Commissioners postpone firing Pat Bean, Renee Lee and Jim Barnes

5:17 PM, Mar 23, 2010   |    comments
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Hillsborough County Administrator Pat Bean (L) and County Attorney Renee Lee (R).

Tampa, Florida -- Hillsborough Commissioners spent almost four hours talking about firing administrator Pat Bean, county attorney Renee Lee and internal performance auditor Jim Barnes... and then did nothing.

Although there appeared to be four votes to fire Bean before the meeting, they evaporated after the Commissioners hired an outside attorney, because Lee can't represent the board on this issue.

Attorney Richard McCray, who will charge taxpayers $310 an hour, asked for more time to look at the contracts of the three employees under fire.

While County Chair Ken Hagan told his fellow board members it is time for a change and that it goes far beyond the problems of e-mails, and alleged snooping and illegal acts, he agreed to go along with the majority of the board and wait before trying to fire the trio.

Clearly Commissioners are not on the same page as Mark Sharpe, who told the board he doesn't see how the County can continue to operate. Sharpe called for the termination of both Bean and Lee with cause.

However, Commissioner Rose Ferlita who said Friday night that Bean had to go, changed her position and said  at this point there is no cause for dismissing any of the employees and taxpayers would have to fund $720,000 in severance pay.

Meantime Higginbotham recommended Lee be suspended with pay. That came after he got into several verbal battles with the County Attorney over whether she plays favorites among Commissioners and whether or not he misunderstood her explanation early this week.

In the end, Commissioners decided to do the entire episode once again on Tuesday afternoon once their new attorney can study the issues and give them advice. And while Sharpe is frustrated, he also admits he doesn't think anything will happen until the Florida Department of Law Enforcement conducts an investigation to see if there was anything illegal done in the matter. 

Mike Deeson, 10 Connects

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