It was a very somber Michael McNees, City Manager for Marco Island who made the relatively short walk from his corner office at City Hall to the downstairs lobby of the Marco Police Headquarters. He would be there to answer a number of questions from various media outlets regarding the swirling rumors concerning recent suspensions of both Fire Chief Chris Byrne and Police Chief Tracy Frazzano.
Those two suspensions took effect on Monday, February 1 and were announced via a Press Release that same day.
McNees took that action to conduct a thorough investigation to insure both Byrne and Frazzano, as well as the citizens were given a totally transparent review of all the facts. Links are provided in this article to both of the “Findings of Facts,” by the City Manager. Both department heads will be offered a 24-hour period to request a “predetermination meeting” with the manager before his decision is made final. That suspension will take effect no later than March 1, 2021. This will be an unpaid suspension and no city benefits will accrue during that time.
It would be McNees who would comment that he believed Chief Byrne’s instinct was to assist Chief Frazzano, given the challenges she and her husband were facing in regard to her health issues. Byrne would choose to overlook a report that one reservation was made a few moments ahead of the official start time of the reservation window being opened.
Ironically, it would be Chief Byrne that would report his decision to not halt the process regarding reservations on January 20 to McNees, or to deny Mr. Frazzano his vaccination during that scheduled day for his shot. Byrne’s coming forward would begin the process which had led to the investigation announced on February 1 via a Press Release. That investigation would lead to McNees’ subsequent decision to suspend the two department heads for 30 days. Both Byrne and Frazzano were nothing less than cooperative and forthcoming according to McNees throughout his review of the circumstances surrounding the incident.
“This was no more than a couple of bad judgement calls by two excellent public servants. I understand the frustration and the anger by some in the public, but I don’t think we’ll see this happen again,” said McNees.
McNees would go on to explain that it was after the reservation was made, that the problem came about in allowing Mr. Frazzano to proceed to get his actual vaccination. “It was not Chief Frazzano’s intention to let her husband cut the line. She had no idea that the link she had provided her husband was live. She did not believe the link was hot until the 2pm start time, and I believe her,” said McNees.
It would be McNees who would point out that it was through Byrne’s efforts that these vaccines have been made available to island residents. “It is our desire to be fair, transparent and help our residents get reservations,” said McNees.
When asked by the CBN as to whether this was the most difficult decision he has had to make during his professional career, McNees would answer in the affirmative. “There are no right answers in this, as some will believe I have been too harsh, others will feel I’ve been too lenient. But this isn’t about me. There has to be accountability and that is my responsibility to insure that happens,” said McNees.
When and if the two Chiefs will request a predetermination hearing is unknown at this time. McNees is confident in the chain of command in place within both the fire and police departments and positive there will be no decrease in service levels within either department.