FORT MYERS BEACH, FL -- From all available accounts, Fort Myers Beach town manager Scott Janke was a great employee. Alas for Janke, liberty and common sense, he's lost his job -- because the Town Council doesn't like what his wife does for a living.
Janke's wife is an adult film performer.
Faced with such an obvious threat to the town's safety and security, mayor Larry Kiker sprang into action, calling an emergency meeting this past Tuesday and calling a vote to terminate Janke "without cause."
The vote passed 5-0 to can Janke.
Now the freshly unemployed father of three will receive six months worth of salary as a severance package, along with health benefits, meaning that the town will spend more than $50,000 during the next half year -- in addition to the cost of hiring a new town manager -- because a perfectly legal job offends the council's sensibilities.
There's an example of excellent resource management and financial stewardship.
Janke was hired by Fort Myers beach in March 2008 after working for the City of Marathon in the Keys and other local governments in Alaska since 1989. This wealth of experience was simply not important to the council, however, which found his marriage to Anabela Mota Janke in October of last year simply too much to overlook. The feminine Janke uses the stage name of Jazelle Moore.
Kiker, rather amazingly enough, claimed to the Associated Press that "At no time did we make a judgment call on the activities of Mr. Janke or his wife. It's a matter of how effective he becomes after this situation. How much disruption there is."
That would explain why the meeting was called the evening after Kiker learned of Mrs. Janke's professional work.
Although Janke, whom the mayor calls a "friend," was called prior to the meeting, he was not invited to attend it. He was, however, informed of its outcome. He says he hasn't heard from anyone on the board since.
Although Janke won't comment at this time about possible legal action, he has said that "Our heads are held high. We have nothing to be embarrassed about. We've done nothing wrong."
Kiker admits that Janke has broken no laws and violated no rules. In fact, MSNBC indicates that Janke's work performance has never been questioned. Apparently the fear that someone other than a board member might be offended by the profession of the town manager's wife was stronger than the board's desire to defend the rights of all citizens, including its own employees.
"When you become a public figure you are held to a different level of scrutiny and ethics," councilman Tom Babcock justified.
Meanwhile, Janke has more practical matters to worry about, like looking for new work. As he points out, "A termination on a resume does not look good, no matter what the reason."
Whether the town council will now refuse to hire a replacement who is gay, bisexual, non-Christian, interracial, disabled or has a spouse with anything other than a 1950's sanctioned profession is yet unknown.