Taxpayers May Be Responsible For Future Legal Fees Incurred By City Manager Fernandez

The recent resignation of City Manager Rick Fernandez – amid various ethics charges and a federal investigation of city hall – has raised questions about who may be responsible for future legal fees incurred by Fernandez.

Language in Section 6 of the separation agreement between Fernandez and the City of Tallahassee states:

In the event there is any litigation initiated or pending against the City of Tallahassee or Fernandez relating to Fernandez’s performance of his duties as City Manager, the parties agree that the City of Tallahassee shall provide defense counsel and indemnify and hold Fernandez harmless from any damages, litigation expenses and costs which he may incur as a result of any legal action against him arising from his performance of duties as City Manager in accordance with City of Tallahassee Resolution No. 86-R-1454.

This language seems to indicate that Tallahassee taxpayers may be obligated to reimburse Fernandez for future legal expenses.

After the special city commission meeting last week, City Attorney Lew Shelley told TR that if the Florida Commission on Ethics fails to secure a finding against Fernandez in an administrative hearing, the city would be responsible for reasonable legal fees.

He cited the case of Mayor John Marks where probable cause was established, but an administrative hearing officer found no wrong doing. The city commission eventually voted to approve payment of “reasonable” legal fees incurred by Marks.

Given the federal investigation into city hall activities, what happens if Fernandez or any other city official is charged with criminal activity?

Shelley told TR that no expenses would be paid in a criminal case. However TR was forwarded a city policy that seems to indicate otherwise.

City policy 102 provides for:

the consideration of the payment/reimbursement of attorney’s fees and costs incurred by public officials, officers, and employees when they successfully defend or prevail in criminal cases arising out of and in connection with the scope of their City employment, while acting in their official capacity and serving a public purpose.

The policy states that City of Tallahassee:

may reimburse public officials, officers, and employees for reasonable attorney’s fees and costs that such persons have incurred when they successfully defend or prevail in criminal cases that arise out of and in connection with the scope of their City employment, while acting in their official capacity and serving a public purpose.

Based on this language, it appears that taxpayers may be on the hook for legal bills due to the federal investigation unless indictments result in the convictions and withstand any appeals.

6 Responses to "Taxpayers May Be Responsible For Future Legal Fees Incurred By City Manager Fernandez"

  1. Joe West   January 7, 2018 at 8:48 pm

    This was why several Tallahassee Citizens spoke out against this “negotiated settlement” by the extrodinarly unethical soon to be retired and extremely crooked City Attorney Lewis Shelly. Every elected and appointed City Official who supported this taxpayer funded ripoff needs to be replaced. The members of this Commission should be embarrassed to even speak to a citizen of Tallahassee.

  2. News Maven   January 8, 2018 at 1:04 am

    Whoever said “there’s no honor among thieves” has never worked at the COT.

  3. JJ   January 8, 2018 at 2:06 am

    Where city policy says “may reimburse”, that’s just what it means. It doesn’t say “shall reimburse”. Sounds to me like us tax payers are off the hook, but if comes down to it I’m quite sure our Doofus commissioners would vote to reimburse one of their own.

  4. Major Villum   January 8, 2018 at 4:44 am

    And here’s why Cassandra Jackson and Company – who wrote, approved and legally and UNETHICALLY signed Ricky’s severance agreement should be investigated as well by the FBI:

    Not only will tax payer’s be charged with these legal fees but Ricky will also BE PAID his out-going salary for litigation: and there’s fixing to be plenty of it.

    Reread page 3, item 5 of Slick Rick’s negotiation package: “in addition to any witness fee or mileage reimbursement required by law to be paid to him, Fernandez shall be paid an amount equal to his hourly rate of pay, based upon his salary at the time of the effective date of his resignation,”

    Really! I couldn’t make this up; and this is on top of his lucrative retirement package.

    FBI – may we add this to the ever expanding laundry list of Breach of Public Trust issues, Malfeasance, etc., please? Please include COT (IL)Legal Department.

  5. Mike   January 11, 2018 at 8:04 am

    Sounds like Tricky Ricky told all his elected cronies in the corrupt COT Cabal: “Here’s a list of what you’ll give me, or I’ll be singing like a bird to the FBI’s investigators about ALL of you.” Naturally, out of the goodness of their hearts, thay found it in themselves (or rather, in the taxpayer’s pockets) to be extra considerate of Mr. Fernandez in his “Golden Years” (an acutely apt term for his lucrative retirement).

  6. James Anderson   January 16, 2018 at 1:43 pm

    Why would taxpayers be responsible for personal actions that benefited the City Manager and had nothing to do with his actions for the City?


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