Former County Administrator Pat Bean, we want our money back!!!

Here’s the clause from her employment contract…

Bean’s employment ontract — Section 3: Termination and Severance Pay, Paragraph A:
“In the event that Employee is terminated by the BOCC during such time as Employee is willing and able to perform the duties of County Administrator, then the County agrees to continue Employee’s salary and benefits in full force and effect for one half of the period of time between the termination and November 30, 2005, or for six months after termination, which ever is greater, as a severance benefit; provided, however, that in the event Employee is terminated as a result of her commission of any felony, any crime of moral turpitude or any illegal act involving personal gain to her in conjunction with her employment, the County shall have no obligation to make the severance salary and benefits payments designated in this Agreement".

Did she break the law? You bet she did. On September 9, 2011 the Florida Ethics Commission ruled that Pat Bean and Renee Lee violated ethics laws/Florida Statue Chapter 112. Why did the BOCC approve that final payment back in 2010 if the Florida Ethics Commission hadn’t yet made their final determination in that case? The fact of the matter is that the BOCC ignored the ethics case entirely. They just wanted the publicity to end ASAP. They didn’t care about having all of the facts, even if it cost us more money to get it out of their in-box.

Now that we have all of the facts, it did cost us more money. $190K more money. In these tough financial times this is the last thing we need. That $190K could have kept some of the staff that’s being laid off employed a little longer. Maybe it could have been used to keep after school programs intact for another year.

Is Hillsborough County going to get the misappropriated money back? Now that I’ve discovered this gross misappropriation of our money, I’ve sent a letter to the BOCC asking what they’re going to do about it. I’m still waiting for an answer.

Daily Loaf contributor and R-LAND, UCAN, FSP activist
The views expressed are my own and not necessarily the same as organizations to which I belong.

In 2010 Hillsborough’s Board of County Commissioners fired then County Administrator Pat Bean for secretly giving herself and County Attorney Renee Lee a pay raise in 2007. The Hillsborough Board of County Commissioners ended up giving her $190,941 in severance and unused sick and vacation pay. As it turns out, she was not entitled to severance or any sick or vacation pay. Considering all of the staff and lawyers that looked at this case, how could we pay someone $190,941 in error? It’s easy. This is Hillsborough County, and we let politicians make financial decisions based on what is politically expedient.

If you remember, the BOCC dithered for months as to what to do, then finally got up enough gumption to fire her. They also dithered as to what to give her as they booted her out the door. They even hired an independent attorney to evaluate the situation. In the end they came up with a severance of $190,941.

Was she entitled to anything? The answer is no. Her employment contract had a provision dealing with termination. It said that if she got terminated she was entitled to severance and unused vacation and sick time pay. However, she was entitled to absolutely nothing if she broke the law by using her position to gain a personal benefit. Secretly giving herself a raise was not only unethical, it violated her contract and made her ineligible for any severance and/or benefit payout.


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