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    City attorney, manager receive evaluations

    By Times staff writers

    © St. Petersburg Times, published October 20, 2000

    City commissioners gave both interim City Manager Bill Horne and City Attorney Pam Akin positive grades Thursday night during their annual evaluations.

    Although Horne has been on the job only three months, commissioners told him that he was keeping them better informed and was helping to stabilize the city's government after a period of controversy under former City Manager Mike Roberto.

    "Overall, you've done a very good job, brought much-needed integrity to this position," Mayor Brian Aungst said.

    Commissioner J.B. Johnson told Horne, "You've been straightforward and upright. I have never found anyone that's more obliging to help people than you are."

    Among the few criticisms stated, commissioners suggested that Horne needs to try hard to be reachable and continue keeping them as informed as possible.

    Akin also was praised for her professionalism and given an 8 percent raise to her salary of about $98,000.

    "You truly have had quite a job trying to keep some of the rascals up here out of trouble," Commissioner Ed Hooper told her.

    Employees applaud health care contract

    The City Commission improved, then approved next year's employee health insurance contract on Thursday, drawing applause from about 24 employees who had earlier protested outside City Hall.

    The employees carried signs that said "Stabilization Fund should be for our families' insurance, not the Phillies." The signs referred to city plans to take $2-million out of an insurance reserve fund to help build a training complex for the baseball team -- rather than to offset rising health insurance costs for employees.

    The commission spent an hour discussing the details of insurance and then voted to cut costs for employees with families, drawing applause from employees in the audience.

    As a result, employee families will get a break of $123 in their costs next year, rather than a bigger bill. Coverage for Clearwater employees with families was far worse than other local cities' employees, city officials said. The cut means Clearwater will be closer to average.

    Under the new plan, the city's annual cost for health insurance is rising roughly 24 percent to about $5.4-million. Single employees who opt for more than a basic HMO deal will pay about $100 to $445 more due to passed-on cost increases, officials said.

    Officer's harassment lawsuit is settled

    The City Commission agreed to pay $46,250 to a former police officer to settle a federal lawsuit alleging she was sexually harassed during training and then fired in retaliation for complaining.

    The suit contended that former recruit Sherry Cason was blackballed by other Clearwater officers and improperly touched by another officer who ultimately was convicted of battery with sexual overtones because of her complaints.

    Administrative position won't be replaced

    Interim City Manager Bill Horne won't replace John Asmar, the city's planning and development administrator who resigned under pressure this week, saving the city up to $103,000 annually, according to budget documents. Asmar's position will be eliminated as part of a streamlining, Horne said. The heads of the planning department and the building department will report directly to the city manager's office.

    - Compiled by Christina Headrick. Times files were used to complete this report.

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