Marco Island Police, Fire Chiefs To Be Suspended After Eventbrite Vaccine System Probe

Marco Island Police Chief Tracy L. Frazzano and Marco Island Fire-Rescue Chief Christopher Byrne will be suspended for 30 days each in connection with a city investigation into use of the Eventbrite vaccine registration system, the city announced Wednesday.

An investigation led by City Manager Mike McNees concluded that Frazzano’s husband, William Frazzano, 65, made an online appointment on the Eventbrite COVID-19 vaccine registration system before the city published the link on the city’s website and social media accounts on Jan. 20.

McNees also concluded that Byrne failed to report the breach and allowed William Frazzano to take the vaccine during the city’s first vaccination clinic on Jan. 22 despite Collier County EMS alerting him of the breach, which happened 10 minutes before the Eventbrite link was published.

McNees wrote that Byrne spoke with Frazzano and that she said she had provided the Eventbrite link to her husband believing that the link would not go live until 2 p.m.

McNees offered both chiefs a predetermination meeting within 24 hours before his decision is final. After that, the period of suspension will begin at a time to be determined but no later than March 1.

“During that period (they) will not participate in the operation of the department in any way, and will receive no compensation or accrue any benefits as would normally accrue to (them) as an employee of the department or the city of Marco Island,” McNees wrote.

“I have no comment at this time,” Byrne said.

Frazzano did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

In a news conference Wednesday afternoon, McNees said the city attorney evaluated the case and has given him no indication the case should be referred to county, state or federal authorities. 

“What we got is a couple of bad judgment calls,” McNees said. “That’s not acceptable, but it isn’t criminal.”

City Council Chairman Jared Grifoni wrote in a text message Wednesday he is thankful for McNees’ actions.

“The city manager faced this sensitive situation head-on and conducted a review of the allegations in an expedited manner and in a transparent fashion, keeping both the City Council and public aware of the process and conclusion as appropriate,” Grifoni wrote.

Frazzano and Byrne were placed on administrative leave Monday pending the result of the investigation into allegations involving “access and use” of the Eventbrite vaccine registration system, the city announced Monday.

For the second vaccine clinic, the city told Florida residents last week to visit its website www.cityofmarcoisland.com at 2 p.m., Jan. 27, and to click on a banner on the top of the page that would redirect them to the Eventbrite website.

The city’s website crashed at 2 p.m. as possibly thousands of web visitors attempted to make one of 200 available appointments to get the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine two days later at Mackle Park, the city announced later that day.

At 2 p.m., the city also shared the Eventbrite link on its social media accounts. At approximately 2:15 p.m., the city announced on social media all 200 appointment slots were full.

The website was down for about 30 minutes, the Marco Eagle observed.

“Some people were still able to access the Eventbrite page and make a reservation through the city’s website or through the link posted on our city social media sites,” the city said in a news release sent later that day.

On Jan. 22, the city and Collier EMS administered for the first time fewer than 300 doses at Veterans’ Community Park.

The appointment slots, which also were scheduled through the event management and ticketing website Eventbrite, were filled within three minutes of being made available online on Jan. 20, according to the city.

McNees said during a City Council meeting Monday night the city is working on a new vaccine registration system that will give priority to Marco’s oldest residents.

The city’s two previous vaccine clinics have allowed people from outside of Marco to register with the same level of priority as Marco residents as long as they were Florida residents.

“It makes it more manageable (that) we don’t have people all over Southwest Florida trying to overwhelm the island to get 200 or 300 vaccinations,” McNees said.

McNees said on Monday the city won’t help distribute vaccinations this week on the island.

“We didn’t want to try to spin something up quickly this week with a whole new set of priorities and a whole new system. One misstep was enough,” McNees said.

From www.naplesnews.com