At the monthly NEBA luncheon, Leon County Commissioner Kristin Dozier and City Commissioner Curtis Richardson found themselves on the opposite side of a question about the impact of Tallahassee’s corruption investigation on business recruitment.
Michael Tentnowski, Director of Entrepreneurship at Innovation Park, was invited to speak to the business group about how the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory is positioned to drive economic growth.
One of the questions posed by the NEBA moderator addressed the impact of the local political climate/corruption/FBI investigation on recruiting businesses to Tallahassee.
Dozier and Richardson, who were invited by NEBA as guests, weighed in on the question.
Ms. Dozier said she believed that the corruption investigation was having a negative impact on business recruitment.
However, Commissioner Richardson stated, in a defiant tone, “there is not a corruption problem at city hall.” Richardson noted there is one FBI investigation of one city commissioner and there has been no indictments.
Several NEBA members voiced concern about Richardson ignoring media reports about questionable activities by city officials.
For example, over the last 18 months Tallahassee City Manager Rick Fernandez has resigned, Mayor Andrew Gillum reimbursed the city $5,000 for the campaign use of city resources, a city audit found an appearance of conflict related to contracts awarded to members of Commissioner Nancy Miller’s family, and a recent investigation found city employees took skybox football tickets from Mr. Fernandez.
Also, reporting on the FBI investigation revealed that at least two members of the city commission have traveled to vacation destinations with city vendors, city lobbyists, and undercover FBI agents posing as developers seeking to do business in Tallahassee.