BRADENTON BEACH -- Bradenton Beach officials gathered Monday at City Hall for a special meeting expected to begin a mayoral forfeiture of office proceeding in the small Anna Maria Island city.
On Sept. 16, Vice Mayor Jack Clarke presented an eight-page complaint against Mayor Bill Shearon, claiming he has failed in day-to-day city operations and has not lived up to the "faith and trust" given him by the commission. Clarke said the mayor has made poor decisions and often blames the commission.
"The mayor claims this commission has tied his hands," said Clarke. "I submit, Mr. Mayor, it is you who has tied the hands of this city with more lawsuits, public records requests, hostile work environment claims and all-around poor morale. This trust has eroded over the past 300 days as I have seen nothing but failures, disrespect, outbursts and problems."
A second meeting was tentatively scheduled for Oct. 6 where a vote is expected on whether to begin the procedure to oust the mayor.
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"The whole thing was kind of disturbing," said Shearon. "There were a lot of concerns listed but, from my perspective, no real facts. Unfortunately nobody is going to win and a lot of things we started up are going to be slowed down and crippled because of this."
Ward 4 Commissioner Jan Vosburgh, in a heated election race with Shearon's live-in girlfriend, Tjet Martin, said the mayor is crippling the city.
"The city is in a mess and needs to be fixed," she said. "The mayor is a bully and it's been awful. All of the employees, with the exception of one or two, are unhappy."
Evidence includes three harassment complaints filed by city workers. Shearon hired a labor attorney to review the complaints and said he has not yet seen the report.
Ward 3 Commissioner Janie Robertson said there is a valid reason some employees are unhappy.
"The complaints stem from public works, where employees had credit cards with $10,000 limits," said Robertson. "That led to hundreds of thousands of dollars in bills that had no oversight from the prior administration."
Robertson said she supports the mayor and credits him with saving the city financially, but also believes due diligence should follow any complaint, but not at any cost.
"I won't support any action that is going to cost taxpayer dollars," she said.
The swing vote could be Ward 2 Commissioner Ed Straight, who said he wasn't sure if ousting the mayor was necessary, but agreed the environment needed to change.
Vosburgh said the mayor has an anger problem and cited two incidents:
Shearon stormed out of a city commission meeting weeks ago.
On another occasion he slammed the gavel so hard it broke the wooden stand.
Vosburgh said a third incident last week forced her to leave a meeting "because he was in such a rage. There are plenty of things I could do with my life besides being a commissioner. I feel morally obligated to stay on as commissioner, but he takes all of the joy out of this job with his anger."
Shearon said he has had to deal with more than any other mayor.
"I admit I get frustrated," he said. "It's not just one issue, it's a whole bunch of issues. If I'm gruff or mean, tell me a different way to do things. I'm into team spirit, not running a dictatorship."
Shearon said he is hopeful the commission can come together, but he isn't changing for anyone.
"Most of it is they don't like the way I do things," he said. "But they don't tell me what their issues are and more importantly, they don't give me a solution."
He said his hope is city officials will "get it all out, cleaned up and get it done. But you either get on my train, and if not, we aren't going to get anywhere."
Mark Young, Herald urban affairs reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7041 or follow him on Twitter@urbanmark2014.