Town Attorney May Soon Lose His Job

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New Fort Myers Beach Town Council member Karen Woodson wants Town Attorney John Herin replaced and she wants him replaced now. This week Woodson made it clear she doesn’t trust Herin.

Woodson’s campaign included changing the culture in Town Hall which she believed was toxic under previous Town Manager Roger Hernstadt. Woodson received more votes than any other candidate in the election last November. Hernstadt saw the writing on the wall when both Woodson and John King were elected and both said during the campaign that he needed to go. Hernstadt resigned before the new town council could fire him.

Now it’s Herin’s turn to feel the heat.

At the town council meeting this week Woodson said that Herin has a long history with Hernstadt and its time to start fresh. “We need to move forward with the culture change.” Woodson wanted the town council to immediately replace Herin with another attorney from his firm until a new attorney could be hired.

The full council didn’t support seating another attorney from Herin’s firm who didn’t understand the day-to-day issues of the town like Herin does. However, they did vote 4-1 to start the process to look for a new firm to represent the town.

Councilman Bill Veach, who under the previous council was consistently in the majority, is often a man on an island now. He said the process to replace Herin bothered him. “I’ve never been given a reason not to trust him (Herin). This comes at a huge cost to the town, a loss of institutional knowledge.” Veach said what the council was doing to Herin was insulting and he accused Woodson of violating the town’s rules and procedures, although he didn’t specify how she did that. He said he was concerned about the motivation for the change. Woodson fired back and said “everyone has an opinion of who they trust and who they don’t trust.”

Mayor Dan Allers is no fan of Herin. The last time Herin’s contract came up for renewal, he voted against it. Allers supported the launch of a search to find a new attorney.

For years council members have discussed the need to have a local attorney represent them. Herin’s office is located on the east coast of Florida. Addressing the issue of his eventual firing, Herin said to the council. “I’m here to help you all. I’m here and I’m available, 24/7, whether I’m here or 100 miles away.”

The town has already received one letter of interest from attorney’s John Miller and John Agnew from the firm Boy, Agnew, Potanovic and Miller. The firm is located in Fort Myers. You can read their letter of interest HERE.

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