After a special meeting last Friday, many citizens in Sebastian say they are disgusted with how the Sebastian City Councilman Bob McPartlan conducted City Manager Paul Carlisle’s performance evaluation, which was aired on TV and streamed to Facebook and YouTube.
“It was quite disgusting watching Friday’s meeting. I was in shock. Mr. Carlisle’s job performance evaluation was a free for all. A lynching by our own elected Council and our own residents. I have to ask… When was the last time your employer evaluated you in front of all your peers and the entire staff? I can guarantee you, never,” said Sebastian resident Michelle Gable.
Gable said the public performance evaluation of Carlisle was in poor judgment and shameful, and she feels the city manager is owed an apology.
“As a resident of Sebastian, I expected better from the elected Council. You looked like a bunch of bullies in the schoolyard. For the rest of you, if you want someone dismissed, I promise you there is a more dignified way to go about it,” she added.
While the council publicly comments on each charter officer’s evaluation and summarizes the results during a meeting, many who watched the forum thought it went beyond.
But more notable were the actions by Councilman Bob McPartlan, who did his evaluation twice, once during March 22, 2023, meeting in an attempt to get a no-confidence vote prior to the other council members even completing their evaluations. Then, he did it all over again on April 14, 2023.
McPartlan argued that Carlisle has a city vehicle for personal and business use, which is in his contract. However, McPartlan, who approved it, now says years later that he wasn’t aware it was for permanent personal use plus fuel.
One council member who approved the contract alongside McPartlan was former Mayor Jim Hill, who described the two meetings as a witch hunt.
“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,” Hill said in an article posted Monday on Sebastian Daily.
“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,” Hill added.
Some residents believe that if there is an issue with the vehicle and fuel use, the Council dropped the ball and failed to do its job in oversight, and now want to blame the city manager.
“Mr. Carlisle, you sir are due a big apology,” said Sebastian resident Wally Husak. “Who signed the deal several years ago and now want to make a big deal about it? The deal was set for personal use all over the state. The Council made the deal, you are to blame! Live with it! Don’t like it? Change it! But get off the guy’s back. The idea of this man sitting there, taking all the crap from the public, is stupid! The Council was hired by us, to represent us; there is no need for the public to jump on the bandwagon.”
Many residents who have communicated with Carlisle in the past say he’s done a great job handling their concerns. One of them is Susan Lorrusso.
“Mr. Carlisle is definitely due an apology. He has not only responded to any concerns I had but remedied them in a timely manner,” said Lorusso.
Hill echoed Lorusso and said the city manager is doing an excellent job.
“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, and environmental improvements along our riverfront,” said Hill. “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.”
There’s also been some discussion regarding a personal dispute between the city manager and his neighbor, including signs, which most of the council says has nothing to do with his employment. But McPartlan brought it up anyway during Carlisle’s evaluation.
Shown below are the evaluations by members of the Sebastian City Council. We also investigated and did some fact-checking on some of the allegations made about Carlisle in their assessments.
Bob McPartlan Evaluation
McPartlan provided us with call records showing he has contacted the city manager multiple times, with calls either ignored or no callbacks for unknown reasons, proving a communication issue may exist between the two.
“Communication with the City Manager is frustrating, to say the least,” said McPartlan.
McPartlan stated during meetings that he “takes these evaluations seriously” and stated in his evaluation, “I place an enormous value in rating performance.” However, he has never evaluated the city manager until now.
In addition, McPartlan skipped the entire annual 2021 evaluation process while council members Jones, Nunn, and Dodd completed their assessments promptly.
McPartlan also attempted to tarnish Carlisle’s character and reputation by making allegations based on hearsay, with no first-hand knowledge other than an email. He claims the city manager isn’t invested in Sebastian, but the facts differ from his claims.
For example, the city manager has been a resident since starting the job in 2018, and Sebastian is where he spends most of his time. Carlisle also regularly attends all Fourth of July and Christmas parades in the community held by the City. But McPartlan has skipped every single one of them.
