Bruce Campbell has had it with the Flagler Beach City Commission. Addressing his five bosses more bluntly than he has at any point in his four years as their city manager, if not contemptuously, Cambpell told them he is not interested in another contract, he is not interested in further extensions of his month-to-month arrangement, and that would be quitting at the end of September. He’ll be 59 then. He capped his drop-dead announcement with a command to the commission: “Get on with it.”
Campbell had first announced his resignation almost a year ago—last October—when he said he was looking to retire. But he did so the wrong way in Flagler Beach: he gave commissioners no deadline. He merely said that he would not renegotiate his contract, giving the commission ample room to do to him what it did to its previous manager, Bernie Murphy, whose “interim” term as manager was strung out to five years before Murphy finally said he’d be out the door whatever the commission did.
Campbell made his announcement at the end of last Thursday’s city commission meeting in an almost empty room but for the five commissioners and what was left of city staff and an attorney. He was prompted by Commission Chairman Marshall Shupe’s attempt to… renegotiate Campbell’s contract.
“I’m going to try it one more time, I don’t know if it’s consensus, I don’t know what,” Shupe said, “but I think we need to put our city manager on paper. I think we need to have a contract, and I think with budget hearings and all the other reasons that we’ve said over and over again, what he does, if he wants a contract, I think we should sit down and give him a contract.”
“Didn’t we agree that we were going to evaluate him and then do a contract?” Commissioner Jane Mealy said.
“I didn’t know that we agreed on an evaluation,” Shupe.
Campbell sat silent, as he has increasingly in the past year and especially after he returned from open-heart surgery in spring, following heart trouble. But not long afterward he decided to speak.
“I really appreciate your effort to try to make something happen,” he told commissioners. “If the truth were known, I wouldn’t be here tonight if it weren’t for Marshal asking me to stay this past year. So I don’t want to sound like I’m not appreciative. But this is all to me maybe a little bit too little too late. So I guess what I’d like to say tonight is, I really suggest that you start looking for another city manager. I’ll get you through the budget process.”
Campbell said he’d get the commission through its next workshop and two public hearings on the budget.
The he said, his phrases coming in staccato as he seemed to struggle to get the words out: “I plan on leaving the end of September, and I don’t want to make a big deal out of this. It’s obviously emotional for me. I appreciate the opportunity, but this keeps going on and on and on and on. So. Thank you. I’ll help you any way I can. Get on with it.”
Commissioners then discussed what to do next: not launching a search or advertising the position, but discussing how they might get when they might have a workshop to discuss how they’ll go about conducting the search. They’d held one after Campbell had made his original announcement, but it amounted to asking a staffer to draw up a job description. In the 10 months since Campbell told commissioners he wanted to leave, they’ve not advertised or in any way announced the city’s intention to replace him.
The city faces other challenges. As Campbell’s tenure wore on, two positions—the director of the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency and the head of the building department—left. Campbell took on their responsibilities, with just a 10 percent of his $90,000 salary contributed by the CRA fund. The commission has talked about merging those positions into the manager’s job description.
The only thing commissioners agreed to regarding Campbell’s succession was to meet in workshop on Aug. 6 at 3 p.m.
The commission’s last go-around in search of a manager was a drawn-out affair that lasted nearly a year, starting with an application pool of 140 candidates, and featured numerous meetings that devolved into partisan bickering and recriminations, not least because Campbell’s name was in the ring: the process divided commissioners between those who wanted to hire a candidate from outside the city, and one who had government experience, as opposed to commissioners who favored Campbell—at the time a city maintenance employee better known to residents as the guy who mowed lawns and repaired stuff—and his private-sector experience. The hiring phase more often reflected the divisive atmosphere of election campaigns than administrative hires, with residents going so far as organizing a petition drive on Campbell’s behalf. The process was not without embarrassing episodes, too.
But Campbell’s hiring was then followed by four years of relative political and financial stability unusual for Flagler Beach, not least because Campbell had found a way to manage commissioners despite their quirks and some of their initial resistance to him. Mealy, who had opposed hiring him almost until the end (she switched vote only for the final vote, when it became clear Campbell would be the choice and she wanted the decision to be unanimous), developed an effective working relationship with him. On the other hand, Commissioner Kim Carney, who had supported hiring him—her first election campaign straddled that year of decision—became his strongest critic and antagonist.
