By Mike S Payton, Contributing Reporter
DELRAY BEACH, FLORIDA – At a Special City Commission Meeting yesterday, Wednesday, June 24th, Delray Beach officials voted 3 to 2 in favor of terminating the City Manager, George Gretsas. Only in the position since January 6th, Gretsas was suspended with pay from his $265,000 a year job.
The city says that the decision came as a result of an ongoing investigation into allegations, filed by two city employees, involving bullying and intimidation of staff on the part of Gretsas.
Voting for “a notice of intent to remove” Gretsas with cause were Mayor Shelly Petrolia and Commissioners Shirley Johnson and Juli Casale. Voting against the move were Commissioners Ryan Boylston and Adam Frankel.
“Unfortunately, as much as I had hoped, this was not the right fit for Delray Beach, but I feel assured that the best candidate is still out there,” Mayor Petrolia said.
Adding, “Our city needs a manager that understands and respects the mission, vision and culture of Delray Beach, brings out the best in the city and its staff, and helps Delray Beach reach its full potential.”
As the Palm Beach Post reported on Monday, Gretsas had accused Assistant City Manager Suzanne Fisher of “misusing her office” and Fisher has accused him of “bullying, gender discrimination and harassment.”
The Post also reported that Fisher had filed similar complaints in October 2016 against Michael Coleman, the then director of neighborhood and community services. But an investigator hired by the city at the time concluded that Fisher “made a false claim” as “virtually no one corroborated” her allegations.
Earlier this month the current commissioners hired an outside law firm to conduct a detailed investigation on the recent counterclaims. However the special meeting and vote was held before the final report was finished.
Commissioner Boylston voiced his position that the vote was a rushed process, as the report on the investigation was not available. “We’re rushing to judgment here, we’ve seen nothing but an allegation,” Boylston said during the meeting yesterday.
Commissioner Adam Frankel also spoke out against proceeding on making any decisions about Gretsas’ future without seeing a final version of the report.
Gretsas addressed the commission during the meeting, saying “to go ahead and put me on some sort of notice, when you haven’t read the report yet, that doesn’t strike me exactly as fair.”
Gretsas replaced ousted city manager Mark Lauzier, who was fired March 19th last year. He is the fifth city manager in Delray Beach since 2013. Interim managers have filled in on two other occasions.
Prior to coming to Delray Beach, Gretsas was city manager in Homestead for a nine-year tenure, and before then was city manager of Fort Lauderdale for six years.
During the special meeting yesterday, the Commission voted, 4 to 1, to appoint the City’s Purchasing Director, Jennifer Alvarez, as Interim City Manager.
Alvarez joined the City of Delray Beach as the Director of Purchasing in 2017. She is a Certified Public Procurement Officer with a Master’s Degree in Public Administration and 21 years of local government experience, both on a county and city level.