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Flagler Beach’s Steve Settle Will Again Attempt to Appoint Bruce Campbell Manager

| April 12, 2011

Bruce Campbell, in the foreground, is still the executive-in-waiting as the Flagler Beach City Commission ponders his fate. Drew Smith, the city's attorney, is sitting next to Campbell. On the dais, from left: Marshall Shupe, Steve Settle, John Feind, Jane Mealy, Kim Carney, and Mayor Alice Baker. (© FlaglerLive)

Bruce Campbell, in the foreground, is still the executive-in-waiting as the Flagler Beach City Commission ponders his fate. Drew Smith, the city's attorney, is sitting next to Campbell. On the dais, from left: Marshall Shupe, Steve Settle, John Feind, Jane Mealy, Kim Carney, and Mayor Alice Baker. (© FlaglerLive)

Flagler Beach City Commissioner Steve Settle thinks it’s time his city tender a formal offer to Bruce Campbell to hire him as its city manager. He’ll make a motion to do so at Thursday’s commission meeting. The timing isn’t coincidental. When Campbell was interviewing last year, he submitted a 12-point, 100-day plan of what he’d accomplish in his first three months on the job. Settle says most of those goals have either been accomplished or set in motion in the 100 days or so Campbell has been in the top job.

“There’s a general consensus in the community that he’s done an outstanding job,” Settle said on Tuesday.

Campbell has been the acting manager since January, at an annual salary of $90,000. He’s lacked the four-vote majority he needs from the five-member commission to get the permanent appointment. He may still lack that majority even with two new members on the commission—Kim Carney and Marshall Shupe—both of whom said on the campaign trail that they support Campbell as permanent manager.

Commission Chairman John Feind and Commissioner Jane Mealy opposed Campbell’s permanent appointment based on his lack of executive leadership in government (Campbell’s executive experience is in the private sector), and because they are uneasy with the populism behind Campbell’s candidacy. Since last summer, a large group of Flagler Beach residents organized and petitioned the city to hire Campbell. His supporters have often sat in commission meetings when his fate was discussed, alternately cheering, jeering and heckling commissioners, depending on each member’s position. It’s often been an indecorous scene, alienating a majority of the previous commission until Joy McGrew, then still a commissioner, agreed to switch votes and give Campbell a temporary shot at the job as an acting manager.

Interviewed in mid-March about Campbell, Mealy said she was “feeling better” about him, but was not ready to answer” whether she would support him for a permanent appointment. “He’s working very hard,” mealy conceded. Campbell and Mealy appeared as a team this week before the Flagler County Commission to lobby for support for a resolution against the Florida Department of Transportation’s planned seawall for a stretch of shore in Flagler Beach. The joint appearance may have been coincidental. When the Flagler Beach commission needs an emissary before other governments, Mealy is often volunteers. It could also have been a signal that Mealy is more comfortable with Campbell. On Wednesday, Mealy said she had not changed her mind about Campbell, compared with where she was several months ago. She confirmed that the joint appearance was, in fact, coincidental.

Feind, who prizes consensus on the commission, dismissed the notion that he would abandon his opposition to Campbell’s permanent appointment just to move the commission past the matter. “My position is status quo,” Feind said when asked about Campbell, also in mid0-March. “I feel the enw people have to have time to make up their mind. I don’t see how anybody could make a decision without having worked with him.” He specified: “I haven’t changed my mind. I’m not against him, I’m not for him, but time will tell, and eventually it’ll play itself out.”

Feind suggested that a decision may wait until after budget season, when Campbell will have had a chance to show how he deals with that delicate matter. (Numbers are one of Campbell’s strengths.)

Asked about Settle’s coming proposal, Campbell was reserved in an interview Tuesday, saying he preferred not to weigh in on the matter, including Settle’s suggestions that Campbell might forego a severance package and a car allowance and accept a lower salary, in the $70,000 range, making his appointment that much more attractive. Settle was basing his assumptions on what he said he’d heard Campbell say during Campbell’s two interviews with the commission last summer.

But Settle, who agrees that all numbers are subject to contract negotiations, may be making assumptions about what sort of contract Campbell is willing to accept.

“It’s never been discussed with me,” Campbell said of what he would or would not accept. “I can’t agree to something before I’m asked.” He said he hadn’t had any conversations about the matter with commissioners. “Until it’s time to talk specifics I have no specifics.” It would be highly unusual for a top executive to take a permanent job without a severance package.

