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City Employees Claim Officials Used City Resources for Personal Benefit

Posted on October 24, 2017

City Employees Claim Officials Used City Resources for Personal Benefit

Dr. Erwin Jackson told Tallahassee Reports he has become a messenger for people who know of public corruption but do not have the resources or the freedom to speak out.

His recent publicity from presentations at the city commission meetings and his regular Facebook posts have generated numerous phone calls from individuals who claim to have witnessed the misuse of city resources by high ranking officials.

Information from these phone calls and subsequent meetings was the focus of allegations addressed at a press conference held today by Dr. Jackson.

The allegations are supported by some documents, but mostly rest on statements made by current and former city employees and other individuals.

The allegations center around the personal use of city employees in the City’s Underground Utilities Department by city officials. These officials include Mayor Andrew Gillum and City Manager Rick Fernandez.

At the time of these allegations, current City Manager Rick Fernandez was the Assistant City Manager over the Underground Utilities Department and Mayor Andrew Gillum was a city commissioner.

At the press conference, Jackson outlined four specific allegations and said he was taking the information to law enforcement officials.

Water Pipe Repair for Fernandez Family

City employees have told Jackson that a work crew was directed by Mike Tadros, head of Underground Utilities, to replace a water pipe on the customer side of the water meter at a home owned by the family of City Manager Rick Fernandez.

City employees said they told management that the faulty water pipes were the responsibility of the homeowner.

The work was valued at approximately $700-$1,000 and took place around 2010.

Property records show the home at the center of the allegation is located at 435 Richview Park Circle East and was owned by the Rick Fernandez, his wife, and his daughter from 2003 to 2015.

Fernandez Pool Work

City employees claim that Tim Potter, the Manager of Operations for Underground Utility and Public Infrastructure, picked up a city employee from an active city work site and headed to the home of City Manager Rick Fernandez at 3516 Raymond Diehl Road to work on a pool pump.

Sources say the two employees stopped by a Lowes Home Improvement store on the way to the city manager’s home to pick up materials.

Property records show Rick Fernandez currently owns 3516 Raymond Diehl which was purchased in 1989.

Repairs at Gillum’s Home

Jackson provided city documents that show city employees were directed to City Commissioner Andrew Gillum’s home at least three times within five weeks in 2010.

On November 10, 2010 a work order shows that a city employee was sent to 5325 St. Ives Lane to investigate a water leak. The work order shows that the city employee determined the problem was a “customer leak.”

On December 15, 2010 another work order was created and a city employee informed Tim Potter that the leak was “on his side.”

On December 16, 2010 another work order was created and again noted the leak was in the back yard and was the customer’s responsibility.

Dr. Jackson reported that several individuals have come forward to say that the City of Tallahassee repaired the leak in the back yard of Gillum’s home.

Property records show Gillum owned the home at 5325 St. Ives Lane from 2004 through 2015.

Replacement of Pressure Reducing Valve for City Employee

On April 21, 2009 a work order shows that a pressure reducing valve was replaced at 3493 Gardenview Way.

City employees claim that the replacement of a pressure reducing valve is the responsibility of the customer not the City of Tallahassee.

Property records show that the owner of the home in 2009 was Michelle Bono, who at the time was the assistant to City Manager Anita Favors.

63 Responses to City Employees Claim Officials Used City Resources for Personal Benefit

  1. Jeremy Smith Reply

    October 24, 2017 at 10:55 am

    Is there no whistle-blower type protections for these people? I thank them for bringing this information to light. They should not be in fear of it either.
    It is time Tallahassee residents step up and say no to the corruption in City Hall.

    • Jeremy Smith Reply

      October 24, 2017 at 10:59 am

      Nevermind. Just saw the video of the press conference and Dr. Jackson said they will get protection from FDLE.

  2. Thomas C. Hooker Reply

    October 24, 2017 at 11:04 am

    Thievery since 1995.

  3. James Reply

    October 24, 2017 at 11:08 am

    Nothing to see her, except city business as usual. Move along ya’ll!

  4. Mike Reply

    October 24, 2017 at 11:32 am

    Since COT officials have been at this type of conduct (and much more serious conduct) for so long, My hope is the evidence is by now so abundant and overwhelming that no legal “wiggle room” exists for those found guilty. I realize in these days it may be unrealistic, but I hope some justice can finally be handed to those who have abused the City of Tallahassee for their own personal enrichment and gain.

