A city council in Clearwater, Florida, voted 3-2 this week to begin the process of firing City Manager Jon Jennings, according to a report in the Tampa Bay Times.
Jennings was the city manager of both Portland from 2015 until November 2021, when he left the job before his contract expired to take the job in Clearwater.
Jennings faced criticism during his tenure in Portland. His feud with former mayor Ethan Strimling during his time in office often spilled into the public. Former city councilor Kim Cook told the Phoenix in November that Jennings had “an agenda,” of his own. Protesters, led by the local anti-racist coalition Black P.O.W.E.R., called for his resignation during the summer of 2020.
Before he was Portland’s city manager, Jennings was assistant city manager for South Portland from 2013 to 2015. He was also a founder, president and general manager of the Maine Red Claws and served in President Bill Clinton’s administration.
The vote in Clearwater comes after Jennings has been on the city manager job for roughly 13 months. It occurred at a meeting where the Clearwater council was discussing whether to give Jennings a raise.
Instead, council member Lina Teixeira made a motion to fire Jennings, which was supported by Clearwater Mayor Frank Hibbard and fellow council member Kathleen Beckman. The other two council members, Mark Bunker and David Albritton, voted no on the motion.
Hibbard brought up the conversation and mentioned that prior to the council meeting, he told Jennings that he felt he wasn’t the “right fit” for Clearwater, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
Albritton wasn’t ready to fire Jennings, especially a week before Christmas, according to the report. He said he believed Jennings’ shortcomings were largely due to lingering effects of COVID-19, which Jennings had in January.
Other councilors cited displeasure with his communication style, and a lack of ability to inform them in a timely manner.
In order to make the action final, a second vote is required, which is scheduled for Jan. 5.