Hard to figure. . .
A guy works for about quarter of a century for a city and he might figure he has a lifetime job. Right?
Especially if his rating over the years have been top drawer, he is highly regarded by the people he serves, he is quiet and competent and efficient. Right?
These were the ingredients to get dumped as far as Buell Vann was concerned.
Belleair Beach decided more than a year ago to sell its sewer system.
Because the system was part of the public works the city sachems decided to sell Vann, too -- sell him right down the river.
The city did not get rid of the Public Works Department over which Vann was superintendent. That was made very clear. No more sewer but public works still in operation.
But, they said, Vann must go.
Well, maybe it wasn't "they." More like "he" -- namely, Mike Kelly, the mayor, who, according to Vann, made life very uncomfortable, kept Vann off balance and played mind games for months with the veteran city employee.
If Kelly's behavior toward Vann was not a personal vendetta, then what was it?
Kelly doesn't talk to the Clearwater Gazette & Beach Views. An attempt long ago to get him to explain some funny things in the city were responded to with "Mayor Kelly has been advised by legal counsel not to talk to the Clearwater Gazette & Beach Views."
No clue as to who the legal counsel was. No explanation beyond that. A case simply where a publicly elected official refuses to talk to the only newspaper that consistently carries serious news about his city.
When the funny business of Autogate was happening at the beginning of 2004, questions were asked of the mayor. No response was given.
When an attempt was made to find out why the police chief and the mayor's highly paid assistant searched the office of a police officer, no response was given.
When questions were asked as to what that police officer was being investigated for (he was cleared of any wrongdoing, by the way), no response was given.
Where possible, the people of Belleair Beach have been kept in the dark.
There is no doubt about it. Buell Vann was railroaded out of a job to which he gave the bulk of his working life. Fairness and justice is not a word in the lexicon of the Belleair Beach high command.
While Vann was getting hosed, the City Council virtually sat mute, as it does when any hot issue or questionable situation comes up. They are the original "see nothing, hear nothing, say nothing" legislative body.
Vann wrote a letter to Bert Cutler, council member who was Presiding Officer when Vann was given the heave-ho. Vann understood that promises were made to him. Nothing, he says, was fulfilled.
Vann also talked to a newspaper. And he told things that are so serious and so highly charged that they are being withheld pending full ratification and documentation.
Vann asked Cutler, how about those promises? Whether Cutler would have shared that letter with his colleagues, one does not know.
In any event, Dr. Frank Lombardi, a former council member and deputy mayor who has a sense of justice and fairness, distributed the letter to the council November 15.
This looks like one of those things that won't go away any time soon.
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