May 14, 2010 at 5:27 pm
Fla. town official fired because wife is adult film star
Source: USA TODAY
That plan may have backfired.
The story about Janke, fired Tuesday after council members learned that his wife, Anabela Mota, is the adult video actress known as Jazella Moore, has put local and national spotlights on the town of 6,500 residents.
Town hall officials have been flooded with media inquiries — including invitations to Mayor Larry Kiker to appear on the syndicated Inside Edition and NBC’s Today— and e-mails from residents angered by Janke’s termination.
The story made headlines as far away as Alaska and has popped up on numerous websites.
“It’s not good,” Kiker said Thursday. “It was on a talk show on (Florida’s east coast) this morning. (And) we’ve gotten threats.”
Howard Simon, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, called the firing an example of poor decision making.
“This might go down as one of the top 10 poor judgments by public officials in Florida history,” Simon said.
Janke, who had worked for the town since March 2008, canceled all media interviews around midday Thursday, saying his wife is upset by all the attention. Janke added his family needs some time to process the past few days’ events. The couple’s three teen children left the state Wednesday.
“It’s been overwhelming,” said Janke, 55, pointing out he has gotten support from residents who said he should not have been fired.
In an article on Adult Industry News, a website that follows the adult entertainment industry, Janke said he and his wife believed the news would get out eventually.
“We have thought about it and tried to keep a low profile,” he said. “I guess we knew it would happen one day, but hoped that it wouldn’t really matter.”
Janke also described a close call the couple had when they attended a gala affair that included U.S. Rep. Connie Mack, R-Fla., as a guest.
“We sat at his table, with Anabela next to the congressman. The next morning she was on NBC News with the congressman next to her,” and she was concerned that her career would become public, Janke said in the article.
Mack had no comment on the situation Thursday.
Mota is 43, and according to Adult Industry News, has had her Jazella Moore website for the past 18 months. She and Janke were married in October 2008.
The Town Council voted unanimously to fire Janke without cause, meaning he will receive six months — or about $50,000 — worth of severance pay and benefits. According to the minutes of the meeting Tuesday, Kiker received a call from a reporter about Janke’s wife, and then called Janke.
“Mayor Kiker relayed having been told by Mr. Janke that he did not want the community to be divided,” the minutes read.
On Thursday, as reporters paced outside the doors of the town hall, papers from Anchorage, to Phoenix, Ariz., featured the story.
Fort Myers resident Richard Dogood wrote a letter Thursday chastising the Town Council for its decision and pledging to boycott the Beach businesses.
“I will not be returning to Fort Myers Beach ever again, regardless of what happens next,” Dogood wrote.
Still, Peter Bergerson, a professor of public affairs at FGCU, said he thinks although the council acted hastily, the story will subside, perhaps because of the council’s quick decision.
“I think this is probably a one-week story,” Bergerson said. “After that, people will pick up and move on.”
Residents and the media are questioning whether Janke can take any legal actions.
“I just can’t imagine a more stupid decision, firing somebody who is acknowledged as being a superb employee,” Simon said. “Not for something he has done off-hours but for something that his wife has done off-hours, and something that happens to not be illegal.”