    It’s painful to think what a great city Tallahassee could be, but never will become as long as we have unethical people running our city government. I sincerely hope we can get through this painful chapter of Tallahassee’s evolution and one day (with the right kind of elected officials) become the city (and County) we certainly can be.

  5. J Danger Reply

    October 24, 2017 at 11:47 am

    I think Dr. Jackson is doing a great job. He is being very methodical, gathering facts to include the paperwork to back up the facts, and presenting it in a manner that is pretty professional. This really is something all taxpayers should be concerned about as the rest of us have to pay for these type of repairs.And if these are instances that can be documented, think of all those that were not.
    I sure hope the FBI looks into “surplus” city equipment, how it is defined as surplus, how it is valued and who ends up with it through what method of sale while they are looking at COT.
    Keep up the good work Dr. Jackson.

    • News_Maven Reply

      October 24, 2017 at 7:43 pm

      Erwin should NOT have had to do this investigative work. That should have been done by the so-called newspaper-of-record in town, while it was going on between 2010-15.
      But the executive editor at the time, Bob Gabordi, was too busy taking walks in the park with the very same people accused of malfeasance.
      Again, folks, stop giving your hard-earned money to these Fake News tools. Cancel your subscription to this anti-Tallahassee journalism pretender.

  6. brad Reply

    October 24, 2017 at 12:04 pm

    John Marks had the city repave his concrete driveway at his home in Bobbin Brook, you know the one he had annexed into the city so he could legally run for mayor not that it matters where you live anyway right.

    • News_Maven Reply

      October 24, 2017 at 7:46 pm

      Steve, do a COT records request for all city work orders at Marx’s Bobbin Brook mansion.

    • Jack Bell Reply

      October 24, 2017 at 8:51 pm

      Actually I watched that “City” project for the better part of a week. Nice job btw.

      Since Mayor Mark’s driveway is on a private street, surely the taxpayers didn’t pay for that.

  7. david overholt Reply

    October 24, 2017 at 12:26 pm

    It disgusts me how people that are there to SERVE the city constituents take it upon them selves to SERVE them selves at our expense. I bet you $100 that if those leaks were on my side of the meter I would pay for them. total turnover is needed to stop this cultural issue. It makes the good, honest, hard working employees of the city look bad that that just isn’t fair.

  8. Snydely Whiplash Reply

    October 24, 2017 at 12:28 pm

    The theft of COT time labor and equiptment is enough to get them all terminated without retirement benifits.
    Will it stop the FBI investigation and any resulting Federal prison time? NO…that’s still gonna chug along at its own pace.
    Finally the light of truth justice and the American way has shined on our nefarious public monsters.
    Yeah the mild mannered Dr. Jackson has a super hero uniform and cape on under his business suit.

  9. Snydely Whiplash Reply

    October 24, 2017 at 12:50 pm

    Based on the initial curminstances The Honorable Governor Rick Scott may deem it necessary to suspend Gillum and Fernandez and appoint a reciever to oversee COT operations.
    Something like that at a time like this would ensure Senator Scott rides into Washington DC with the glorious support of The Great State of Florida !!!

    • Mike Reply

      October 24, 2017 at 9:21 pm

      Snydely, I hope you’re right on all your points – especially Gov. Scott appointing someone to take over COT operations while the former officials are “occupied”. Tallahassee is (so long!) overdue for some justice. I hope the FBI is justified far beyond their expectations in this investigation, and they go back a decade or more while pursuing it.

      By the way, as a Dudley DoRight fan since I was a kid, isn’t it “Snidely Whiplash”? No problem with your spelling, he’s a great classic cartoon character and glad someone else is a fan.

      • Snidely Whiplash Reply

        October 25, 2017 at 9:23 am

        Snidely OMG you are correct. Thank you.
        Go look at tdo.com story on Fernandez requesting and receiving $2000. of football tix and the aparent public records violation COT committed by willfull fsilure to provide the information requested.
        This is getting good.
        The PR clerk could have been intimadated by Tricky Rickey but likely will soon start “singing like a bird” that 1 year in jail and $1000. fine ain’t no joke!!!!!!

        • Mike Reply

          October 25, 2017 at 1:01 pm

          My apologies if I seemed like I was trying to correct your spelling of Snidely, he’s such a classic cartoon character that you just using his name was both funny and astute.

