DESTIN — At the City Council’s June 28 special meeting to discuss the city’s planned Royal Melvin Heritage Park, an obviously frustrated City Manager Carisse LeJeune told the council she does not take direction from her staff.

Those and other comments at that meeting might help shed light on why Destin City Councilman Rodney Braden asked to have a discussion of LeJeune’s job performance added to this past Monday’s council agenda. Braden’s agenda request evolved into three other council members supporting Braden’s motion to have LeJeune resign.

Braden made his request the day after LeJeune indicated concerns about her being leap-frogged in the city’s chain of command.

At the June 28 meeting, LeJeune had thanked the council for its after-the-fact ratification of the recent actions of a member of City Attorney Jeff Burns’ law firm.

She was referring to Burns’ colleague and designee, Kyle Bauman, who on June 19 had told the Okaloosa County Commission that the city wanted to hold off on its application for a $1.2 million RESTORE Act grant to develop Heritage Park because the park plans were not finalized.

At the City Council’s June 18 regular meeting, the council members had approved Braden’s motion to have LeJeune provide Burns with documents needed to send a letter to the state advising it of the council’s intent to make some minor changes to the park plans.

At that meeting, LeJeune told the council that she could notify the county and other outside officials about the council’s concerns regarding the timing of the grant application.

‘I appreciate that,” Braden said, “but I would appreciate if our attorney did that.”

LeJeune later agreed with Burns’ suggestion that she could write the letter to the county and he could review it.

However, in a June 20 email to Braden, LeJeune told him “the council never voted to abate or put on hold the grant. If that is the will of the council, then there needs to be a public vote on that. Neither the city attorney or the city manager has the authority to take action unless it is clear direction from the entire governing body.”

LeJeune told the council June 28 that the need to ratify Bauman’s actions was the only reason why she wanted to hold the special meeting.

Her follow-up comments at that meeting apparently reflect the tense climate at City Hall, and perhaps indicate that she saw the writing on the wall.

“I am also a little bit concerned and discouraged that there are members of the council that feel that giving clear direction is not enough for the city manager to take the proper action, in that you would like the city attorney to make sure that the city manager is doing what has been told,” LeJeune said in measured tones. “I direct staff. They do not direct me. They do not take action unless I approve it.”

She continued: “And I would just like to put it out there that if there is a lack of confidence in my ability to direct my staff, or appropriately take action on clear direction from this council, then I would ask for this council to take action, and not just speak about the lack of confidence in my ability to perform my duties.

At Monday’s meeting, Braden received the support of council members Parker Destin, Chatham Morgan and Prebble Ramswell for LeJeune’s resignation.

According to her signed amended employment agreement, LeJeune has until July 13 to submit her written resignation to the City Clerk. If LeJeune doesn’t submit the letter, “There’s a good chance a motion would be made” to fire her, Braden said Thursday.

If LeJeune resigns, her last day will be Aug. 14. As of Friday, she still had not turned in her letter of resignation.

On Thursday, Braden refused to say why he wants LeJeune removed as city manager.

“I just want to leave that one alone,” he said.

He declined to share his concerns about LeJeune, just as he declined to do so at Monday’s council meeting.

“It’s just an accumulation of things that have been going on for more than a year now,” Braden said. “I like Carisse. She’s a great person, but it’s just not working. There’s no good way of (terminating her job). It’s just time to make a change.

Some Destin residents have claimed that the move to have LeJeune resign was a pre-planned effort by some of the council members, and that polling of the council had taken place before Monday’s meeting.

Braden said such claims are false.

“It was a last-minute thing,” Braden said. “I knew there was tension and nobody was happy with her, so I asked the city attorney to draft (LeJeune’s amended contract) that benefited the city manager quite well.

“I hadn’t talked with the other council members” before the meeting, he added. “I can’t (because of the state’s Sunshine Law), and I didn’t. If we all thought she was doing a good job, she would still be there. When the tension in the room is so thick you can cut it with a knife, you have to do something about it.”

Council members Tuffy Dixon, Cyron Marler and Skip Overdier voted against asking LeJeune to resign, and each was surprised by Braden’s motion to do so.

When given the chance to comment at Monday’s meeting, LeJeune said she was given the amendment to her contract several hours before the meeting.

“The fact that it was presented to me at all let me know I don’t have the full confidence of my City Council,” she said.

LeJeune was brought on as city manager in July 2016 after serving as interim city manager for about two months. The council in February unanimously approved giving her a 1 percent merit-based salary increase based on her job performance in fiscal year 2017.

The pay hike increased her salary to $123,821.15.

Braden noted that LeJeune had been eligible for a 2-percent pay increase.

“Her (overall) evaluation was extremely low,” he said Thursday.

Ramswell said Thursday that it was difficult to pinpoint an exact date of when she began having concerns with LeJeune’s job performance.

“I just noticed a few things I asked about going unanswered,” Ramswell said. “And committee members were having problems” such as receiving late meeting agendas and not receiving other city documents at all. “I had discussion with her about those things, but instead of getting better, they were getting worse.”

For example, Ramswell said she recently had asked LeJeune for a list and dates of meetings on the Heritage Park plans. “That was not provided to me.”

She also said it is an insult for some to assume, just because a vote went a certain way, that some council members had held unlawful, pre-meeting discussions about LeJeune.

“Absolutely not, was polling going on,” Ramswell said. “I was just as surprised when I saw (the review of LeJeune’s job performance) on the agenda as anyone else. But I had issues to express.”

On June 29, the day after LeJeune publicly noted that she directs her staff, Morgan told her in an email, “You have a hard job and I do think you’re doing your best. I’ll clarify that on Monday. I don’t like the way the meeting ended and you were right to say what you did.”

Morgan noted at Monday's meeting that while LeJeune was not entirely at fault, a division has been brewing between city staff and the council for six months. He said he and other council members have “trust issues” with staff, which he said did not ask for his input at the city’s recent visioning session.

Councilman Destin did not return phone calls seeking comment on why he supported asking LeJeune to resign.

Destin’s father, local restaurateur Dewey Destin, and the city remain in settlement negotiations stemming from Dewey’s October 2016 lawsuit against the city over a property dispute involving his harbor-side restaurant and Heritage Park.