Citizens for Responsible Spending (CRS), a group of Tallahassee business people who formed in 2015 to address the lack of a transparent budget process, held a press conference today and called for the “immediate dismissal of Rick Fernandez as City Manager.”
The City Commission recently voted to keep Mr. Fernandez on administrative paid leave and directed the city attorney to conduct an investigation of Fernandez’s solicitation of football tickets from a city lobbyist.
In today’s press conference leaders of CRS called for:
1. The immediate dismissal of Rick Fernandez as City Manager based on his solicitation of football tickets and more importantly lying to the citizens about the solicitation and deleting the public messages on his cell phone, a violation of the law. We need a national search for a new city manager, one that can come in and clean up the “good ole boy” network within the city.
2. Begin conducting a state and national search for a new City Attorney. Other than on an interim basis, no one from current staff should be our next city attorney. Again, the staff culture that exists must be revamped immediately, and only an outside attorney can accomplish that.
3. The City Commission must adopt all of the requested recommendations by the Tallahassee Independent Ethics Board including establishing the same threshold for unethical conduct that exists under state law.
“We’re wasting taxpayer dollars by allowing this insidious, symbiotic relationship of ‘you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours’ to continue to exist, while our city’s reputation crumbles. Enough is enough. We’ve waited until now because we continued to hope that the City Commission would do the right thing. Clearly, they refuse to act in the best interests of the community,” said Barney Bishop III, chair of CRS.
CRS member John McEachern, a retired banker, former GE executive, and former elected official in Columbus, GA who added, “As a Tallahassee citizen, my concerns center around a city commission mired in constant turmoil, controversy and inaction. The standards of performance at all levels reflect a genuine lack of leadership and competence our community deserves. We can do better.”
A special meeting of the Tallahassee City Commission will take place on Wednesday, January 3rd at 9 a.m. at City Hall. At the meeting, the City Commission will discuss next steps for appointing a City Auditor and City Attorney to ensure the City continues to provide citizens with strong leadership and high quality services.
The Commission will receive an update on the recruitment process for the City Attorney that began in November and includes a nationwide search and feedback from a citizens’ committee.
There is no mention of discussing the city manager issue at the special meeting.