Limitations of Elected Office and Fernandina Beach City Charter

One of the first lessons learned, when elected to office…is serious and meant to create  reasonable local government.  In other words, the charter is supposed to protect the taxpayer or voter from the “unreasonable”.  Election comes with limits. Direction of employees or direction to move funds from department to department, study an issue….all goes through a “Charter Officer” and the commission as a body, not the department head. Commissioners are not entitled to act as city manager or run roughshod over the charter. This means, conversations with employees are limited to information gathering and generally will happen after notification of the manager or appropriate charter officer prior or after specific direction by a commission. The danger of either directing action in violation of the charter or a perception of directing is increased when we have direct appointment of members to boards, active/frequent/vocal attendance at advisory meetings and an excessive and overwhelming presence in day to day operations at City Hall.

Sec. 10. – Powers generally; dealing with administrative service through Charter Officers required; violations deemed misdemeanor, penalty.

(a)The Mayor and Commissioners shall not, in any manner, dictate the appointment or removal of any city officers or employees whom the Charter Officer or any of his/her subordinates are empowered to appoint, evaluate and supervise.(b)All powers of the City, except as otherwise provided by this Charter or by the constitution of this state, are hereby vested in the City Commission. Except as otherwise provided by this Charter or by the constitution of this state, the City Commission may by ordinance or resolution prescribe the manner in which any power of the city shall be exercised.(c)The Mayor and Commissioners shall deal with administrative service through the respective Charter Officer. The Mayor and Commissioners shall not directly interfere with or direct the conduct of any employee in the discharge of prescribed duties. However, with the express permission of the respective Charter Officer, the Mayor and Commissioners may communicate directly with an employee.(d)Any violation of the provisions of this section by any member of the City Commission shall, upon first offense be grounds for sanction by the Commission, and any second or subsequent offense or violation within a commissioner’s term shall constitute a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof before any court of competent jurisdiction the violator shall be fined in an amount not exceeding two hundred dollars ($200.00), or be imprisoned for a period not exceeding six (6) months, or both, at the discretion of the court, and shall be subject to removal from office.(e)Investigations or inquiries shall be conducted pursuant to Section 136 of this charter.

(Laws of Fla., ch. 8949(1921), § 10; Ord. No. 91-17, § 1, 9-17-91; Ord. No. 2009-06, § 3, 3-7-09). Source: City of Fernandina Beach Charter June 8, 2019

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