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City Auditor and Clerk Pamela Nadalini
Sarasota Monday, Jan. 7, 2019 11 months ago

City asks auditor and clerk to resign

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If City Auditor and Clerk Pamela Nadalini does not comply with the request by next week, the city will terminate the charter official following misconduct allegations.
by: David Conway Deputy Managing Editor

During today’s City Commission meeting, Commissioner Hagen Brody made a point to compliment City Auditor and Clerk Pamela Nadalini for the work she’s done in more than three decades of employment with the city.

“I do want to publicly recognize and appreciate Pam’s 33 years of service to the community and to us as city commissioners and wish her well,” Brody said.

Those were the last comments the board made before voting 4-1 to ask Nadalini for her resignation no later than Tuesday, Jan. 15. If Nadalini does not resign by that date, the commission voted to terminate her contract.

Nadalini has been on administrative leave since December following an investigation into allegations of workplace misconduct. In a report, attorneys from the law firm Shumaker, Loop and Kendrick found employee reports accusing Nadalini of retaliation and bullying were legitimate.

Throughout their discussion at today’s meeting, city officials sought to strike a balance between taking decisive action against Nadalini and preserving some degree of an amicable relationship with the departing charter official.

Following the recommendations of City Attorney Robert Fournier, the commission opted to ask Nadalini for her resignation, rather than terminating her contract. If she accepts, the board also agreed to put Nadalini on paid administrative leave for another 90 days, allowing city officials to contact her as the city auditor and clerk’s office transitions to new leadership.

At a Dec. 3 meeting, commissioners expressed hope Nadalini would speak directly about the allegations, as she declined to participate in the investigation without city-provided legal representation. Although Nadalini was not present at today’s meeting, Fournier said he had been in contact with Tampa-based labor attorney Robert McKee, who is representing her.

Fournier said their conversations did not mention the report regarding the allegations of misconduct. Instead, Fournier said, Nadalini’s attorney was interested in minimizing the negative effects on her future employment prospects and ensuring a positive financial outcome.

“Maybe it’s better to say, ‘We both acknowledge these problems exist, we don’t want to go into the weeds with it, but it appears the time has come to move on,”” Fournier said.

Fournier said allowing Nadalini to resign and continue some relationship with the city post-investigation would look better to her prospective employers in the future. Nadalini’s attorney initially suggested she could continue working with the city in a consulting role, though city officials dismissed that proposal.

If she is asked to resign, Nadalini’s contract entitles her to a lump-sum severance payment equal to six months’ salary. Fournier suggested Nadalini’s 33-year tenure with the city, eight of which were spent as city auditor and clerk, was an argument in favor of moving forward with an agreement that ensured she received severance pay.

The commission included some conditions with the resignation designed to benefit the city, as well. Because of Nadalini’s experience, he said her availability could help address any questions that arise in the auditor and clerk’s office. If she agrees, Nadalini would be available for contact remotely during business hours and expected to return calls from city officials within 24 hours.

The commission also asked Nadalini to submit a general release waiving her ability to take legal action against the city, although Fournier said he believed the city would prevail if she pursued such an option.

Commissioner Shelli Freeland Eddie, the lone dissenting vote, expressed concern about the process used to investigate the allegations. She said she would prefer to pursue an option that could allow for the possibility of remediation before dismissing Nadalini.

“In my mind, there is a middle ground that allows for a form of progressive discipline,” Eddie said.

The rest of the commission, however, deemed the allegations against Nadalini were serious enough to warrant parting ways with the city auditor and clerk.

“I think the result of that investigation shows we need to act and act swiftly,” Commissioner Jen Ahearn-Koch said.

If she agrees to the terms the commission outlined, Nadalini’s resignation would go into effect by April 15. If she does not submit her resignation before Jan. 15, the city would terminate her contract Jan. 16.

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