinates to leave.

“This just isn’t about me,” he said. “That’s a reflection of them also,” he said, gesturing to the department-level city staff employees seated at the rear of the room. “This whole idea of actually cutting loose the leader of these individuals — they take it hard. And I am very fearful … we’re going to lose them as a result of this process.”

Nobile was unconvinced. 

“First of all, we’re talking about years,” he said. “So are you telling me in two years these people are leaving?”

“My issue with this scenario is not Mr. Landon,” Nobile continued. “It’s about logistics, because we are moving forward. … The city manager is stating he may retire in two years. I’m stating that’s a bad time. We are going to be, first, in the middle of an election when we’re going through this process; second, we may potentially have two new council members … who will have to pick a new manager, without any experience. … All we’re talking about is a time frame: Does it happen now, or does it happen two years from now?”

Shipley agreed. 

“I think that we can make this quicker,” she said. Landon’s suggestion that staff might leave if he’s dismissed, she said, is “kind of like a threat — saying ‘If I’m leaving, everybody’s leaving.’ … It didn’t take that long to find Jim Landon. … It just needs to go faster.”

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