Settle’s motion is built around what he terms “four compelling reasons” why Campbell’s appointment should be made permanent. The first is that since, according to Settle, Campbell would demand no severance, “there is absolutely no adverse consequence” should the commission decide to fire him. It takes four votes to hire a manager permanently. It only takes three to fire one. Second, Campbell’s appointment would be financially “prudent,” since Campbell isn’t asking for a lavish salary. Third, Campbell “has more than adequately demonstrated a core competence” for the job, and that he “far exceeds the minimum qualifications necessary to perform the job,” Settle writes.

Settle concludes: “It is a very bad situation to have an acting city manager that can be held hostage by any one or more of five commissioners, or any particular segment of the diverse coalition that supported Mr. Campbell. A city manager must be able to serve without a sword hanging above his head; without threats of withdrawal of support or undue influence from any group of citizens or individual elected officials. Again, if a majority of the Commission disagrees with any particular action of Mr. Campbell, they can remove him with a simple majority vote.”

A sword always hangs above a city or county manager’s head, however, precisely because as Settle notes at the beginning of his memo, it only takes three votes to remove that manager. The situation in Flagler Beach has nevertheless been unusual, in so far as anything is unusual in Flagler Beach politics: Campbell’s predecessor—not counting Caryn Miller, who briefly served as acting manager—Bernie Murphy, served five years in the interim post of city manager, because he lives in Ormond Beach and the city charter forbids the city manager from living outside the city limits.

The city commission has a packed agenda Thursday, including discussion–and possible, final passage–of the proposed new lease for the Pier Restaurant with Ray Barshay, discussion of the bait shop at the pier, and talk about the agenda for a May 19 town hall meeting the city is organizing in opposition to the seawall.

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8 Responses for “Flagler Beach’s Steve Settle Will Again Attempt to Appoint Bruce Campbell Manager”

  1. lawabidingcitizen says:

    While neither for or nor against Mr. Campbell’s appointment, it’s clear to me that no one, however competent and willing, can do a good job while there is this juvenile infighting among commission members.

    It’s not clear that Commissioner Settle, no matter how well meaning, is doing any of us a favor by bringing the matter of Campbell’s appointment to a head at this time, especially as Commissiner Mealy’s diva persona has become a parody. She should resign before she does further damage to our fair little city.

    Commissioner Feind’s behavior is, as always, incomprehensible — both should be replaced at the earliest opportunity.

  2. R B Fowler says:

    beachside resident:
    I agree with lawabiding taxpayers and all above. Captain Feid must have directed a Keystone Cop Academy. Maybe his name was Mubble Stumble Feind. Dictator Mealy is now wearing micro-management shoes of R. Bush. It appears that the “block” vote is Shupe, Feind & Mealey. Thanks Marshall – a breath of fresh air you are not! Oh! Thanks alot Mr. Ed K. for bringing this guy to the table. Agree- Mealy should resign… no matter how high she stacks her file, it does not make her an authority or have the right to continuously talk down to tax paying citizens. John can not make a decision if his life depended on it. These 2 should go while Shupe may shape up. This bunch can’t fool the citizens.

  3. curious says:

    You all are unbelievable!!!!! NOTHING has happened in FB since Caryn Miller left. All of the progress has been halted…. Campbell has no clue how to run a city. The City has suffered under Campbells’ reign and has moved backward instead of forward. Bring Ms Miller back and see what the City can be!!!!! It is a sad state of afairs when people think he is worth it. He has blundered everything he has attempted and alianated a good staff. SHAME ON YOU STEVE SETTLE!!! Oh yeah, it is obvious Campbell is still campaigning for an appointed job. Again, he has no clue!!!!!

    Bravo Jane and John!!!!!!

  4. Taxed says:

    I just want to know what is in it for Settle’s to keep pushing for Campbell? Look, Campbell is making 90K I don’t see him complaining about his title. All it would be is a title change. By this article Mr. Settle’s said, Campbell would take a pay cut and not accept a severance package and Campbell responded, it is highly unusual for a top executive to not accept a severance package. That tells me he will not take a pay cut or give up on having a severance package if he was appointed by the commission. One way to see if he is doing a good job or not. Poll his subordinates that have worked in direct contact with Mr. Campbell. They will let you know how good or bad he is as a top executive, if there is no chance of a direct backlash from expressing their opinions. Most times you will not find out due to the fear of losing their jobs.

