Commissioners overwhelmingly voted to end the Kelly administration at a hastily called special meeting April 1st, citing the manager’s lack of communication, follow through, and heart for the job.
At the same meeting, commissioners unanimously appointed Deputy Village Manager and HR Director Jenice Rosado as the Interim Village Manager.
Kelly was hired by the Village in November 2011 when instability in the small municipality had hit a crescendo; a mayor had resigned at the peak of a recall effort and ethics investigation,a contentious commission shifted seats due to resignations or appointments, and the lead administrator position had been a revolving door of interim and not-so-permanent managers.
Lack of communication and follow-through were at the top of the commission’s collective grievances. That criticism had surfaced regularly in commission meetings during Kelly’s tenure, and had been a kind of personal crusade of Commissioner Richard Chervony who would often go off on a tangent about it.
“There has never been communication between Mr. Kelly and I,” said Chervony at the meeting.
Chervony was the other half of a two-commissioner block that tried to fire Kelly last year. Then-Commissioner Stu Blumberg had called for the firing after there was a miss communication on who had authorized a purchase. The City Manager had said he had been directed by the dais, while Blumberg denied such a request had ever been made. Tempers flared in that marathon meeting that ended well past two in the morning; the commission was deadlocked in a 2 to 2 vote, with Mayor Connie Leon-Kreps and Vice-Mayor Eddie Lim voting to keep Kelly. Paul Vogel’s fifth vote was absent as he had fallen ill, and eventually passed.
At the time Leon-Kreps and Lim said their no votes were in order to give Kelly time to assimilate to his new job, and give the village stability.
Those feelings have changed.
Lim said that after a year he knew what to expect of the city manager, and that his follow-up was “questionable.”
Mayor Leon-Kreps flat out said she had “lost faith in his ability to run the city.”
The new commissioners, who weren’t on the dais when Kelly was hired, also concur that a free flow of information never materialized.
Commissioner Jorge Gonzalez was on the search committee to find the city manager before he ran for his seat, and says Kelly was his first choice, but has come to the same conclusion.
“I agree with everyone here, I have lost confidence in Mr. Kelly’s ability to manage the village,” said Gonzalez.
Commissioner Wendy Duvall also registered not receiving relevant information she needs to work with as a commissioner, and “issues with following through.”
“Follow through” for the commission ranged from the manager answering emails on project progress, to being current on grant requests. The latter had already cost the village a mighty sum of $118,000 in grant money.
Last November NBV was notified that the large sum was being taken away by the Federal Transit Administration due to insufficient documents. The grant money was to go towards improvements for the J. F. Kennedy Causeway. Because the village had already work, money from the Transportation Fund had to be transferred to continue the project.
At the time Kelly said the administration was blindsided, and received no heads up by previous administrations: “Assumption was that it was solved. We had no indication from previous managers or finance directors how that was being handled until we got the notice,” he said.
The commission was noticeably rubbed the wrong way when they were not officially told of the missing money until January 7th, a day before the commission meeting they were to vote on the matter.
Putting late items onto the agenda was also a sore issue Mayor Leon-Kreps cited for her decision to end the Kelly administration.
Kelly had hinted that part of the problem was his office being understaffed. Last year the commission tweaked its’ personnel lineup to include a deputy city manager. Still it was not enough to prevent a termination.
Then there was the question of Kelly’s metaphorical heart. Gonzalez praised Kelly’s knowledge and still thinks he made the right choice in recommending him to be hired, but conceded that “his heart wasn’t in it.”
Lim said a red flag should have been heeded when after some time in the village Kelly had trouble naming condos in the small islands municipality.
Chervony criticized Kelly for leaving town a handful of days after a mysterious illness rocked the village’s city hall buiding. Kelly’s wife resided outside of NBV.
The commission made it clear that their objections to Kelly remaining in power were not personal, or reflected their admiration to his personal character.
Fane Lozman, a fixture of NBV politics, vocally objected the firing of Kelly, citing the manager’s character and military service. Lozman warned Duvall and Gonzalez not to go down the road of the other three commissioners and vote against the termination.
The majority of the residents that showed up at the cramp meeting room on the third floor of the Causeway Towers didn’t really object to the firing. Instead they questioned the timing, and the wisdom of the severance package.
Both side agreed to amend the contract. Originally the contract stated that Kelly was to be given 30 days advance notice, 3 months of salary, and 3 months of health benefits. Instead Kelly will receive 4 months pay, and the village’s cost for 3 months of health insurance in a direct sum.
An absence of Kelly’s side was obvious at the meeting. The former city manager did not attend, nor did his representative make counter statements. As of print time the SunPost has not been able to contact Kelly directly. If Kelly is reached, and he cares to comment, the SunPost will print his response.
Mayor Leon-Kreps said the relationship between the city and Kelly started with good intentions, but then careened.
“No one gets married thinking they are getting a divorce,” said