Monday, February 8, marked the starting date of the 30-day suspensions of both Police Chief Tracy Frazzano and Fire Chief Chris Byrne. The suspensions followed an investigation of their involvement in the issues surrounding the one breach of the Eventbrite Vaccine Reservation Process which allowed Chief Frazzano’s husband to enter the reservation process ahead of its official opening to the general public on January 20.
City Council and residents were made aware of that breach as part of a press release on February 1 by the City Manager’s Office. Only the City Manager may deal with personnel issues, and Council is prohibited by the Charter any involvement in matters concerning personnel issues.
City Manager Michael McNees spoke to Council and the public during the Council meeting on the evening of February 1, explaining he was in the process of reviewing all the facts regarding the events of January 20 and hoped to have a report finalized within 24 to 48 hours.
On Wednesday, February 3, at 5:30 p.m., McNees held a press conference reporting his findings to the public and those in attendance.
During that press event, McNees explained 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 2 p.m. start time, and I believe her,” said McNees.
McNees commented that he believed Chief Byrne’s instinct was to assist Chief Frazzano, given the challenges she and her husband were facing with regard to her health issues. Byrne chose to overlook a report that one reservation was made a few moments ahead of the official start time of the reservation window being opened. Neither of the two department heads took actions after the incident to remedy the situation.
“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.
In a press release dated February 5, McNees announced that 30-day official suspensions of both department heads would commence on February 8. “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 it is my responsibility to ensure that happens,” said McNees.
Deputy Fire Chief David Batiato will assume command of the Marco Fire/Rescue Department and Captain David Baer will assume command at the Marco Island Police Department during the suspension periods.