Tampa, Florida-- A dramatic move late Tuesday afternoon as Hillsborough Commissioners suspended County Administrator Pat Bean and County Attorney Renee Lee for 90 days with pay.
It came after Hillsborough Commissioner Mark Sharpe made a motion to fire the duo saying their performance warrants termination. Sharpe didn't have the votes to make it happen.
Meantime, Commissioner Rose Ferlita, who says the time of being part of the laughing stock is over for her, wouldn't vote to fire both Bean and Lee. Instead, Ferlita proposed the Administrator resign and get her full severance.
However, after conferring with her attorney, Pat Bean told Commissioners at this point she is not prepared to resign and would like to continue to serve the citizens and the employees of the county.
That's when Commissioner Al Higginbotham came up with his solution that Bean and Lee would be suspended for 90 days, but it would be with pay. That gives Bean a $56,000 vacation and Lee $53,000 for the next three months to do nothing.
Higginbotham says he thinks it was the best decision to put the folks on leave with pay and without casting a judgment.
The big question here is what happens after 90 days if the FDLE doesn't finish its investigation into whether the duo committed criminal acts.
Sharpe says that is the problems and it drags on and on.
Sharpe, who voted against the paid vacation, says it is unfair to the public to pay the high powered administrators to do nothing. He says the public has the right to demand and expect everyone on the payroll to be dealing with the problems that face the county from the budget, to transportation, to a whole host of issues.
Meantime, Ferlita says all the County has done is to continue uncertainty for 90 days and the County should have taken some kind of action to remove Bean with or without severance.
She also states that would have removed the circus atmosphere at Commission.
In the meantime, Assistant Administrator Mike Merrill will take over the top job and former Assistant County Attorney Don Odom with act as the Chief Legal Council and Bean and Lee will walk away to begin their vacations with the County still in limbo.