By Jane Smith
Delray Beach City Commissioners fired their City Manager George Gretsas Nov. 20 by a 3-2 vote with Commissioner Adam Frankel and Vice Mayor Ryan Boylston dissenting.
After nearly five months, the vote to terminate with cause means the city will part ways with Gretsas without owing him any money.
“We are hearing allegations and not facts,” Frankel said. “I feel comfortable with the motion to terminate without cause, although I know there are financial consequences.”
Commissioner Juli Casale pointed out that doing so would cost “another $180,000 of taxpayer money.” She was referring to a clause in Gretsas' contract that required a $180,000 payment if he was terminated without cause.
Boylston said, “If I voted for what is best for the city, it would be the motion to terminate with cause. But I can’t make that determination based on what was presented today.”
Boylston called the city’s relationship with Gretsas “irreparable” and brushed aside the third choice of Gretsas returning to his job as the Delray Beach City Manager. Frankel also agreed that the relationship was broken.
Gretsas, who did not attend the hearing because he was in Montana, was suspended with pay on June 24.
On Oct. 21, Gretsas hired new attorneys and they asked for time to prepare his case. The termination hearing was moved to Nov. 20 from Oct. 23. In exchange, the city required Gretsas to give up his $265,000 salary and benefits on Oct. 23.
Following the terms set out in his Oct. 1, 2019 employment contract, the city followed the procedures when parting ways with Gretsas: approved the notice to terminate on June 24, accepted the written charges on Aug. 24 and accepted the investigative report on Oct. 20.
“We followed his employment agreement to the letter,” said City Attorney Lynn Gelin who participated in the hearing as a witness.
Gretsas sent a text after the hearing that read: “No professional City Manager would have sat by quietly after discovering serious issues with the drinking water and corruption at City Hall.
“Although getting fired for speaking the truth is not what’s supposed to happen in America, I did what I had to do to protect the health and safety of the residents of Delray Beach.”
But the three commissioners who voted to fire Gretsas see the issue differently.
“The circus was created by Mr. Gretsas,” said Mayor Shelly Petrolia. He created a paid Facebook page and sent documents to the media about water quality problems in the city.
“We want to take this moment and move on,” she said. “The city is running well, and people feel safe.”