WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — City hall underwent a shake-up Thursday when Mayor Jeri Muoio fired Finance Director Randy Sherman and city spokesman Chase Scott resigned under pressure.
Sherman had the option to resign but refused, sources told The Palm Beach Post. The department head who has overseen the city's $165 million budget for nearly five years was escorted out of city hall by security.
Muoio and City Administrator Ed Mitchell did not return calls late Thursday for comment. Sherman's city-provided cellphone was shut off.
Mitchell informed city commissioners Thursday evening of Muoio's decision to fire Sherman, who earned more than $150,000 a year and helped the city cut more than $40 million from its budget during the recession.
Commissioners contacted Thursday said they did not know what led to Sherman's firing.
Though he received high marks for his handling of the budget, Sherman's stay at the city was marked by issues with subordinates and an accusation by a former employee in 2010 of sexual and racial discrimination.
Scott, who worked with the media for Muoio and former Mayor Lois Frankel, said Thursday night that he had philosophical differences with city officials over how much information they provided the public.
"I felt the media and the public needed more information from the city," Scott said.
Sources said Muoio gave him an opportunity to resign or be fired. While he denied that Muoio had forced him to resign, he said he is pursuing other job opportunities.
Scott denied that his departure had anything to do with an incident last week when police said they could not reach him to put out information about a missing baby.
Scott said he had called in sick that day but responded 35 minutes after police reached out to him. He also said he contacted members of the media, although a Post reporter said he didn't respond for hours. He said he worked into the night even though he was sick.
He also said he worked on his own time the previous weekend to help Muoio write her State of Our City address.
Sherman, who came to the city from Manchester, N.H., was praised at times by commissioners, but also criticized for heavy-handedness.
In 2009, Sherman was ordered to receive counseling on employee relations after a worker alleged that he screamed and shook his fists at her, forcing her to be hospitalized for more than two days with high blood pressure and chest pain.
Former Risk Manager Ann Marie Sharp filed a racial and sexual discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against Sherman in 2010 after she was fired. The findings of that investigation were not immediately available late Thursday.