Tampabay Times: Embattled Madeira Beach commission suspends manager, fires clerk

By Sheila Mullane Estrada, Times Correspondent
Thursday, May 4, 2017 10:12pm (click for link)

MADEIRA BEACH —Days after the legitimacy of a recent city election was called into question, the Madeira Beach City Commission suspended the city manager and fired the city clerk.

Newly elected Mayor Maggi Black did not give a precise reason for suspending City Manager Shane Crawford and triggering the termination process Thursday, saying only that he did not support the commission.

Crawford had asked the city attorney to investigate the validity of the March election because one of the commissioners who voted the hold it, Housh Ghovaee, was unseated for a Sunshine Law violation.

The 3-2 vote to suspend Crawford made longtime Commissioner Terry Lister so angry that he ripped up a copy of the resolution, threw it on the floor and stormed out.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Validity of Madeira Beach election called into question

Later, commissioners voted to fire clerk Cheryl Crawford, a veteran administrator who recently married Shane Crawford. They did not give a reason for the firing, though at a previous meeting, Commissioner Nancy Oakley had said she did not want a clerk who did lacked certification.

After the vote, Cheryl Crawford asked to read a statement. “Quite honestly,” she said, “as much as you don’t want me as your city clerk, please know I consider none of you three worthy of my dedication and support.”

She picked up her things and left.

It all happened in front of a packed house at City Hall.

At the start of the three-hour meeting, Black insisted the March election was valid because state law requires any challenge to be filed within 10 days. Residents in the audience booed, shouted and threatened to sue.

Black also recommended that former acting City Manager Jim Madden return to the position. But a city attorney shot down that suggestion, saying that it was improper to bring up business not on the agenda.

The city has been deeply divided over issues of development. Black, Oakley and Commissioner John Douthirt ran as a ticket in opposition to actions by the previous commission.

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