Last week the city’s independent Ethics Board released documents emanating from the investigation of a $5,000 discount received from a city vendor by a family member of Tallahassee City Manager Rick Fernandez.
The ethics questions surrounding the transaction involve a possible gift received by Fernandez from a city vendor and a job given to the former Edison employee Eddie Kring, who was the catering manager for his daughter’s wedding reception.
Here are four questions and four answers based on the investigation and previous reports.
What role did Fernandez play in securing the vendor for the catering event?
Previously Fernandez told the Tallahassee Democrat that “I just paid the bills.”
However, the documents show that City Manager Fernandez played a role in securing the Edison as the caterer for his daughter’s wedding through a private meeting with Adam Corey.
Also, the investigation shows that Fernandez talked to Edison owner Adam Corey when there were logistical problems running up to the event.
Who gave the discount and why?
Three former employees of the Edison told city ethics officials they believed the Edison owners directed catering services be discounted and by how much.
However, no witness ever heard or believes that Mr. Fernandez asked for a discount.
Also, the employees indicated Mr. Corey did occasionally give percentage type discounts for services, mainly for political events.
Did Kring talk to Fernandez about a city job?
Yes. The investigation reported the following:
“Rick ran into Kring weeks or months after the wedding when Rick first learned that Kring was job hunting. Kring said he “would love to get back into community relations”. Rick told him to submit an application to HR, as he does all the time in his position when he is approached by an aspiring job hunter, which is often. Rick had no more to do with Kring’s job hunt.”
However this statement seems inconsistent with other facts.
First, the investigator uncovered an email from Fernandez’s daughter asking her father why Kring was not still working at the Edison. Her father’s response was:
“He has been talking to me about coming to the City. I’ll find out.”
And second, the head of the Communications Department, Alison Faris, told TR that since Mr. Fernandez is her boss, he was aware of the hire.
Did Adam Corey talk to Fernandez about a job for Kring with the city?
TR has previously reported that sources indicate that Adam Corey talked to Fernandez about a job for Kring.
However, Jerry Currington, the lawyer for the Ethics Board that interviewed Fernandez, never asked Fernandez if he talked to Adam Corey about a job for Kring.