River Cities

Miami Springs city manager keeps job, but barely

Special to the Miami Herald

City Manager Ron Gorland rides his bicycle, in 2012, near the Curtiss Mansion.
City Manager Ron Gorland rides his bicycle, in 2012, near the Curtiss Mansion. For the Miami Herald

Miami Springs City Manager Ron Gorland was aghast at last week’s council meeting when leaders voted 3-2 to keep him during a vote of confidence.

Gorland, who earns $194,443 in salary and benefits, is the city’s highest-paid employee. He has been city manager four years.

Though he kept his job, by just one vote, a stunned Gorland sought answers from the two council members who voted to oust him.

“Is it inappropriate for me to ask for clarification?” asked Gorland, timidly, after the vote was taken. “I’m just wondering what’s the issue?”

There was no public discussion by city officials before the tally, just a rapid-fire vote on Oct. 12.

“I don’t want to discuss it over the public,” Vice Mayor Billy Bain said after casting a no vote. “I think it would be very unfair for me to discuss it in public.”

Bain did not reply to an email from the Herald asking why he voted no.

“I feel the same way as Bain and I am going to have to say no,” said Councilwoman Rosie Buckner at the Oct. 12 meeting before casting her vote.

Buckner explained her decision to the Herald last Friday via email.

“I felt that I wasn’t being provided with the necessary tools and information to do the job I was elected to do,” wrote Buckner.

It remains unclear whether council members will discuss their lack of confidence in the manager through future public or private meetings.

“In the present case, and in spite of the fact that I have not personally spoken to either Councilwoman Buckner or Vice Mayor Bain about their plans to conduct meetings with the city manager, it is my clear impression that they each intend to conduct private, separate, and independent meetings with the city manager,” City Attorney Jan Seiden wrote in an email to the Miami Herald.

One-on-one meetings between the city manager and members of the City Commission during which public issues are discussed may be a violation of the state’s sunshine law, according to Florida First Amendment Foundation President Barbara Petersen.

“Such meetings certainly violate the spirit and intent of the law, even if not a technical violation,” Petersen said.

The next city council meeting will be 7 p.m.Monday, Oct. 26 at City Hall, 201 Westward Dr.