OPINION – What an embarrassing exhibit by our City Council at last Friday’s special meeting. Not since the good ol’ days of Sal and Al, or dare I say the dark days of Damo and his band of misfits, have I seen such a level of unprofessionalism on display.
For this council to conduct the professional reviews of charter officers in that forum and then to ask the public to jump in on the ridicule of our professional City Manager is an abomination akin to the Salem Witch Trials with a public burning at the stake. The level of disrespect volleyed at the City Manager by the laymen on council was deplorable and puts a dark stain on the City’s reputation.
Paul Carlisle is a man with a level of experience and knowledge in government and infrastructure that cannot be matched. The City of Sebastian is very lucky to have him at the helm.
Mr. Carlisle has guided this community through many great improvements during his tenure, including bringing millions of dollars in grant funding for our airport, drainage improvements, environmental improvements along our riverfront, and many other projects too numerous to list.
For decades, this City has tried to improve the CRA by having the city compound moved to the airport. This was only accomplished by Mr. Carlisle. And let us not forget that while accomplishing that feat, Mr. Carlisle worked with the county to bring additional infrastructure to the west side of the airport, which will allow for additional growth and development in that important industrial area of our City.
Even when the political mess of the annexation was ongoing, Mr. Carlisle worked tirelessly with the county on a daily basis to ensure the working relationships remained intact. During that time, a certain council member refused to acknowledge our staff’s work while commending the county staff on their hard work.
Through it all, Mr. Carlisle remained professional and committed to the City of Sebastian, and nothing less would have been expected from him.
No one is perfect by any measure, but in my twenty-plus years of service to Sebastian, working with four city managers, I can easily state that Mr. Carlisle is by far the most effective city manager I have ever worked with.
Recent comments and accusations have made it clear that Mr. Carlisle is under attack, for personal reasons, by a certain council member. Some (very few, but loud) voices in the community have honed in on certain aspects of Mr. Carlisle’s contract and are now trying to discredit him after having no problem whatsoever with the same contract for years.
Personally, I find the timing curious as nothing has changed, on Mr. Carlisle’s end at least, to warrant the questions, attacks, and inappropriate personal accusations. Let me state that last point again: Nothing has changed on Mr. Carlisle’s end… As a clear reminder, those who agreed to provide Mr. Carlisle with this compensation package—in a unanimous vote of council—would be myself serving as Mayor and Council Members Albert Iovino, Linda Kinchen, Ed Dodd, and of course, Council Member Bob McPartlan.
I’ve heard it mentioned that some were under the impression that the compensation arrangement was temporary. That’s news to me, but I would then ask why such language wasn’t reflected in the contract. Surely a more thorough job would’ve been done in outlining the timing and parameters of the compensation package in the contract if the arrangement was to be temporary.
It was also stated that the requirement of the city manager living in the City is so that he or she will be invested in the community. This is true and Mr. Carlisle was required to purchase a home in Sebastian.
In addition to his regular and unending tasks as city manager, he has been to the majority of city events and has represented the City by working with county nonprofits for many years as well. I am not sure what more he needs to do to prove that he is invested in the City.
With regard to Mr. Carlisle’s work schedule, we have entrusted him with the keys to the City. He is a professional, salaried contract worker for the City, not an hourly staff member, and his work schedule should reflect that deference. Nobody has asked if he perhaps already worked forty, fifty, sixty hours for the week and therefore felt he was well within his rights to leave early or not come in at all one day.
I believe this is referred to as compensatory leave in some professions and can be found in section 6-1 of the Florida Department of Children and Families employee handbook that is being used as a template for the new City of Sebastian employee handbook.
A rose can be made to smell bad if it is rubbed in a pile of dog shit, and that is what is being done to our City Manager. He has lived up to his end of the bargain and is being publicly ridiculed about his personal life in an effort to have him removed. Council should do a better job of protecting the City’s professional staff. It’s not a good idea for present or past council members to get into the business of scrutinizing the personal lives of others, as we all have skeletons and we all know about them.
Ask yourself this: Why would the details of an isolated incident that happened years ago, after hours at a local bar, be dug up now if not for a witch hunt? If it was an issue, then it should’ve been an issue back then. Mr. Carlisle discussed it with council members immediately after it happened, so why, many years later, is it being discussed? Sounds like a personal vendetta to me.
This is not meant to be an indictment on our individual council members, as I am fully confident that most of them know what they are doing and have the best interests of the community at heart. In fact, I have purposefully stayed clear to the point of not even watching the meetings.
However, after numerous calls about what has been done and said over the past few weeks, I was compelled to watch past meetings and was quite horrified. My purpose in writing this is to implore Council to get past this non-issue and move on with the business of our great City.
Mr. Carlisle, the City owes you an apology for what occurred last Friday, and I can assure you that a massive majority of the population is very pleased with your services.
If you don’t get that apology, please accept mine. I am sorry that those who represent me allowed that spectacle to occur, and hope you choose to stay and continue your great service to Sebastian.