When the Summerfield Town Council voted 4-to-1 earlier this month not to renew the employment contract of Summerfield Town Manager Scott Whitaker, Whitaker didn’t have much of a reaction.

 He just got up from his seat right next to the councilmembers and walked out of the adjourned meeting without saying a word.

At the meeting, there had been a mention by a councilmember of a possibility of a “renegotiation,” and another councilmember spoke highly of Whitaker’s contributions to the town and his vast knowledge of town administration.  There was criticism of  the contract – which was called unfair to the town – but no criticism of Whitaker himself.

However, if there was ever any chance of him keeping his job – and many in Summerfield say there never was at that point – well, Whitaker almost certainly sealed the deal when he finally did speak out by issuing a public statement last week that was critical of the council.

On Monday, Feb. 19 Whitaker sent an email to the town council saying he was expecting the council to stick to “its public word that good-faith negotiations are forthcoming.”

It was somewhat strange given the sound of finality in his previous public statement on the vote.

Whitaker’s statement read, “Council’s decision not to renew my contract wasn’t a matter of failed negotiations nor was it related to performance—there were no substantive discussions with me about either.”

He went on to state, “I learned of Council’s intent moments before their vote. Any narrative that the goal was a negotiation to improve the town’s contract position is a false one, and there was no pressing non-renewal notice deadline.”

It’s not unheard of that local government elected leaders blindside managers with votes – though, often the way it works is that the town or city councilmembers, or the county commissioners, give the manager an opportunity to resign so as to help the manager have a better chance of getting a new job elsewhere.

Whitaker concluded his statement as follows: “Elected officials have broad authority to fire managers; professional managers accept this risk, and letting me go without any severance was Summerfield’s approach. I’ll turn my attention elsewhere—my son, my wife’s cancer battle, and trying to discern God’s best for the next chapter when my contract ends. I’ll greatly miss the good citizens of Summerfield and the dedicated staff who I love.”