Sarasota city commissioners on Monday demanded that City Auditor and Clerk Pamela Nadalini, the first black or female charter official in city history, submit her resignation by Jan. 15 or face immediate termination.
“I don’t want to see this continue and to be drug through the mud,” said Vice Mayor Jennifer Ahearn-Koch. “I would like for us to handle this in a respectful way so Ms. Nadalini can also go on and pursue her goals.”
The move comes after a consultant’s report heavily criticized Nadalini’s management style. Past and present employees told Shumaker, Kendrick & Loop investigators that Nadalini shouted at them at work and practiced retaliatory management in a hostile workplace.
The ultimate findings heavily criticized the charter official.
“Individuals advised that CAC’s workplace atmosphere involved a consistent pattern of retaliation; that communication by bullying, yelling, and badgering occurred; that Ms. Nadalini’s negative workplace attributes outweigh her positive workplace attributes; that Ms. Nadalini leads by fear,” the report states.
Nadalini refused to meet with consultants before the $30,000 investigation concluded and recommended her termination.
But supporters of Nadalini balked at the notion of severing a relationship with a manager based on allegations she yelled too often.
Former Mayor Carolyn Mason spoke out at the City Commission, and said while she knows Nadalini can be a “taskmaster,” she also knew the 33-year city employee to be a resource to commissioners.
The board voted 4-1 to demand Nadalini, on administrative leave since Dec. 3, resign. The demand allows Nadalini to submit her resignation by Jan. 15 but says she may provide an end of employment as late as April 15.
Nadalini would remain on leave for the duration of her time and could provide consultation to a limited number of individuals at City Hall during any transition.
But Commissioner Shelli Freeland Eddie, the only dissenting vote on demanding Nadalini’s ouster, considered it hypocritical to declare the clerk unfit to hold her job, then to ask for her to stay available for consultation.
That move, Eddie said, seemed to suggest “We don’t want you here but stay here so we can ask you questions.”
Eddie has been largely supportive of Nadalini through the process, as has City Commissioner Willie Shaw, the only sitting commissioner on the board when Nadalini was promoted to City Auditor and Clerk after more than 20 years working within the office.
Shaw, though, joined with the majority asking Nadalini to resign.
He stressed Nadalini always received positive reviews from commissioners, but that the clerk, following the report’s findings and complaints from a steady stream of employees, now represented a liability to the city should she stay on.
He also lashed out at some supporters of Nadalini who pushed in the past for Sarasota to elect a strong mayor, something Shaw said could marginalize minority voters, but now called proceedings around her departure into question, and even alluded to racial motivation.