  5. John Smith says:

    Yes I thought that was kind of funny also that Settles is telling everyone what Campbell will accept and Campbell is saying wait a minute. I suppose there will be another petition signed by all of Campbells supporters again being shoved down the commissions throat. This is getting to be a disgrace lets just get on with the process and select a manager and get this bickering over with. You the group still don’t get it the block vote is not Shupe it is Mealy or Fiend. It is one of their votes that has to change before Shupes vote will mean anything. So until you get that done you might give Shupe a chance without crying because he is not representing a group of people but representing the whole town of people. You are doing a good job Shupe.

  6. curious says:

    Taxed, I agree with you. After the meeting it is obvious that Campbell should not remain as Acting Manager.Tthis City needs to move forward and hire a competent Manager. The Commission gave him a carrot just to please the Art Woosleys of the world and stop the obvious campaign for an appointed position by Campbell. I still say the following: Miller brought a lot to this City and was treated like dirt by the Commission. Now they have lost her and everything is on a standstill. Maybe the Commission has enough guts now to call her and humbily ask her to return. I suggest that the citizens look VERY closely at the CRA and its ativities and expenses. Campbell will probably bring the CRA down and leave the City in a more precarious situation since he has no clue of what he is doing. No one in their right mind would speak against him for fear to lose their job. I voted for Schuppe because I believed he would do the right thing and get rid of Campbell. I am once again disappointed.
    MOVE ON and have some GUTS COMMISSIONERS. You owe Campbell NOTHING!!!!

  7. HSART says:

    With All theNegative things Going on in our World Today, The Issue of Finding a Competent City Manager for our Small City of Flagler Beach Apperars to be a Larger Problem than any of us residents could imagine! My Wife and I are not on the computor that often, but we have been asked by our neighbors to watch this website, it is very good at keeping us informed of whats going on in our Community! We dont have the time to attend City meetings, but if we did we have some Questions that appear unanswered. #1 When our City MGR. left, why wasnt the,”assistant” City Mgr. put in that Posistion??? Moving Foward we have Mrs. Miller appointed as “Acting” City Mgr, Doing a Fine Job according to all involed, Oh but Wait She,s Removed and Replaced!! By Whom You ask, Certinally by now we are Sure we have the Best Qualified Aplicant for the Job, his or her job experience in City or County Government Must be Impecable!! OH Wait, Did someone Say NO, Nadda, Zero, Not one inclination of Government Experience??? Prediction Number one, While the “ACTING” City Mgr, is in Office, Any Type of Purchases will Cease if its an amount that Requires his or Her Signiture! Im sure the Goal will be to look at what was Spent Prior and Try to Show us what was not after said Appointment! We LOVE our City, the Contraversy Regarding the Fiasco is getting OLD!! We are Pleading with all of the Elected Commisioners to Find a Well Qualified City Mgr, Our Current City Services are Very Satisfactory,we have a Feeling things may Change for the Worse, if this issue is not Addressed ASAP!! GOODBYE :ACTING” HELLO CITY MGR.!!!!!

  8. John Smith says:

    HSART you are very correct. That is EXACTLY what he is doing. My inside info is that he is refusing the depts. to use what money they may have to repair or purchase new equipment to make the job done for the better. There is 5 months left on this budget and the price of gas and diesel skyrocketing has already put the depts. in the red not there spending for needed materials to work with. AND YOU ARE VERY OBSERVANT IN SEEING THIS BEING DONE BY HIM SO HE AND HIS FOLLOWERS CAN SAY SEE I AM THE PERFECT MAN FOR THE JOB. NOT, NOWAY, NOHOW. The services in this town are doing there best for what they get paid and without getting a raise over the last 3 and probably the 4th yr they seem to be very loyal to the city by staying here. He is tying there hands with being so reluctant to work with them on items they need. Some say ok we can outsource, well doing that the city loses all control and who ever does the job will not be answering to the city because they do not have to its just a job. Plus it will increase and everyone will pay more. Oh WAIT A MINUTE IF WE DID NOT HAVE ANY SERVICES WE WOULD NOT NEED A CITY MANAGER OR COMMISSION THAT MIGHT JUST BE THE TICKET. PAY MORE FOR LESS.

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