Riviera Beach city manager resigns

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Friday, September 05, 2008

RIVIERA BEACH The city council voted tonight to accept the resignation of Bill Wilkins, who has served as city manager for the past nine years and during the 1980s.

Wilkins did not tell the council why he wanted to resign during an emotional meeting in which several residents spoke out in support of the veteran city manager.

Riviera Beach City Manager Bill Wilkins resigns.

Instead, he let his attorney, Jacob Rose, negotiate his severance agreement with the city council.

"I felt it was time," Wilkins, 61, said after the council voted to accept his resignation, noting that he had heart surgery in January. "My health was not going to get any better. It's extremely stressful."

Wilkins was placed on paid leave Tuesday by City Council Chairman Cedrick Thomas. The decision was ratified by a 3-2 council vote Wednesday.

Thomas made the decision to put Wilkins on leave after learning that the city manager had delayed action on an investigation into the contracting practices of Robbie Littles, the city's risk manager.

Although the city received the report from a law firm on July 25, 2007, Wilkins put Littles on paid leave Tuesday and asked him to respond to the report's allegations by Monday.

Wilkins said the investigation figured into his decision to resign.

After residents suggested that Thomas acted improperly by putting Wilkins on leave, Thomas said he did not want to see Wilkins leave the city, then left the meeting before the council voted on the city manager's resignation.

The vote was 3-to-1. Lynne Hubbard dissented, saying she wanted to pay Wilkins two years' salary instead of one.

Terms of Wilkins' severance package include a year's salary of $160,688, a $500-a-month car allowance for two years, medical and life insurance for two years and another $41,007 needed to make him vested in a state pension fund.

Wilkins will remain available by telephone to the city staff for two years to help them make the transition to a new manager.

Wilkins was city manager from 1979 to 1987, when he was fired by the council. He then worked as an assistant county administrator before being rehired as city manager in 1999.

Several residents criticized the council for causing Wilkins to resign.

"When Bill leaves, you'll be right behind him because March is coming," said Emma Bates, referring to next spring's city elections.




Riviera Beach's city manager suspended,
faulted for not acting on report

RIVIERA BEACH City Manager Bill Wilkins has been suspended for delaying action on a report that makes allegations of improper contracting practices by Robbie Littles, the city's risk manager.

Council Chairman Cedrick Thomas suspended Wilkins Tuesday after he learned that a report about Littles had been sitting on the city manager's desk and that Wilkins apparently had taken no action.

Riviera Beach City Manager Bill Wilkins has been suspended for delaying action on a report.

The city council ratified the suspension in a 3-2 vote tonight, putting Wilkins on administrative leave.

Council members Shelby Lowe and Lynne Hubbard voted against the suspension.

Hubbard said the action was premature.  "We don't know that the employee (Littles) is guilty of anything," Hubbard said, noting that Wilkins needed time to investigate the allegations.  [ed. Mr. Wilkins had the report for 13 months without acting....]

Lowe disagreed with Thomas' decision to suspend Wilkins without consulting other council members.  [ed. Consultations between Council Members in private, is a violation of the Florida Government in the Sunshine statutes.]

Littles, a former West Palm Beach city commissioner, also has been placed on leave pending further investigation.

City spokeswoman Rose Anne Brown said the report about Littles, part of an internal investigation, apparently was leaked to the public, copied and distributed.

A special meeting has been set for 5 p.m. Friday to discuss Wilkins' suspension.

Residents criticized Thomas for suspending Wilkins without first consulting the council.

"I made this decision of my own merit without asking any of my colleagues," Thomas said in response. "The council had the right to ratify or nullify."