High Springs City Commissioner May resigns


Published: Tuesday, January 31, 2012 at 8:29 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 31, 2012 at 8:29 a.m.

Politically testy times continue in High Springs with the resignation of City Commissioner Eric May.

In a letter submitted to the city clerk’s office on Monday, May wrote that he felt “our city is on an irreparable course filled with continued cronyism complemented by unethical and illegal behaviors.”

Over the last few months, May has been opposed to a series of decisions the commission majority has made, including a move hiring Interim Manager Jeri Langman.

Another move he opposed took place Monday. Hours before the City Commission was to vote in a special meeting on an agreement for the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office to provide an interim police chief, Langman announced that she had hired from within and named High Springs Police Sgt. Steve Holley as chief.

Days earlier, Langman had promoted Holley from officer to sergeant. That came after former Interim Chief Bill Benck gave two weeks’ notice -- stating that Langman lacked experience to oversee the department- and Langman relieved Benck of his duties immediately.

In a post on his blog on local politics, May said Langman’s decision to “promote a friend” through the ranks to the position of chief “just scratches on the surface of the problems we have here.”

“I can’t put myself through this anymore,” May said Tuesday. “I’m not making a difference. The cronyism is rampant.”

Commissioner Bob Barnas, who first proposed that commissioners hire Langman to replace City Clerk Jenny Parham as interim manager, said nothing improper or unusual occurred in either that hire or the hiring of Holley as chief.

Barnas noted that former City Manager Jim Drumm hired former Police Chief Jim Troiano and that Parham, when serving as interim manager, had terminated Troiano’s contract and promoted Benck.

Barnas said Langman’s decisions do not reflect cronyism but the “will of the majority of the commissioners.”

Last November, May and Commissioner Sue Weller opposed the 3-2 decision to hire Langman, who had no prior government administration experience. May said he felt her hiring raised questions of impropriety because she had supported the campaigns of commissioners, including his own.

Langman was described as someone who could bring organizational skills to city government until a permanent manager is hired. Last week, Commissioner Linda Gestrin motioned to hire Langman as the permanent manager. The motion narrowly failed.

May’s term would have been up in November. Because there are more than six months remaining on it, a majority of the Commission may vote to temporarily appoint a replacement. Then, under the city’s charter, a special election is required within 60 days of May’s resignation to select a commissioner to finish the term.

Contact Christopher Curry at 374-5088 or chris.curry@gvillesun.com.

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