          I realize I’m being overly optimistic here, but the fact that both Tallahassee’s and National scandals (the Clintons, obama administration and Uranium 1) are being unraveled in the last few days is hopefully a good sign – my hope is that justice is done on all fronts.

  10. Sally Reply

    October 24, 2017 at 1:26 pm

    Unless Rocky Hanna and Wood Hilderbrandt have receipts for the numerous notebooks they developed and sent out. We believe they used school district materials and printers for the copies that they sent out. Rocky admitted he gathered the materials…did he use school board paper and printers? Did they do this on School Board time?

  11. Disgusted Reply

    October 24, 2017 at 1:42 pm

    I don’t think the Governor would suspend either one of them. I think his main concern is his political future and he would be fearful of doing anything. I wish he would do so.

  12. Steven Hougland Reply

    October 24, 2017 at 2:06 pm

    It just keeps coming…

  13. Philly B. Reply

    October 24, 2017 at 2:39 pm

    The city employees are finally tired of having to work in this type of environment. They have been spoon-fed this corruption finally getting full of it. I just hope they are well protected sounds like the management out there is very very corrupt vindictive.

    • News_Maven Reply

      October 24, 2017 at 7:51 pm

      Not a smart idea to fire about three dozen employees due to budget cutbacks.
      They may know something.
      And when they see double-digit raises for their superiors, their memories get better real quick.

      • MT Reply

        October 25, 2017 at 4:35 pm

        Bingo, News_Maven. I know some of them and this is already underway.

  14. Thomas C. Hooker Reply

    October 24, 2017 at 2:42 pm

    The Bell scandal involved the misappropriation of public funds in Bell, California, United States over a period of several years in the first decade of the 21st century. In July 2010, the Los Angeles Times published an investigative article on possible malfeasance in the neighboring city of Maywood, revealing that the city officials of Bell received salaries that were reported as the highest in the nation.[1] Subsequent investigations found atypically high property tax rates, allegations of voter fraud in municipal elections and other irregularities which heightened the ensuing scandal.[2] These and other reports led to widespread criticism and a demand for city officials to resign.[3][4]

    In the end, seven Bell city officials, including former mayor Oscar Hernandez, former city administrator Robert Rizzo, assistant city administrator Angela Spaccia, and four city council members were convicted on graft and corruption charges, and were given sentences ranging from probation to twelve years in prison.[5]

  15. Philly B. Reply

    October 24, 2017 at 2:43 pm

    Dr. Jackson needs to check the salaries of the personnel that is in his article. I bet they have had several raises over the past few years for the good job that they have been doing for the elite group in City Hall.

    • JjJ Says Reply

      October 25, 2017 at 9:57 am

      Phiilly..aren’t you the same boss at COT that accepted box tickets from a vendor for a gator game for you and your gal friend to attend.

  16. Stanley Sims Reply

    October 24, 2017 at 4:35 pm

    Wow ?…. Another one sided written article!!! Was any black people there? Did any of them speak out? Come on Steve…. You claim these types of articles are written by the Tallahassee Democrat!

    • MarkB Reply

      October 24, 2017 at 5:09 pm

      Double wow!!! Did you really say one sided written and was any black people there?

      • Stanley Sims Reply

        October 24, 2017 at 5:21 pm

        Were you there? Can you answer the simple two questions?

        • MarkB Reply

          October 24, 2017 at 5:50 pm

          I were there.1-yes.2-No one spoke out but 2 guys laid pipe in his back yard.

        • Thomas C. Hooker Reply

          October 25, 2017 at 2:29 pm

          Stanley, was that you in the green neon at the press conference?

          • Thomas C. Hooker

            October 25, 2017 at 3:07 pm

            Never mind Stanley. I see it was you.

  17. Interested party Reply

    October 24, 2017 at 5:26 pm

    Hey Stanley, Didn’t Rocky post a picture of you and him with students during the students during the election process?

  18. RickB Reply

    October 24, 2017 at 5:40 pm

    Now you know why they fired all those city workers. Just saying.

  19. Philly B. Reply

    October 24, 2017 at 6:52 pm

    I know several of the employees that was there just read Gilliam called the city employees Liars wow what a great mayor. They did not lie they are just tired of being fed the corruption. I got a feeling everybody will see that this is not one big lie.

