BRADENTON BEACH -- City officials voted unanimously Thursday to terminate the city clerk after Mayor William Shearon said she failed to follow through on time-sensitive city business and failed to inform staff when she missed work.
Gia Lancaster, 47, was terminated during an emergency city commission meeting. Terri Sanclemente was voted in as city clerk pro tempore and will resume Lancaster's duties while the commission decides how to move forward with staffing.
Lancaster was bonded out of Manatee County Jail Wednesday after being charged with battery on a law enforcement officer at 8:24 p.m. Tuesday.
According to Bradenton police, Lancaster tried to evict people who had been paying to stay at her home. Lancaster reportedly became belligerent and charged at an officer who had been called to the scene. A witness said Lancaster had been drinking all day, according to a report.
Never miss a local story.
Hours before she was arrested, Lancaster had attended an employee counseling session at 3 p.m. with Shearon and city attorney Ricinda Perry in the mayor's office. Although Lancaster had told Perry she wanted to have an attorney present, she did not bring one with her to the session.
"Mayor Shearon opened the meeting with a brief statement that the purpose was to provide for better communication and to address some concerns regarding the work performance of Ms. Lancaster, specifically her availability during City business hours," said a memorandum prepared by Perry for the commissioners.
According to the memorandum, Lancaster did not report to work on Wednesday, did not inform staff of her absence and did not contact Shearon.
It is unclear if the reason Lancaster missed work was because she was still in jail.
Lancaster did not respond to requests from the Herald for comment.
Her firing comes at a time when the mayor himself is embattled in an effort by some commissioners who want to oust him.
"My recommendation is to terminate the employment of Gia Lancaster," Shearon told commissioners Thursday.
As officials discussed her fate, Lancaster sat in the back of the room with her arms crossed. She chose not to speak during the public-comment section of the meeting.
Perry said she had received a text message from Lancaster at 7:53 a.m. Thursday. The city attorney hesitated before reading the message, which said Lancaster was coming to work Thursday and that she would be representing herself at the meeting.
"I could not call anyone yesterday as I was physically assaulted," said Perry, reading the text message. "That is all I can say under investigation. Gia."
Commissioners were given a breakdown of Lancaster's offenses, which included leaving a Government in the Sunshine class meeting in which the commission participated on a recent Friday. Perry said the city clerk did not return until the conclusion of the meeting.
"I'm not the city clerk. I am not the city manager," Shearon said. "Gia's been given full rein to run her department the way she sees fit, and unfortunately, with this time gap ... it's just not acceptable."
After she was terminated, Lancaster immediately left the room.
Amaris Castillo, law enforcement/island reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7051. Follow her on Twitter@AmarisCastillo.