Fort Pierce City Manager David Recor was pretty thoroughly raked over the coals recently by members of the City Commission before they agreed in a 3-2 vote not to terminate Recor’s contract with the city.
Clearly, Recor is on shaky ground, though he believed going into the meeting that he had the votes to survive.
The manner in which the showdown over his job performance played out, however, was not in anyone’s best interest.
Recor remains as city manager working for five members of the City Commission. There need to be some changes in how that relationship is to continue so that it is handled in a more civil and more professional manner.
City commissioners must set some goals and objectives for Recor so he better understands what is expected of him. There should not be a diverse and contradictory set of goals laid out by five individual members that could be impossible to meet. The commission must come together on goals and set them out in writing. What is told to him behind closed doors by individual commissioners must be consistent with what is said in public.
Because commissioners have not evaluated the city manager in writing, confusion might have reigned. Each commissioner should evaluate Recor within the next three months based on goals established to get the process started. At a minimum, the city manager should be given a written evaluation from each commissioner annually, before renewal of his contract.
The written goals and evaluations are not a perfect system in judging expectations and results. As Commissioner Eddie Becht said in addressing what he felt were Recor’s shortcomings, “We’re not asking David to change his shirt. We’re asking him to change his character.” But, a more professional and formal procedure should be an improvement over how the relationship operates now.
With the tension now between some commissioners and Recor, it would not be surprising if Recor were to more aggressively seek career opportunities elsewhere. It is incumbent, therefore, for commissioners to establish an orderly plan of succession should Recor or any future city manager for Fort Pierce suddenly leave, be terminated or become incapacitated. Someone needs to have the training and, if possible, the certification to take on that role in the interim. That doesn’t necessarily mean re-establishing the position of assistant city manager. It does mean having someone available to fill in the position of city manager if the need arises.
The disagreements between some city commissioners and Recor did not come about overnight. They have been building for years. It’s unlikely they will suddenly go away. But, hopefully, some lessons have been learned and actions taken so the operation of city government will be somewhat more functional.