There was a special village council meeting on Monday, Oct. 7, regarding a change to the contract of Palmetto Bay village manager Ed Silva.
The change, proposed in a resolution sponsored by Mayor Karyn Cunningham, involved the addition of a severance package should the manager resign. The meeting was scheduled as a one hour session taking place before the regular council meeting at 7 p.m. but lasted for two hours.
Before the vote, 14 residents came to the microphone to express their views, and there was discussion by all members of the village council. Resident comments were divided, with many praising and supporting the village manager, others criticizing him and saying he should be fired, and some saying that now was the wrong time to be doing this with so many projects pending.
Silva has served as village manager since 2015 when he replaced retiring manager Ron Williams. Silva had been the city’s director of building and capital projects from 2007 to 2015. His contract with the village was not self-renewing and was set to expire in June 2020.
Silva said that he wants the residents to understand that it was strictly a business decision.
He praised his staff for the work they have done.
“We have done many wonderful things in the last five years that you all should be proud of,” Silva said. “I am very proud to have worked with this team of professionals.
“Although you may not agree with all individual decisions made by a council, remember that they’re a representative body and it’s their policy that sets the tone and direction for this village as a collective group.,” he said. “To this council, I respectfully ask that you put your differences aside, put your residents in this village first. If you do that, this village will become even greater than it is today.”
Mayor Cunningham in a post meeting release gave a recap of the session.
“Last Monday, in addition to our regular meeting, I called a Special Council Meeting to discuss the manager’s contract. The council passed on a 4-1 vote to provide a severance package upon resignation as a part of the manager’s contract. I am sensitive to the fact that change is difficult for the community and our staff, but I am confident that together we will work to move forward and have a seamless transition. Mr. Silva has agreed to stay with us until Jan. 15 in order to allow for appropriate transition and for us to conduct a broad and orderly process to search for our next village manager.”
Councilmember David Singer, who sent out numerous emails about the nature of the special council meeting and his views about terminating the manager, spoke at length and made charges about the mayor and her motives.
“I’m going to clear up some of the kind of misconceptions,” Singer said. “I’m going to be asking the village manager specific questions on what went down in his meeting with the mayor where she threatened to fire him if he did not resign on Thursday and some other questions. I’ll also be going through his contract where there are specific policies regarding his termination that were not followed, and that I believe gives him the right to sue the village.”
Vice Mayor John DuBois stated that he had always been very open about disagreements he had had with Silva, but did request an amendment to the resolution allowing for the manager’s medical coverage to continue for a time.
Councilmember Patrick Fiore asked why the manager had to leave before his current contract expires next June, and said it would be better to simply wait until then.
Councilmember Marsha Matson asked about the terms of the severance package and how much it would cost.
Village attorney Dexter Lehtinen was not present but a partner from his firm was sitting in for him. He stated that the cost of the severance package, based on a percentage of Silva’s annual salary of $175,000, would be about $60,000 plus some other benefits or expenses.
When the resolution finally came to a vote it was passed 4-1 with Councilmember David Singer casting the only “no” vote.
The video of the meeting can be viewed at