26 June 2024

City Commission fires City Manager Al Childress - Special alert - June 26, 2024

Essential human-curated Florida Keys news, all in one place. 

Subscribe to Key West Voices for free. See something that should be in Voices? Click here to share it with us.

Our Community

Linda Grist Cunningham

Fired. By a 4-3 vote, the Key West City Commission voted today to terminate the contract of City Manager Al Childress during an often contentious meeting that lasted over three hours. Video of the meeting can be seen here (part 1) and here (part 2)
  • Public opposed. Not one of many dozens of public comments (submitted by email before the meeting, or on Zoom or in person during the meeting) was offered in support of the termination. 
  • Weekley rejects compromise. Vice Mayor Sam Kaufman was unsuccessful in persuading Commissioner Jimmy Weekly to consider a compromise or a delay.
  • Rehire? A special meeting has been called for August 26th (after the August election results are certified and the new Mayor and one new Commissioner are sworn in) to consider rehiring Childress. Two additional commissioners may be certified following elections in August or November. It is not known whether Childress would seek to regain his job. 
  • Lawsuit(s) possible. Lawyers for the City and Childress disagreed on whether Childress is eligible for whistleblower protection under Florida statues. He was said to have filed complaints about misconduct by the city's Chief Building Officer (who is the brother of the city attorney) with several entities, including the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the FBI.  
  • Interim city manager likely. The Commission intends to hire former assistant City Manager Todd Stoughton, who resigned abruptly on June 14th as interim City Manager. It was reported that Stoughton is willing to serve in an interim, but not permanent basis. 
  • Front page news. Expect front page coverage of this story soon from the Citizen, Keys Weekly, WLRN, and the Miami Herald. Linda Cunningham's Facebook post is already up.

Previously in Key West Voices

Here is a repeat of our coverage published the day before the meeting. 

'Bubba uprising' at KW City Hall. In what local columnist Linda Cunningham dubbed a 'bubba uprising,' political intrigue is swirling around Key West's City Manager, who may be out of a job as early as Wednesday, June 26th.
(We don't) love that dirty water. FloridaHealth for Monroe County issued a press release detailing unsafe water due to enteric bacteria, an indication of fecal pollution. Only two of ten Monroe beaches' water was rated 'Good.' Water at Higgs, Smathers, and South beaches in Key West was rated 'Poor' and advisories were issued.

DeSantis cuts arts funding. Several organizations in the Florida Keys will need to seek funds from another source following Gov. Ron DeSantis’ veto of $26 million in grants for the arts.
  • MARC hit. The director of Monroe Association for ReMARCable Citizens, a nonprofit which is the only provider of services to adults with developmental disabilities in the Keys, wrote a letter to the editor to protest the cuts.
  • $800,000 local impactChris Hamilton detailed local impacts of the cut, which made national news. Impacted organizations include Waterfront Playhouse, Bahama Village Music Program, Mel Fisher and History of Diving Museums, Monroe County Council of the Arts, Key West Art & Historical Society, Key West Literary Seminar, Reef Environmental Education Foundation, and Red Barn Theatre.
Unopposed. Across the Florida Keys, 20 political races were settled outright on June 14, when the qualifying period for county and state races ended with no other opponents on the ballot.
Statewide referenda. Keys Weekly gave us a concise summary of six proposed amendments to the Florida Comnstitution we'll vote on this fall, address topics including abortion, marijuana, and school boards. 

TDC director job search. The Florida Keys is hiring a new president and CEO of the Tourist Development Council, Monroe County’s multimillion-dollar tourism agency.