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Brentwood Parks Director Ousted From City

The Brentwood Board of Aldermen was divided on the firing of Michele Frankowski, who worked for the city for 14 years.

The director of Brentwood's parks department was removed from her position on Tuesday.

Michele Frankowski, 42, resigned as director of the on Tuesday morning after being told by City Administrator Bola Akande that the Brentwood Board of Aldermen voted to terminate her employment, Frankowski said on Thursday. She was escorted from her office by two Brentwood detectives, she said.

The board was divided 4-4 in firing Frankowski during a closed meeting following Monday's regularly-scheduled open meeting. Mayor Pat Kelly broke the tie, electing to terminate Frankowski's employment.

The details of the vote haven't been released to the public, though several members of the board confirmed the split vote. None were comfortable speaking publicly about the vote because it's an ongoing personnel matter.

Frankowski told Patch her account of the circumstances that led to her removal. Akande declined to discuss the issue, saying the city does not comment on personnel matters, but a memo by Akande to Frankowski seems to confirm the tone of the dispute.

The disagreements began when Frankowski started auditing how much money Brentwood pays Richmond Heights for access to . Both cities belong to the , and Brentwood residents are able to pay residential rates because Brentwood's tax dollars pick up a portion of the remaining costs.

Frankowski discovered that Brentwood had subsidized costs for members who lived outside Brentwood, Frankowski said. To prevent future errors, Richmond Heights officials wanted to add a step for Brentwood residents: Before signing up as members, they would visit the to pick up a slip.

Frankowski, instead, asked that Richmond Heights validate memberships. That disagreement led Frankowski into Akande's office on Nov. 8, when Frankowski sought Akande's support. 

Akande , and Frankowski said she believed Akande could mediate the situation, she said.

The two disagreed, which led to a heated exchange, Frankowski said. Both sides spoke in raised voices, she said, though no name calling or inappropriate language was used. 

Frankowski supplied Patch with copies of the memos later exchanged between Akande and Frankowski.

In the memo sent to Frankowski on Nov. 30, Akande wrote, "Michele (sic), your behavior was improper, your action was disrespectful, boisterous and disruptive and a deliberate act of insubordination."

Frankowski responded with a memo on Dec. 1, saying she disagreed with Akande's description of the conversation.

"I should not be disciplined for the way in which I spoke if I was spoken to in the same manner," Frankowski wrote.

Her memo also mentions previous disagreements about the city's budgeting process and notes that employee morale has been "severely impacted" by the "negative public relations, scandals and internal inequities amongst departments" in 2011.

Five days later, Frankowski was given the option to resign or be fired, she said. By resigning, she was able to keep her accrued vacation pay.

The forced resignation came as a surprise to Frankowski, who said she had always received the highest ratings in her annual reviews. She worked a total of 14 years in the city: 1994-2004 and 2008 to Dec. 6, with a stint at Ellisville in the middle.

She said was most surprised that no one asked to speak with her about the incident, including the elected officials who fired her and the city's labor attorney, who was present during the closed meeting on Monday night.

Shanahan December 09, 2011 at 08:33 PM
sounds like Bola Akande cant accept other people's opinions, her way or the highway.
Stephen Davis December 09, 2011 at 09:10 PM
Sounds to me like the wrong person was let go. Have always enjoyed the friendly park staff and have know Michele for close to twenty years. What a shame! Stephen D.
Concerned citizen December 12, 2011 at 09:08 PM
Nice going......firing a single mom with two kids two weeks before Christmas. So the mayor, his cronies on the board and cronie city administrator fired the department head (Ms. Frankowski) with the exemplary record, while writing letters for Chris Seemayer and allowing lucrative retirement, severence packages and new positions to the people responsible for years of criminal activity and wasteful spending of Brentwood tax dollars. When the mayor mentioned that "other employees" were responsible for managing the golf tournment this year and making a profit of $10,000, he failed to give credit to the two people in charge which happened to be Ms. Frankowski and the police chief. It seems that Ms. Akande needs to familiarize herself with the employee manual in handling personnel matters. By the way, I believe that the city administrator's job description states that she is the financial officer, so why is the City of Brentwood about to spend $75,000 - $90,000 on another financial officer? Did Ms. Akande follow appropriate bidding procedures when she hired the HR person, who is currently the full time HR person at Richmond Heights? Wake up citizens of Brentwood - something still smells and the innocent are suffering.
Ryan Martin (Editor) December 15, 2011 at 10:22 PM
The roll call vote has now been made available to Patch. Barb Clements (Ward 1), Lee Wynn (Ward 2), Keith Robertson (Ward 3) and Tom Kramer (Ward 4) all voted to terminate Frankowski. Anthony Harper (Ward 1), Mike Marshall (Ward 2), Andy Leahy (Ward 3) and Lorraine Krewson (Ward 4) all voted against the termination.
concerned citizen December 16, 2011 at 02:27 AM
Will the City of Brentwood also be hiring the new financial officer from Richmond Heights? Maybe we can get the mayor to come across the highway too! Why do we need a financial officer if it is part of Ms. Akande's job description? The political jockeying at Brentwood City Hall is nothing short of a disgrace. Does anyone know anything about professional personnel management?

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