Campbell himself, it’s become clear, has had enough.
Good for him!
THE VOICE OF REASON says
Bruce was one of the first people I met when I moved to Flagler Beach in 2009.
I’d see him every morning as I sat by the pier, watching the ocean and he would come by to check the condition of the walkovers. He always greeted me with a smile and was more welcoming than many locals who ignore you until you become a regular part of the landscape.
He made me feel welcome from the start. Good man. Let him get on with his life.
Rick Belhumeur says
The Flagler Beach City Manager not only took on the rolls of CRA Director and Building Department Head but has also assumed some responsibilities of what used to be the Police Chief and the Fire Chief when those positions were eliminated. Replacing him will not be an easy task to accomplish in two months. This is one duty that the the commission can’t pass on to staff.
I wish Mr. Campbell a happy retirement, filled with many years of leisure and good health.
Perhaps he’ll learn to smile again with intensive smile therapy. Remember: “no pain – no gain!”
FB Insider says
It’s funny how people have blinders on when it comes to certain things. Bruce Campbell is being portrayed as some kind of God in the City Manager’s Office. Well let’s review a few things in his short tenure:
He should have been replaced when his water meter was discovered to have been altered, resulting in the meter rolling backwards. Coincidentally the same time he had a pool and new landscaping? Guess he was nice enough to “donate” water back to the city?
How about when he had several loads of boardwalk materials owned by the city stored on his property; citing it as “storage”. Did anyone account for the inventory?
How about when Fire Captain Pace was being CRIMINALLY CHARGED and Campbell was (admittedly) at the State Attorney’s Office trying to get them to not pursue criminal charges? How about when he admittedly tried to coerce the former Police Chief into not pressing charges?
How about when he attempted to force a former fire inspector to pass a business that was not up to code that was owned by a friend? That fire inspected resigned due the pressure of the illegal and unethical request.
What about the same City Manager who was renting property to a city employee? No conflict there, right?
Wait, that SAME EMPLOYEE was arrested in Volusia County for a DUI while still in CITY WORK CLOTHES and who posted bail? The one and only B.C. because if said employee wasn’t at work DRIVING CITY VEHICLES the next day, ole’ B.C. wasn’t getting his rent money!
When he came to Florida from Ohio and began purchasing property, he was doing so under the blanket of a defunct company out of Ohio and was issues several cease an desists orders by the State of Florida but continued to do so anyway.
I could go on for hours. This guy is the biggest con in Flagler Beach City Hall. The employees are ALL glad he is leaving so they aren’t all on egg shells anymore wondering what illegal, immoral and/or unethical request he is going to put in front of them next. This guy puts on a smile in public and behind the scenes has ruined more lives and put more stress on employees than any other city manager in FB history.
How about if your going to run your damned mouth with these allegations you man up and put your name to your post instead of hiding behind a fake identity?
FB Insider says
Like you did?
Tom Dooly says
Please go on Fb insider. I Can Listen For Hours I’m retired! Why do you hide behind a phony name? If you have facts please back them up. Let’s see them.You lost. Bruce has done a good job for the city considering people like you don’t even run for office or vote (so who cares?); but always complain here on a blog. Oh that’s right; gotta hide. Been in this county for over 30 years and EVERY city employee that I spoke with (over 10 for now and counting;some have been on the job for well over 10 years) has nothing but good things to say unlike you; ever since those firefighters got busted for drinking on the job and driving a city vehicle after they have been drinking.Which is about the time you came out from under “your rock”. I only know 2 employees that have quit since he took over and that’s because they found “greener pastures’. Wish them well. So if what you say about the city employees is REALLY TRUE then the city employees should have quit by now? So please continue ain’t nobody listening to you anyway.You lost; so PLEASE give it a rest and move on with your life if you have one left? You will feel a lot better when and if you move on with your life. Holding grudges and hiding won’t get you nowhere. God bless you and your hurtful soul.
Can’t blame him for wanting out of that horror show.