  20. J. Brent Pichard

    J. Brent Pichard Reply

    October 24, 2017 at 8:54 pm

    When elected officials and government bureaucrats fear the electorate, good government usually results. When they don’t, corruption runs amok. Sanitizing city hall begins with an Erwin Jackson but it ends with you, you, you, you and you.

    • Elizabeth Reply

      October 25, 2017 at 9:37 am

      Amen.

  21. Dirk Dynamic Reply

    October 24, 2017 at 9:06 pm

    How do the people get this nonsense investigated?

    FDLE?

    Is the FBI going to take care of this?

  22. B Turner Reply

    October 25, 2017 at 6:34 am

    As an employee of COT what should also be known is the elderly man who needed help that my crew helped or the lady who couldn’t afford to make her repair and cried when told it was on her property so it was fixed. The good is always overlooked. I am pretty sure the employees who provided information didn’t also say what they owe the city back for not truthfully stating they hours by coming in late or hour and half lunches when we are only allowed 30 mins. Good thing yalls phone record arenot public PB

    • Kate Reply

      October 26, 2017 at 5:50 am

      There are a lot of good stories like this that will never be told. Many people do the right thing. But nobody is watching for the good, and the people that are doing good don’t care about that. They just want to do their jobs and feel good about their work and helping others.

  23. Curtis Baynes

    Curtis Baynes Reply

    October 25, 2017 at 9:13 am

    This is disappointing, and disturbing, on so many levels. As a general rule of thumb: The higher the salary/position, the lower the margin of error.

  24. Rosemary N. Palmer Reply

    October 25, 2017 at 9:41 am

    Wait a minute. A work order to investigate a water leak is not corruption. City utilities do that for all customers, and can have to respond multiple times before a final determination of who is responsible. If there is a problem, it will have to be fixing something that has been identified to be a customer issue, after all the up the chain of command and customer experts have finally resolved who must do it.

    And staff has to trust up the chain and outside of the chain before we can reasonably expect people to challenge what their bosses tell them to do as not in the public interest.

    • Thomas C. Hooker Reply

      October 25, 2017 at 10:11 am

      Yes Rosemary, you are correct. Investigating a water leak is not corruption.

      Going into the yard and FIXING the water leak of a high ranking City official or the Mayor is WRONG.

      • Sam Reply

        October 26, 2017 at 7:37 am

        Funny..Erwin Jackson is making an issue out of the city making repairs at city management’s homes when it was clearly the homeowners responsibility and expense for the repair..but does he not realize some of his own properties have received this same benefit. There are work orders where the tenant at his properties called in with problems that clearly would be owner responsibility but the city made the repair at their expense..these are public record..

        • Gabriel Reply

          October 27, 2017 at 11:41 am

          Even funnier, Dr. Jackson is NOT an elected official, so what’s you gripe? Stay focus on message!

  25. Charles Reply

    October 25, 2017 at 9:56 am

    So what is happening at City Hall at 4:00 pm today? I heard something about it on the radio this morning, but I didn’t hear what exactly is going to take place.

    • Charles Reply

      October 25, 2017 at 1:54 pm

      Oh I found it… regular City Commission meeting.

  26. BEC Reply

    October 26, 2017 at 8:30 am

    I wonder if Ricardo and his people are playing in the Old School Open? It is only $750/per person.

    http://www.oldschoolopen.com/

    • Thomas C. Hooker Reply

      October 26, 2017 at 8:58 am

      What an awesome site. There are some great photos of past OS events with Mayor Andrew, Alan Williams, some lobbyists whose records have been subpoenaed, and maybe a picture or two of undercover FBI agents?

      • BEC Reply

        October 26, 2017 at 9:14 pm

        I wonder if “Mike Miller” and the boys are in any of them?

  27. Tracy Reply

    October 26, 2017 at 10:13 am

    I don’t know a lot about city government, but I’m greatly confused. The utilities department (electric, gas, sewer and water) provide a service and we (the customers) pay a fee for this service. I’m pretty sure they make a profit on the services, so these departments are self sufficient. Meaning they are not funded by tax dollars. I would assume the police and fire are where the tax dollars come in since these departments do not generate income/profit. If so, what does it matter if an employee from the water department fixes something at another employees house…it must be coming out of their budget which is created from profits made from services they provided…right? It is not coming from tax dollars..

