For four-years, Historic City News has hoped that Vice Mayor Todd Neville would make good on his campaign promise to increase transparency and accountability in city government. Since he did not qualify for re-election this year, he is officially a “lame duck”, but you wouldn’t know it given his performance at tonight’s St Augustine City Commission meeting.
Throughout the meeting, Neville ticked off a mental list as the city manager, John Regan, turned in his usual lackluster performance. Regan has been city manager since May 26, 1998 and has become more complacent each year. Commission members have refused to write meaningful yearly evaluations; or, in at least once case, refused to write anything – at all – that describes how the $164,000+ annual-salaried employee, who also receives enhanced employee benefits, is performing on the job.
Pointed out by Neville tonight were the following poor management incidents:
1. Placing presentations from department heads and staff members on the agenda for commission meetings; yet, when the item comes on for discussion, presenters are absent, or unprepared to answer questions, or the presentation material is incomplete or riddled with errors.
2. Unprofessional use of public and social media to disparage a local family who have been stalled in negotiations with city staff for years, as they’ve tried to obtain approval of a development plan to rebuild the Santa Maria Restaurant over the Matanzas Bay.
3. Failure to manage insurance placement, revealing a letter Friday to the city manager from Matt Baker; the president of ThompsonBaker Agency whose father, Gregg Baker, is a former mayor. After nearly two-years of property damage and workers compensation coverage, during Hurricane Matthew and Hurricane Irma, the 93-year-old insurance agency wrote to say that they will not respond to the request for the renewal of the city’s insurance policies. They cited “an evaluation of circumstances and the bid specifications” and a copy of the letter was sent by Baker to each commissioner and the mayor.
Neville previously called for the commission to begin a search for a replacement city manager. That discussion went nowhere. We are continuing to follow the story this week.