tampabay.com

Stanton may make case against firing

By LORRI HELFAND
Published March 2, 2007


LARGO - City Manager Steve Stanton says he wants to keep his job and is seriously considering challenging his pending termination.

"I love being the city manager," Stanton, 48, said Thursday. "It's a dream job, and I'm not looking at doing anything else right now."

Tuesday night, a week after Stanton acknowledged he planned to have gender-reassignment surgery and change his name to Susan, the City Commission adopted a preliminary resolution to remove him. It also placed him on paid leave until a final decision is made.

That vote started a process during which Stanton can ask for a hearing to make his case.

Stanton received a copy of the resolution Thursday and has five days to request the hearing.

If Stanton asks for a public hearing, commissioners are required to hold it no sooner than 15 days and no more than 30 days after his request.

If Stanton does not request the hearing, the City Commission can make his termination final within five days of the day he received a copy of the resolution. The commission meets Tuesday, but the issue is not on the agenda.

If Stanton, who makes $140,234, is fired, he would receive a 12-month severance package.

Stanton said he will request an appeal if he can prepare a presentation that thoroughly addresses various issues and concerns raised by commissioners and the community about transgender people.

But, otherwise, he said, he doesn't want to put additional stress on employees.

Tuesday, nearly 500 people showed up for the meeting to discuss Stanton's employment. Extra officers were on duty and the staff set up a registration area and additional rooms to accommodate the crowd.

"If I can't put together a decent appeal, I'm not going to disrupt the city organization," Stanton said.

Stanton also said it was too soon to say whether he would file a lawsuit to regain his job if the dismissal goes through.

Lorri Helfand can be reached at lorri@sptimes.com or 727 445-4155.