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Sarasota City Manager Resigns

Mayor Suzanne Atwell asks City Manager Robert Bartolotta to submit resignation effective immediately. Terry Lewis, Marlon Brown considered for interim post.

This story has been updated.

It took three votes on a motion, but in the end City Manager Robert Bartolotta was out Tuesday.

The City Commission voted 4-1 to accept Bartolotta's immediate resignation. Theyvote included allowing him to buy into a health care plan at his expense and for the city to spend up to $10,000 in legal fees for outside counsel for Bartolotta. Vice-Mayor Terry Turner cast the lone vote against his resignation.

The subject was brought up by Mayor Suzanne Atwell at the start of the commission meeting.

"We cannot aford months of living under a cloud of uncertainty," she said. "I am seeking a management change."

Atwell said she is in "a different place" than two weeks ago when she could not support a motion by Commissioner Shannon Snyder to and accussations that Bartolotta had spied on employee's e-mails.

After her initial motion failed, a discussion ensued about how much the city should spend to cover Bartolotta's outside counsel, which it is obligated to do if accusations stem from duties and work in Bartolotta's everyday job, regardless if he is still employed by the city.

The commission settled on $10,000, which includes a $7,500 attorney retainer fee. Any amount above $10,000 would have to be reviewed for approval by the commission.

"This is the hardest thing I've done on my three years on the commission," Atwell said.

Turner called the move "a travesty."

"We've convicted and sentenced him without a shred of evidence," he said.

After a statement (see above video), Bartlotta packed up his papers and walked out the chambers and out of City Hall.

"It is with regret that I tender my resignation," he said. "... My regret is that this transition is based on unsubstantiated challenges, charges without merit."

At 3:15 p.m., he sent an e-mail to all city employees:

"Note to All City Employees: It has been my pleasure to serve with you for the last 4 ½ years.

 I have said many times that the City of Sarasota employees are the best in the State of Florida.

You all have persevered during dramatic economic downturns.  Your attitudes have been extremely positive.

Very little press coverage has been devoted to the fact that the city work force is 24% lower than 5 years ago and yet you continue to perform at a high level. It has been my honor and privilege to serve with you.

Bob"

After a five-minute recess, Commission Shannon Snyder shared that he spoke with former interim county administrator Terry Lewis, asking him to serve in the city's interim job if there is unanimous support. The commission was debating, too, whether Deputy City Manager Marlon Brown should be offered the interim post.

Commissioner Willie Charles Shaw said he would need more time to think about it, but said he isn't oppossing Lewis's appointment.

Ultimately, the commission will have a special meeting at 10 a.m. Friday to discuss appointing an interim manager.

Lewis took over for Sarasota County after allegations forced former county administrator Jim Ley out of office. 

The city will also discuss at a later meeting paying for legal counsel for Brown should he also be formally accused in a lawsuit.

Stay with Patch for continued updates.

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