The Miami Town Council went into executive session for over an hour on Monday, Sept. 28 to obtain legal advice from Ms. Jodi Bohr, Employment Attorney, regarding a personal complaint filed against Town Manager Joe Heatherly.
Heatherly requested that this item be discussed in an open session. Bohr explained that a personnel complaint was received, an investigation was completed and found that two of the three allegations by the complainant were substantiated.
Heatherly’s conduct was found to be in violation of Town Policy Section 10.3, 10.6, Section 23B and Section 27.1 and the council had to determine if Heatherly would be terminated due to breach of contract.
The complainant was never identified due to the complaint’s sensitive nature. The first substantiated allegation was that inappropriate comments were made. The second was that Heatherly made physical contact by touching the complainant in ways that made them uncomfortable.
Heatherly stated that he never made any inappropriate comments and that the only contact was a hand around the shoulder.
Councilmember Michael Black moved to terminate the Town Manager under Section 2.12.050 Power and Duties Sections A, B and P. The motion was seconded by Mayor Sammy Gonzales.
Councilmember Don Reiman was opposed. He said that he thinks this is the biggest mistake the Town Council has ever made.
Councilmember Jose Medina abstained, and councilmember Patricia Bringhurst said that as Town Council you have to watch out for the Town employees; she was also opposed. Vice Mayor Dan Moat said that there is a zero tolerance policy that was outlined by Bohr and voted yes.
A special meeting was held on Wednesday, Sept. 30 to appoint an interim manager. Mayor Gonzales was initially going to suggest Police Chief Keith Thompson for the position; however, after much discussion and recommendations from councilmembers, Miami Town Clerk Karen Norris was appointed interim manager. She has been with the town of Miami for more than eight years.
Norris agreed but only as a temporary position until a Town Manager is hired.