North Port City Commission addresses conflict with city manager

WWSB ABC7 News at 6pm
Published: Jun. 6, 2023 at 9:28 PM EDT
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NORTH PORT, Fla. (WWSB) - North Port city commission held a meeting on June 6 at 9 a.m. and the main focus was conflict. The meeting had two items on the agenda, conflict training and the complaints filed against City Manager Jerome Fletcher.

The complaints were filed by City Commission Debbie McDowell that said his actions as city manager violated the city charter and his contract. According to a document from the City Attorney, Amber Slayton, Fletcher’s action didn’t break any laws.

From 9 a.m. until almost 5 p.m. the commission participated in conflict training with Dr. Meagan Baskin from Florida Gulf Coast University. The training shed light on the ongoing conflict between Fletcher and McDowell that Fletcher said dates back to before he was city manager.

“When me and this commissioner first began our relationship, the first things that were said that were publicly viewed were about the lack of qualifications that I have, based on what she wanted. Not the team, what she wanted,” says Fletcher.

McDowell responded to him within minutes explaining its nothing personal. McDowell said she did the same thing Slayton being brought on as the city attorney.

“Unfortunately, the city manager and I have never gotten past that. I have tried as much as I could and every chance felt like it was getting fluffed down,” says McDowell.

After finishing the training, the commission discussed Fletcher and possible action that could be taken against him. McDowell ended up making a motion to have a formal investigation against Flecther which received no second. Following that and a round of public comment, Mayor Barbara Langdon ended the meeting.

During some of the public comments, those speaking were mixed in either supporting or not supporting Flecther. One resident that spoke said Fletcher’s actions reflect poorly on the city commission and residents.

“We have a city manager over here that’s filling out thank you cards or whatever it is along the way. How he’s treating the citizens is a representation of you as commissioners and us as citizens. I asked for an email on April 10th, the last two meetings ago, but didn’t get any response except for Mrs. McDowell,” says the resident.

A majority of McDowell’s complaints against Fletcher have to do with his actions relating to Warm Mineral Springs Park.