Lawyer for ousted Madeira Beach city manager, clerk challenges firing

By Saundra Weathers, Reporter
(link for original article on Bay News 9)

The Madeira Beach City Commission’s meeting on May 9 had all of the makings of a tabloid talk show or, in one resident’s words, the WWE.

  • Residents, lawyer for ousted City Manager, Clerk addressed meeting
  • Resident: “We are the laughing stock of the whole area.”
  • Attorney challenged validity of previous hearing

“This is like Jerry Springer, Judge Judy, and WWE wrestling all mixed together,” he said. “Can you smell what I’m cooking?”

That comment and the behavior at recent commission meetings has some saying they’re ashamed of the city. One woman showed up with a bag of popcorn to watch the meeting.

“For the first time in 30 years I have lived here I am embarrassed to say that I live in Madeira Beach,” another resident told us. “We are the laughing stock of the whole area.”

City leaders listened to residents first about their meeting last Thursday, where commissioners voted 3 to 2 to fire the City Manager, Shane Crawford, and his wife, City Clerk Cheryl Crawford.

Moments later, they heard from the couple’s attorney, Jay Hebert. He said city leaders violated their own meeting rules and procedures when they voted to fire the couple, so they’re technically not terminated.

“Section six-point-one: charter officers, city clerk, city attorney, city treasurer — it does not include the city manager,” said Hebert. “The hearing that took place on Thursday is null and void by your own by laws.”

Newly elected Mayor Maggi Black had previously asserted that Shane Crawford undermined her and the two other newly elected commissioners. Hebert disagrees.

“The items that you have listed to call for his resignation we do not believe hold water,” said Hebert. “Six and a half million to $20 million in assets? Madeira Beach has been a better place since Shane Crawford came here.”

“They’re guilty of one thing, meeting, falling in love, asking for your permission to date and getting married,” Hebert continued. “There’s nothing in the handbook that says they can’t do that.”

Last year, Crawford asked city leaders if he could date his then-assistant. The couple married earlier this year.

Hebert said the couple is now in limbo about what to do next.

“What is the status of both my clients?” he asked. “Do we go back to work do we not go back to work? Have we been properly terminated?”

Their attorney went on to accuse the commissioners of violating sunshine laws, and said he planned to prove it. He said he’d made a public records request for city communications, and plans to use forensic technology to make sure city leaders didn’t delete any materials that may violate sunshine laws.

He even threatened to contact the state attorney general’s office with his claims.

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