The City provides a golf cart for each council member to use during the city parades. They decorate one for McPartlan each time, with his name on it, but he never shows up.
In addition, the city manager attends all the Veterans’ Day & Memorial Day events at Riverview Park. However, we rarely see McPartlan at any of them.
McPartlan believes that Carlisle wasn’t proactive with the Waste Management contract.
“The City’s 10-year trash contract with Waste Management is expiring, and my belief is that it was brought to the Council at the last possible minute. Had the city manager been more proactive, this item could’ve been brought before the council months ago, and at the time if we chose to go to a Universal option, we could’ve opted to request a bid for Universal city trash pickup and Sebastian would have received bids from other waste haulers,” McPartlan wrote in his evaluation.
According to documentation obtained by Sebastian Daily, Carlisle approached each council member in March 2022, asking for direction for the upcoming bid regarding trash collection services. That’s about one year before the vote. However, he couldn’t get a general consensus for “Universal” or “Subscription” from the Council, so he added both options to the bid.
Three trash collection companies responded to the bid, with only Waste Management making an offer.
McPartlan then went on in his evaluation, stating Sebastian is known as a “subscription service city.”
While Carlisle delivered budget goals on time as part of his responsibilities, McPartlan credits the City’s, Chief Financial Officer.
“I believe the budget is developed and prepared in a timely manner, however, I think this is more a result of the Chief Financial Officer, Ken Kilgore, who runs the process like a well-oiled machine, and working in conjunction with the citizen’s budget review committee than the city manager,” McPartlan wrote.
McPartlan claims that many employees with the City contacted him to make complaints against Carlisle but can’t name them for fear of retaliation. However, Councilman Chris Nunn met with city employees, including department heads, who spoke highly of the city manager.
Another issue McPartlan mentioned was the Stormwater Master Plan, as it’s been “two years since the city agreed to spend over $700,000 for a stormwater plan.”
“To the best of my knowledge, the City has received a partial draft which is going back and forth with our city engineer. Again, this is two years for a $700,000+ project which initially was thought to take no more than 17 months, and this Council has still seen nothing. My concern is the city manager is not driving these projects. He is supposed to have his ‘eye on the ball’ and keep us up to date on progress and concerns,” McPartlan wrote.
McPartlan didn’t like how Carlisle handled the union negotiations, stating they should have started long ago. However, we learned that the police union changed, which dragged on for months, apparently stalling negotiations.
McPartlan recognized this but insisted, “these negotiations should have been started long ago and set as a priority by the city manager once they were initiated, and continuous negotiations until finalization not for as many months as it has taken,” he wrote.
McPartlan barely said anything positive about the city manager. His evaluation of Carlisle is very different than the other four council members.
Mayor Fred Jones Evaluation
In reference to the city manager’s relations with the governing body Mayor Jones’ stated, “has a tendency of being secretive about certain things happening in the City. One of your greatest strengths is your ability to manage multiple responsibilities.”
Regarding fiscal management, Jones feels that the City Manager failed to promptly inform the Council of the strategic plan going over budget.
The Mayor’s advice to Carlise about personal management: “Reflect on challenges your team faces in the workplace and think about indicators that might prevent similar situations in the future. Engage in dialogue with your team and listen to their suggestions to create even more creative problem-solving ideas.”
Jones feels that Carlisle displays good judgment, makes fact-based decisions, and makes himself available to the public. In addition, he believes that Carlisle represents the City well when working with other governmental agencies within the county and state. However, he feels that Carlisle’s communication needs some improvement.
Kelly Dixon Evaluation
In regards to Carlisle’s relations with the Governing Body (Providing information), Councilwoman Dixon states, “The ball was dropped with the strategic plan and WM contract. I feel Mr. Carlisle needs a better system to track projects and items of importance.”
“I do appreciate the phone calls with updates but could use more. I also appreciate his willingness to meet, but feel he could be better prepared for them,” Dixon added.
