Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
September 16, 2020
Fernandina Beach City Commissioners (FBCC) have traditionally favored individual, as opposed to collective, performance reviews for their three Charter Officers: the City Manager, City Attorney and City Clerk. Annual reviews are mandated by the City Charter. This year was no exception. During their September 15, 2020 Regular Meeting, Commiissioners reported the nature and gist of their evaluations to each other and the public.
Commissioner Mike Lednovich said that his evaluations were detailed and tailored to specific requirements of each job. He had discussed his evaluations with each individual and explained that they would be available to the public via the Clerk’s Office.
Commissioner Chip Ross expressed his personal view that employees be evaluated throughout the year as opposed to one, annual review. He said that he meets weekly with each Charter Officer, resolving any issues as they occur. He said that if issues canot be resolved, then that should be reflected in an annual review. “At this time, all the issues that have been important to me have been resolved,” he said. “I would just like to thank the City Clerk for doing an amazing job with all the City Commission candidates and the Proclamations. I’d also like to thank the City Attorney for providing all the legal background requested throughout the year, which is often voluminous. I believe our City Manager has done a good job reflecting and implementing the majority of the FBCC’s desires. Many of the complaints and criticisms of the City Manager are actually criticisms of the implementation of what the majority of the City Commissioners directed him to do.”
Commissioner Phil Chapman provided positive comments to all three Charter Officers. “I, too, would like to compliment the City Clerk on her preparation of Proclamations. Those are amazing.” He added that he meets with Charter Officers individually once a week. He said that Attorney Tammi Bach is a valuable asset to the City. He commended City Manager Dale Martin for tackling projects that “the City has never done before,” noting how difficult it is to bring new initiatives to the table when there are so many naysayers who weigh in. “I compliment him on his courage to at least bring these ideas forward,” Chapman said.
Vice Mayor Len Kreger also opted for written evaluations, saying that he is “not a big fan of public criticism.” He said that he believes that people should be praised in public and criticized privately. He indicated that he has raised points with both the City Manager and the City Attorney on issues than need addressing. He commended the City Clerk for “just doing an excellent job.”
Mayor John Miller agreed that the job of City Manager was “like herding cats.” He said that when he explains what the City Manager does as opposed to the Mayor, “I don’t see how he does what he does. Yet he still has a positive attitude with the FBCC. It’s a pleasure to watch him work.” He agreed with Ross that when he sees a problem, he tries to address it then, not holding it for the annual evaluation. He commended City Attorney Bach for always being available to answer any problem. He characterized her as “a calming voice.” “You are always calm, cool and collected,” Miller said. He lavished significant praise on City Clerk Caroline Best for her writing skills and her personal involvement that sets a human tone to the City Proclamations.