At the August 6 Marco Island City Council meeting, Councilor Charlette Roman suggested that the Collier County Clerk of Courts Office be requested to do a possible audit of recent contracts that have been entered into by the city under the supervision of its purchasing manager.
Ms. Lina Upham, who serves as the city’s Purchasing/Risk Manager was involved in a single car accident on July 7. That accident resulted in her arrest for driving under the influence. It was her first such offense and did not involve a city vehicle and did not occur on city time.
Roman caught most of her colleagues off guard with the request, as such actions may run afoul of the City Charter. The Charter forbids council’s involvement with personnel matters. She would be careful to point out she understood it was the city manager’s responsibility to deal with the matter, but would cite council’s responsibility regarding oversight of the city’s finances. “Council has an oversight role in the stewardship of the city’s money,” said Roman.
“Because of the financial implications of this employee’s position do you think we should ask the County Clerk’s Office do an audit or a sampling of some of the city’s contracts?” said Roman in an open-ended question to her colleagues.
She was joined by Councilor Larry Honig in his support of this action. “This is a stunningly good idea. It will show everyone we are transparent and have nothing to hide,” said Honig.
There have been no questions regarding Upham’s performance of her duties or any irregularities that have been reported.
Councilor Howard Reed would respond that he had a discussion with the interim city manager and that it was being handled internally and was subject to the limitations of what we can and cannot do legally.
Neither Roman, nor any of her fellow councilors voiced similar concerns when they dismissed Dr. Lee Niblock as City Manager earlier in the year when allegations of alleged wrong doing were disclosed.
A polling of the council showed there was not unanimous agreement to proceed in this manner. It was then suggested that Roman might reach out to inquire as to what type of service the clerk’s office might be able to offer the council, should they desire to advance the issue further. Roman would report back to the full board at a future meeting.
On September 12, shortly after Hurricane Irma, Ms. Upham had been involved in a motor vehicle accident with a city vehicle. A vehicle exiting the long fuel lines at the 7-Eleven convenience store on Bald Eagle and Elkcam Circle had chosen to exit that line and struck the city vehicle being operated by Upham. Upham and the driver of the other vehicle exchanged information and he incident was reported to Marco Police and a report was written. Upham reported it to her superior and she was not cited for fault regarding that incident.
Standard procedure would be to have a city employee provide a urine sample to detect drugs or alcohol. However, due to the aftermath of the hurricane testing facilities were not available, although Upham could have driven to Physicians Regional Hospital, but that was not deemed necessary as she was not faulted for the accident.