Another EDA member resigns

Published 7:54 pm Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Before he was able to attend even one meeting after being appointed to serve on Suffolk’s Economic Development Authority, James Shirley has resigned the post.

Shirley, who was appointed in May to replace Dennis Gartman following Gartman’s April resignation from the board, quit the Authority in protest over the departure of former Economic Development Director Cindy Cave.

“I disagreed with the way the city handled the personnel matter with Ms. Cave,” Shirley in an interview on Wednesday.

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Cynthia Cave, the former economic development director, was forced to resign in May, according to an e-mail she sent to EDA members and to the media. She was given the choice to “resign or be terminated,” she said, after nearly seven months of employment.

Cave wrote that Deputy City Manager Patrick Roberts “took offense” when she passed along negative feedback about the city’s development process from disgruntled business and property owners. Roberts also blamed her for a lease in Northgate Commerce Park between developer ProLogis and aerospace parts manufacturer Cobham Composite Products not being ready to go, she claimed.

City officials have declined to comment publicly on the reason for Cave’s sudden departure or on the claims in her e-mail.

Kevin Hughes, acting director of economic development, announced Shirley’s resignation at Wednesday’s EDA meeting. Shirley had not yet attended a meeting after his appointment at the May 6 City Council meeting. He had a prior commitment for the May 13 EDA meeting.

Shirley had been appointed by Councilman Joseph Barlow to replace Gartman, who resigned in April over frustrations with the city’s development philosophy.

“It’s just something I feel was not handled in the proper manner,” Shirley said of Cave’s departure from the city’s staff.

“I’m afraid my management style and theirs would not get along well. I’m for openness and transparency, and I just felt that would be the best thing to do at this time.”

Shirley said he had discussed his resignation with Barlow.

“I talked to Joe Barlow about it,” Shirley said. “He didn’t necessarily agree with my decision, but he understood and respected it and wished me well.”