Under Organization Relations (Fiscal Management), Dixon stated, “with the abuse of privilege with our city vehicle provided under his contract with limitations and lack of forethought in regards to billing costs with WM contract, I am dishearted and concerned about his fiscal management of the city.”
However, during Friday’s special City Council meeting, after she read her evaluation, she stated, “I understand now with Mr. Nunn’s statement that the car was agreed upon by council for personal use.”
“In my assumption, I felt it was being an abusive privilege,” Dixon added.
With regard to the city manager’s relations with the public, Dixion stated, “I have received citizen’s comments and complaints about the mishandling of information (naming the citizen when asked to be kept anonymous) or not following up on complaints to see if issues have been rectified. However, at various governmental meetings, officials speak highly of our city manager.”
Dixon would like to see bi-weekly status updates on projects and contracts presented to Council via email, an organizational chart of current and upcoming projects/contracts with their deadlines, and progress/next steps on the white board in his office/conference room.
Ed Dodd Evaluation
Dodd feels the problem is that Carlisle “tries to do too much” and says, in his opinion, there are three reasons that is done:
- You want to control.
- You don’t trust the people you have to delegate to.
- You don’t have anyone to delegate it to.
“I’m hoping the third one is the issue, and I am emploring this council to hire additional staff,” Dodd stated.
The City of Sebastian has 3.5 employees per 1,000 residents, while Vero Beach has around 7. We had eight before the 2008 drop. So, the City of Sebastian is way understaffed.
“In the quest that the Council has gone through to try to continually cut back on taxes, we have created a situation that makes it more difficult for me to be, and look, I do not disagree with the issues that McPartlan is saying about the issues we are facing right now, but it makes it much more difficult for me think that it is just the city manager’s fault, that those things occur. I have to take responsibility as well,” Dodd stated.
Councilman Ed Dodd took responsibility for his part in the confusion of Carlisle’s personal use of the city vehicle that he voted on in 2018.
“I did vote for the Gulf State use of the car, and I will admit that I was under the impression that that was being done as a stopgap because the city manager was having an issue finding a house here, and I understood that he was looking for a house here at the time in which property was elevating in value.”
Carlisle has a residency in Sebastian after buying a home in 2018, where he spends most of his time. However, Carisle’s wife lives and works on the west coast, and they meet on weekends and holidays.
Dodd’s solution to these issues is to establish a quarterly review process with the City’s complete project schedule and timeline.
Chris Nunn Evaluation
Nunn says working with the city manager has been easy, and he provides all the information he needs to do his job as a councilman. He says communication with Carlisle has been very good in both directions. However, Nunn believes Carlisle should improve communications with other council members who feel different.
He spoke with Carlisle about the Strategic Plan and why it exceeded the budget. During the discussion, Carlisle acknowledged and took the blame for going over budget.
“The Strategic Plan started before COVID; a lot of stuff happened to delay it, which wasted a lot of money,” said Nunn. “We did, however, get a very comprehensive city survey that gave us a great amount of information.”
Nunn emphasized that the Strategic Plan was implemented before COVID, the lengthy Sebastian annexation, and the issues when three council members violated the Sunshine Law and were recalled. But Nunn believes Carlisle could have better managed the plan while noting that the vendor hired by the City was incapable of handling the project.
Nunn also talked about the Stone Crop Project, stating the reasons for the increased cost were directly related to the massive increase of all construction materials during this period, and the delay came from waiting for the FEMA grant, not by the City.
He also spoke about the solid waste contract with Waste Management. Knowing what he knows now, Nunn feels discussions should have started approximately two years earlier since there was a delay of up to 18 months in delivering new trucks.
Nunn says the city manager does an amazing job making sure the budget is completed properly and on time by working closely with staff and the Citizens Budget Advisory Board.
“The city manager and staff provide quarterly financial reports and bring any other changes to the Council during those meetings,” said Nunn.
As for personnel management, Nunn said he’s heard it mentioned that Carlisle was at fault for the delay in the union negotiations. However, he said a change in unions caused the most significant delay.
