Interim city manager under fire

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By Robert Allen

Quincy Interim City Manager Mike Wade came under fire after Commissioner Keith Dowdell asked Wade questions and then made a motion at the Aug. 12 Quincy Commission meeting for an administrative investigation surrounding allegations of improperly maintained city personnel files.
 “Destroying public documents is a felony,” said Dowdell.
According to the commissioner, after waiting to receive public records for so long he decided to pay for the documents as a private citizen, the city provided a personnel file, which was missing a form approving a former city employee’s permanent employment.  
In the form’s place, Dowdell said he was provided with a memo from the city, reading, “forms that are not acted upon are discarded.”
“What is being said?” Dowdell asked, regarding this memo.
“I didn’t write that,” said Wade. “I didn’t review it — but I can check into it for you. I don’t know anything about it.”
Again Dowdell cited the line provide by the city in lieu of a document, which possibly sanctions the disposal of an employment form.
“If it wasn’t acted upon, and if that’s the policy then that’s what was followed,” said Wade.
“So you’re telling me you destroyed it?” asked Dowdell.
“I’m not telling you that—no, Sir,” said Wade.  “I need an opportunity to check into it. You’re asking me something that I don’t know the details about.”
Dowdell asked Wade to remember the reason he requested the documents in the first place, claiming inconsistencies between information he received from Wade and other sources.  
“I have not given any direction to discard anything,” said Wade. “I know that’s your accusation.”
“It’s not an accusation,” said Dowdell. “I’m asking you a question.”
“I’ve given you an answer,” said Wade.
Aside from the possible destruction of documents, Dowdell questioned Wade about the legitimacy of his hiring practices and the propriety of his drug testing.
Commissioner Andy Gay seconded Dowdell’s motion for an investigation.
After a preliminary consultation with the interim city attorney concerning the range of the commission’s subpoena power, among other variables, the commission voted unanimously to move forward with the investigation.
In an earlier and unrelated exchange, Joe Munroe, interior designer and local historian, spoke on behalf of a group of Quincy residents who would like to privatize the Quincy Main Street organization. It currently exists under the direction of the city government.  
“Main Street is concerned with the revitalization of the commercial core of small towns,” said Munroe. “To this end, the majority of them in the state of Florida are independent nonprofits.”
The Main Street organization, which also exists on state and national levels of administration, allows for the local entities to be passed from public to private hands, provided the private group has formed an officially recognized nonprofit organization through which Main Street may be managed.
Munroe told city commissioners he and the other interested Quincy residents would soon be securing this designation.   
“It is the desire of this group that the branding of Quincy be changed to something positive, which is possible” said Munroe.
The idea faced some procedural questions — but no conceptual objections.
“I fully support our community stakeholders and their desire to take this on,” said Gay. “I think they can do a lot better job and commit to it a lot more so than we can.”
Gay motioned to begin the process of transferring the organization to an independent nonprofit. The motion passed unanimously.