Approve contract, end Tincher dispute

Published May 17, 2007

It hasn't been quite six weeks since we condemned an agreement between the city of Brooksville and former police Chief Ed Tincher as being lopsided in Tincher's favor.

In addition to allowing the 29-year employee to remain on unpaid leave through the end of this year, the agreement would have paid Tincher $28, 000, created a misleading perception that he left voluntarily, and prevented the city from investigating "any action taken by Tincher as police chief."

Such a blanket pardon for an employee who has a history of management by intimidation was indeed generous. But the deal was not completed because City Attorney David La Croix declared it void after accusing Tincher's lawyer, Ronald Freeman, of surreptitiously altering the document. Tincher countered by suing the city for breach of contract.

Now Tincher has a new lawyer, Andrew Saltzman, who is attempting to reach a settlement with the city by making Tincher's lawsuit go away in exchange for the city approving an agreement almost exactly like the original. La Croix said he will forward the proposal to the City Council, but would not recommend its approval unless Tincher and Freeman pay part of the city's legal bills and apologize to the people Tincher insulted at a news conference last month.

La Croix's stipulation is both petulant and meaningless. Even if Tincher apologized, it would not be sincere, and La Croix is just as responsible as Tincher for the legal bills that have ensued since the original agreement was voided because he signed it without carefully reviewing it and flagging Freeman's last-minute changes.

This ego-driven dispute has dragged on too long. Even though the original agreement the city offered Tincher was gratuitously charitable, we now believe it would be better for the council to approve it and move on.

This nasty squabble continues to cast a pall over City Hall at a time when employees should be recovering from the embarrassment of the past few months and looking forward to new beginnings under new leadership. Concluding this distasteful business with Tincher is necessary to clear the air.