Formal search for new City of Sarasota auditor and clerk to be on City Commission’s Oct. 7 agenda

Commissioner Shaw had suggested waiting six months to start the initiative, so turmoil could subside in auditor and clerk’s office after Nadalini’s firing

Pamela Nadalini. File photo

On Oct. 7 — almost exactly seven months after they last addressed the issue — the Sarasota city commissioners are scheduled once again to consider undertaking a formal search for a new city auditor and clerk.

In mid-January, the board formally fired Pamela Nadalini, following an investigation by two members of the Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick law firm in Sarasota that found Nadalini had been abusive of her staff.

After years of the airing of allegations that Nadalini had poor skills when it came to managing people, the commission agreed last year to Human Resources Director Stacie Mason’s recommendation to retain an outside firm that definitively could confirm or refute those reports.

Following their decision in December 2018 to put Nadalini on paid administrative leave, the commissioners named Deputy City Auditor and Clerk Shayla Griggs the interim leader of the department.

Then, on March 4, the majority of the board members agreed that Mason should draft a scope of work that would entail an outside “headhunting” firm working with her and her staff in recruiting a new city auditor and clerk.

That evening, Mason also advised the commissioners that it probably would take six months to hire Nadalini’s successor, after the search began.

During the discussion, Commissioner Willie Shaw expressed his preference for Griggs to serve in the interim role for another six months. That, he said, would give the staff members of the Office of the City Auditor and Clerk more time to feel some stability in leadership, so morale could continue to improve.

Since the commission appointed Griggs to the interim position, Shaw added, the situation in that office “looks good; it sounds good; it feels good.”

Commissioner Willie Shaw. File photo

Although Shaw made his feelings clear that evening, a Sarasota News Leader check of the minutes of that March 4 meeting do not mention Shaw’s comments. The minutes report that Mason appeared before the commission to discuss recruiting a new city auditor and clerk. Then at 6:29:04 p.m., the minutes continued, “Mayor [Liz] Alpert noted Commission consensus for Ms. Mason to bring back a Scope of Services, criteria and costs of a hybrid recruitment process between an Executive Search Firm and the City’s Human Resources (HR) Department.”

The  News Leader this week asked city staff for a statement about the delay in Mason’s return to the commissioners with the scope of work for the formal search.

City Communications Specialist Jason Bartolone responded on Sept. 30: “The scheduling of this item was an internal decision based on availability on the commission agenda and not having a deadline or time limitation to meet.”

The City Commission has dealt with a number of topics in recent months that have been of great interest to members of the public. More than a few times, the board has concluded its agendas close to midnight.

Among the bigger topics have been the initiative to create The Bay public park on the city’s downtown waterfront acreage, the debate about what to do with the Bobby Jones Golf Club and a request by the Sarasota Orchestra to use part of Payne Park for its new performing arts hall.

Interim City Auditor and Clerk Shayla Griggs reads an agenda item into the record during the Sept. 16 City Commission meeting. News Leader image

In response to another News Leader question this week, Bartolone reported that Griggs, the acting city auditor and clerk, has an annual salary of $109,112. He added, “This includes a pay increase (from $39 per hour to $50 per hour) that became effective in January 2019 at the request of the commission, as well as a step increase that was due in August 2019, bringing her current rate to $52.45 an hour.”

When Nadalini — who had served on the city staff for 33 years — was put on paid administrative leave in early December 2018, her salary was $181,493.94, Bartolone told the News Leader at that time.

The Oct. 7 City Commission discussion about the formal search is the first item under the Unfinished Business portion of the agenda. As a result, the board is expected to address that during its afternoon session, which will begin at 1:30 p.m.

The meetings are held in the Commission Chambers within City Hall, which is located at 1565 First St. in downtown Sarasota.