Coral Gables's new city manager has stepped down less than a week into his new job. Last Tuesday, city commissioners unanimously voted to appoint Jim Beard to the post. But problems unearthed during a background check appear to have scuppered the appointment.
"Mr. Beard has withdrawn his name from consideration," city spokeswoman Maria Rosa Higgins Fallon confirmed to Riptide. "His nomination was pending salary negotiation and background check."
The exact circumstances surrounding the abrupt U-turn are still unclear. Higgins Fallon said she was not sure what, exactly, was the cause for concern in Beard's background.
City officials, however, during the commission meeting suggested a "personal bankruptcy" case was the concern; the Herald reports that allegations of child abuse also surfaced.
Reached by phone, Beard declined to comment.
Beard spent the past four years as chief financial officer for Atlanta. Before that, he served as the treasurer of Palm Beach County from 2006 to 2010 and worked in private financial services.
Whatever its cause, the incident has clearly embarrassed the City of Coral Gables.
"It's an embarrassment to this city and this commission to have candidates enter into this position who has not been screened for criminal background or credit background," said businessman Manny Kadre during the meeting. "Everyone's got a little egg on their face. Let's call it like it is. The process didn't go quite right."
"I have never seen a process where a slate of candidates has been brought to a panel and have not been fully vetted," Kadre added. "It just doesn't happen."
"These certain elements came to light because we did our own background check," said commissioner Vince Lago, bemoaning the more than $40,000 spent on the candidate search.
Commissioners spent about half an hour debating on the best way to repair the damage, including whether to ask interim administrators to stay on or immediately launch another candidate search.
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"If we are going to do this for a second time," Lago said of a search for candidates, "I want to make sure we use every resource at our disposal to make sure this doesn't happen again."