Suanne Z Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
The Fernandina Beach City Commission did its own imitation of the Energizer Bunny on June 5, 2012 as it met for more than 4 hours without a break. Even so, commissioners did not outlast their audience of 20 or so, most of whom stayed until Mayor Filkoff gaveled the meeting to an end at 10:12 p.m.
City Clerk Mary Mercer administered the oath to newly appointed city manager Joe Gerrity, whose contract was not approved until an hour and a half into the meeting, but not without some questions. Mayor Arlene Filkoff asked about a provision in the contract that appeared to hold Mr. Gerrity to the professional code of ethics of the International City/County Managers Association (ICMA), when Mr. Gerrity is not a member of that association. She said that both the city attorney and the city clerk were bound by ethical standards of their respective professional organizations; she wanted a similar code for the city manager. City attorney Tammi Bach added that all elected and appointed officials are covered by ethics provisions in the state code. Bach clarified that the language in the proposed contract binding Gerrity to the ICMA code of ethics was conditional upon his being a member of that organization. Mr. Gerrity replied that he had just received an application for membership in the Florida City and County Management Association and that he would be bound by their ethical code. Mayor Filkoff said that she wants to revisit establishing a code of ethics for the Fernandina Beach City Commission. The 2007 Charter Review Committee had proposed such a code, but the commission at the time rejected it.
Commissioner Tim Poynter indicated that he would not support the proposed contract for Mr. Gerrity because he believed the $103,000 salary was excessive. But he emphasized that his vote was not to be interpreted as a lack of support for Mr. Gerrity in the position of City Manager. The contract was approved on a 4-1 vote, with Poynter dissenting.
At the end of the meeting during commissioner remarks, Mayor Filkoff spent some time responding to those who have been critical of her decision to approve the appointment and salary of Mr. Gerrity. She circled back to statements she made during her campaign for commission, citing the need to set aside personal agendas and come together for the good of the city. She said that she has spoken with Mr. Gerrity and frankly told him that he was not her first or second choice for the job. Mr. Gerrity nodded in agreement. But that it was clear that he was the first choice of three commissioners.“Therefore he is our choice,” she said.
June 7, 2012 4:17 p.m.