“And no desire to negotiate until the new union was in place,” said Nunn. The city manager has no power to push or coerce the employees of the unions to negotiate without representation.”
While McPartlan said he’s been receiving calls from anonymous city employees making complaints against Carlisle, Nunn interviewed department heads who felt the city manager is doing a good job.
“I spoke with all the directors and upper management inside the City about Mr. Carlisle. I spent two and a half to three weeks doing a forensic interview process with each and every one of them. While there were a few issues, almost every one of them said they had a great working relationship with him, that he was always professional and very knowledgeable, and one of the best city managers they have worked for. They almost all said they respected him and his position,” added Nunn.
According to Nunn, some employees had an issue with pay, stating “it always brings out the negative because it’s something they feel strongly about. However, a pay study under the city manager’s direction and leadership should resolve most issues.”
Nunn also stated that all senior management employees felt Carlisle allows them the freedom and encouragement to run their departments.
“None of them felt that he micromanaged them and felt that he was available when needed, either in person or by phone. Some did say that getting an appointment to sit down with him was hard and took a week or so as he’s very busy,” said Nunn.
As far as the city vehicle use for Carlisle, Nunn admitted he had some concerns as to why this would be allowed but found out it was a benefit given to him by a 5-0 vote on a contract approved by the 2018 city council.
“How do you look bad on someone for using their benefits,” said Nunn.
Nunn also looked at other cities that don’t allow a vehicle for charter-type officers and found they allow a standard $500 a month expense, totaling $18,000 over three years. But Nunn said Carlisle spent $10,000 in three years, approximately $8,000 less than the standard.
“Now that doesn’t consider the cost of the vehicle, which has value as well. But that vehicle would still exist. We would still have insurance on it. The only other cost would be wear and tear. There’s a cost associated with that, no argument,” said Nunn.
As for working with the public, Nunn said he’s seen Carlisle in action.
“He has a very good rapport with the business owners and the residents of the City. He meets with them as they request and listens to their concerns and ideas. He responds to emails from them in a timely manner with facts and empathy,” Nunn said.
As far as the allegations of Carlisle not being invested in Sebastian, Nunn disagrees.
“The city manager and his wife have been in every parade since he has been here. They attend almost every large city event on the weekends here in Sebastian. He bought his house in December of 2018, one month after being given a six-month extension,” said Nunn.
Nunn also stated that Carlisle does spend time on the west coast on the weekends with his wife.
“Imagine you and your wife both having highly professional jobs and having to live on different coasts to Florida for those jobs, doing your best to see each other on weekends,” Nunn said.
Nunn suggested that if anyone has a problem with it, talk to Carlisle about it and find a way to change it through the council.
“What the city manager does on his time, if it’s not illegal and doesn’t affect the City of Sebastian, is none of our business,” Nunn added.
As for accomplishments, Nunn said under Carlisle’s leadership, the City moved to the MyGov permitting inspections with the changes implemented in the building department.
“With the changes implemented in the building department, that turnaround for permits is 10 days, and the turnaround for inspections is either one day or the same day,” said Nunn.
Nunn also mentioned Carlisle’s direction and leadership for building the new city compound project and the $2 million grant to bring sewer and water to the airport, getting commercial entitles off septic.
City Manager’s Overall Ratings
Mayor Fred Jones
- Overall Rating: 3.0
- Recommendation: A performance salary increase of 3% should be granted.
Vice Mayor Chris Nunn
- Overall Rating: 3.5
- Recommendation: A performance salary increase of 5% should be granted.
Councilman Ed Dodd
- Overall Rating: 3.2
- Recommendation: A performance salary increase of 3% should be granted.
Councilwoman Kelly Dixon
- Overall Rating: 2.5
- Recommendation: A salary increase should not be given at this time, employee should be re-evaluated in 180 days.
Councilman Bob McPartlan
- Overall Rating: 1.5
- A salary increase is not recommended at this time.