Hillsborough BOCC fires Bean with cause

06/16/10 Kate Bradshaw
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In a six to one vote today, the Hillsborough Board of County Commissioners opted to fire County Administrator Pat Bean with cause. It was one of three options attorney Robert McCrea presented to the commissioners, and it was the least costly.

But McCrea warned the board that the option may cost more in the long run.

The other two options were terminating without cause, which would have given Bean more than 450,000 dollars in severance pay. It would allow her to resign yet still remain on the county’s payroll as a consultant. Commissioner Kevin White said the third option, which might have handed Bean nearly 600,000 dollars in pay and benefits, was another pricey severance package the county can’t afford.

Commissioner Rose Ferlita said Bean was given the option to resign months ago, and should have done it then.

Bean came under fire last year after it was found that she gave herself and several staffers a one percent pay raise – Bean’s annual salary was already more than 220 thousand dollars. The issue then snowballed into a bigger scandal when Bean requested emails regarding an investigation into her case. Commissioner Mark Sharpe said the details of the case make it clear that she violated her contract, which gives the board cause to fire her.

Commission Chair Ken Hagan echoed this.

The sole commissioner to oppose terminating Bean’s employment with cause was Jim Norman. He said doing so would coast the county more in the long run.

The threat of litigation was made real when Ken Tinkler, Bean’s attorney, assured the board that there is no cause, and that they’ll be hearing from him in the near future if they say there is.

But activist Marcella Osteen, who had been urging the board to oust Bean for months, said Bean would have no case.

While Bean made out like less of a bandit than she had hoped, County Attorney Renee Lee, fared better. Like Bean, Lee had been placed on 90-day paid leave in the wake of the email snooping controversy. But after the commission voted to fire Bean, they elected to bring Lee back. Commissioner White said paying her to stay home was a waste of taxpayer dollars.

Commissioner Kevin Beckner disagreed. He said he would rather await the results of a Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigation into the case.

Commissioner Mark Sharpe cast the other dissenting vote on the question of whether to let Lee come back to work despite a looming criminal investigation.

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Pat Bean and company are the best case for a county mayor. Good Riddance to TRASH!