    • Thomas C. Hooker Reply

      October 26, 2017 at 11:35 am

      Tracy, I think you are correct up until this point.

      “If so, what does it matter if an employee from the water department fixes something at another employees house…it must be coming out of their budget which is created from profits made from services they provided…right? It is not coming from tax dollars..”

      It is not ‘their budget’ It is our budget that is to be used for the benefit of everyone, not some more than others. It is to be used equally and fairly without discrimination.

      Because the citizen is paying for a service being provided by an employee that is rendered to that employee’s ultimate supervisor is what makes it wrong. A private citizen cannot call the public utilities and say ‘hey my pool, tub, hot water heater, etc. is leaking, send someone over here to fix it.’

      It shouldn’t be expected. If your job is on the line, are you going to do special favors for your boss that you KNOW are wrong?

      • Tracy Reply

        October 26, 2017 at 1:37 pm

        I think customers call the city all the time and report problems at their home, not knowing whose resposibility it is to fix it. Once the city sends someone out and the problem is determined then if the responsibility is the customers…do you know how many people expect and ask that the city make the repair even though the responsibility is clearly the homeowners. So, yes even though it may not be policy, I am greatful that the city is generous and compassionate enough to repair a problem that a citizen may not otherwise be able to have repaired.

        • Thomas C. Hooker Reply

          October 26, 2017 at 2:12 pm

          Tracy, in this case, the people that are benefiting from the freebies are using YOUR tax dollars. These people can certainly afford to pay for their own responsibilities and repairs that the City of Tallahassee is not responsible for.

          You especially can’t do this if you are in charge of someones else’s (taxpayer) money and a resource(employees) that you supervise. It is wrong, it is unethical, and it should certainly be against the law.

          I don’t know how else to put it.

          • Tracy

            October 26, 2017 at 4:36 pm

            Thomas..maybe not explaining my thoughts clearly enough..the The utilities departments, I believe, run based on monies they collect by providing utilities. They make a profit on these services. They put it into their budget. A budget for eater..a A budget for gas..A budget for electric and a budget for sewer. These monies are not put into the general fund which is where the tax dollars collected go..into that fund. So if an employee from the water department fixes a repair that is customer responsibility it is NOT coming out of the general fund which is where taxpayer dollars is deposited. It is paid out of the water budget which is money the city made by providing water to paying customers. All citizens in Tallahasse do not have COT utilities. If these departments were not making money they would not be depositing monies into the general fund. I don’t think the monies they are using are taxpayers..but from utilities customers profits..that is the difference!

        • Gabriel Reply

          October 27, 2017 at 11:53 am

          Tracy, simply put ‘elected’, ‘appointed’ or ‘Senior Staffers’ employed by local government are not to received ‘inside benefits’ from agencies they oversee, manage or supervised. No matter how you spin this, it’s not ethical!

  28. g00ns Reply

    October 26, 2017 at 9:00 pm

    Ask Tim Potter about the 300$ to 400$ pressure washer that he had another employee charge to a City credit card for a quote quote crew that needed one and took home so he could pressure wash his home. And the crew that supposedly needed it was a water leak repair crew!!!!

  29. Thomas C. Hooker Reply

    October 27, 2017 at 7:40 am

    Tracy, You are making no sense. Are you Dardra Blake?

    • Typical Reply

      October 27, 2017 at 12:49 pm

      Mr. Thomas- you might have a valid point on this comment.

  30. Ran Kelvin Reply

    October 27, 2017 at 8:28 pm

    Didn’t Mr. Potter try to steal the Bailey Building and Loan? Well we all were told he was a scurvy little spider.

  31. Past participle Reply

    October 29, 2017 at 8:02 pm

    Getting back to the original issues need to look into Ricardo Fernandez and a tree removal from HIS property after a storm we had last year and City employees doing the job

  32. MarkB Reply

    October 31, 2017 at 8:40 pm

    I think the original issue is people having pipe laid right in their back yard and taxpayers footing the bill for this activity. If a city official needs to have pipe laid they should be paying for that service. Don’t want to come off as judgemental,just believe that the recipient of the pipe laying should pay,not the taxpaying citizen.

  33. Past participle Reply

    November 2, 2017 at 4:44 pm

    Clarifying the original message the work was done by City of tallahassee employees while on City payroll doing the removal of the tree for the City Manager

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