Hollywood City Manager, Under Investigation by Feds, Bails Before He Can be Fired

Hollywood City Manager Cameron Benson didn't want last night's commission meeting to be his political funeral, so he made the decision to quit during a meeting recess.

Benson was taking a lot of heat from Mayor Peter Bober for a few things yesterday -- a $10.3 million budget deficit (an estimated $25 million gap for next year), an FBI investigation, another internal investigation, forcing pay cuts for all city employees, and firing 31 others.

Not everyone wanted Benson to go, though.

Several citizens went to bat for Benson during the commission meeting after Bober called him out, and his resignation was passed by the commission by just one vote.

Much like the city manager situation in Lauderdale Lakes, the commissioners didn't wholeheartedly blame Benson for the financial problems -- they admitted the blame should be shared among themselves.

The sheer lack of oversight by commissioners in these cities has made it difficult to rid themselves of city managers driving their cities into the ground, even amid FBI and internal investigations.

The commissioners still don't seem to understand the financial emergency that Hollywood is in, as three of them defected on the vote to accept Benson's resignation.

"I think Cameron's done some amazing and wonderful things for the city of Hollywood," Commissioner Heidi O'Sheenan is reported as saying to Bober. "But I think after the speech that you've just made, you've completely undercut his authority and ability to continue to manage the city of Hollywood."

Even Bober admits he should take part of the blame but has pinned the budget issue on Benson.

"I want a city manager who has the skill set to deal with very hard times," Bober said earlier to the Miami Herald. "We need to dismiss the city manager, and it needs to be done today.''

Regardless of the support of the public at the meeting as well as the commissioners, Benson's resignation was still approved.

Meanwhile, it's unclear whether the investigations into Benson will continue.

The Herald reports that Benson's FBI investigation stemmed from two unsigned letters sent to the city.

He was accused of taking a generator purchased by police, taking gifts from a garbage company that won a contract with the city, having a city employee drive furniture to his summer home in Nova Scotia, and harassing Hollywood's female employees -- treating the city like a "locker room," according to the letters.

Benson had been with the city since 1995 and had held the $200,000-plus city manager post since 2002.

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Matthew Hendley
Contact: Matthew Hendley