Former City Employee Says Commissioner Miller Directed Staff to Give Work to Gary Yordon Affiliated Business

Former City Employee Says Commissioner Miller Directed Staff to Give Work to Gary Yordon Affiliated Business

Dr. Karen Rubin, the TAPP Progam Coordinator from 2012-2014, told TR that City Commissioner Nancy Miller directed city staff to take the steps needed to assure the TAPP program contract would be awarded to a business controlled by Paige Carter-Smith and affiliated with Gary Yordon.

The City of Tallahassee Charter calls for the removal of any city commissioner that gives orders or makes demands of city staff. From the city charter:

Neither the commission nor any member thereof shall give orders to, nor make demands of, any of the subordinates of any appointed city official, either publicly or privately. Any such dictation, orders, demands or other interference upon the part of a member of the city commission with the administration of the city shall constitute grounds for removal from office;

At the time Ms. Carter-Smith was the registered agent of the Big Production, which has successfully secured the contract to provide services for the TAPP program for a number of years.

Ms. Carter-Smith’s name was included on both subpoenas recently served on the City of Tallahassee.

Based on the subpoenas, documents associated with the TAPP program will be turned over to federal investigators.

TR wrote exclusively about the process that resulted in the highest bidder – the Big Production –  being awarded the TAPP contract in 2014.

Dr. Rubin told TR that her effort to lay the groundwork to competitively bid the TAPP program in 2013, instead of favoring the Big Production, infuriated City Commissioner Nancy Miller and resulted in text message inquiries from Gary Yordon.

Cynthia Barber, who was Rubin’s boss, told Rubin in a meeting in mid-2014 that Miller wanted Yordon to have the contract and if that did not happen her career would be hurt.

Dr. Rubin wrote about the meeting in a September 2014 email to then city Manager Anita Favors:

I continue to have MAJOR concerns about verbal directives given in a meeting about Gary’s pre-chosen status because Mrs. Barber’s “career could not withstand the fall out if he was NOT selected as the TAPP vendor on a guaranteed basis”

Documents provided to TR are consistent with Rubin’s claim she was exploring a competitive bid for the project.

An email to Rubin from Tom Frick of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection -FDEP provided TAPP grant funding – on August 16, 2013 gave Rubin the go ahead to seek competitive bids:

When DEP is awarded a grant from the feds we are authorized to follow our State’s procurement requirements.  When dealing with another governmental entity our sub-grantee is responsible for complying with the federal requirements.

Additionally, we’ve talked with EPA and they have no problem with a change in vendors as long as an acceptable product that meets the application/grant agreement is completed.

When Mr. Yordon sensed the Big Production might have to compete for the contract, he sent text messages to Dr. Rubin.

In a text message in January 2014,  Yordon asked Rubin “Have you been discussing producing TAPP with anyone at MVP production studio.”

Later Yordon, in a text message, asked Dr. Rubin, “regardless of whatever confusion there might have been, can I trust you and I are both on the same page that I will be producing the next TAPP television PSA’s?”

An image of the text is show below.


When Rubin removed the Big Production from the workplan and submitted the document to the Florida DEP, Rubin says she was instructed by Cynthia Barber in a phone call on May 1st, 2014 to put the Big Production back in the document.

The email below, from FDEP’s Patricia Sanzone on June 5, 2014, describes the on-again, off-again nature of the process surrounding the vendor selection:

Through questions in writing from Karen and from you in our previous phone call, I thought the city wanted to add a specific contractor/vendor to the work plan.  Gary Jordan’s (sic) company had been in the original grant application, but had been pulled from the work plan.  It was my understanding that the city wanted to bid the PSA production work.  However, in recent months it seems a decision has been made to use Gary’s company.

In the end Rubin said the whole process wore her down. She said it became a challenge to do what was right.

Dr. Rubin told TR that Commissioner Miller’s constant micromanaging of the TAPP program was present when she started and present throughout her tenure.

She said she was shocked a city employee actually thought a sitting city commissioner should be consulted about the TAPP budget.

But that is what happened.

An email sent from a city employee in the stormwater department to Dr. Rubin recommended that Commissioner Miller and her husband, John Buss, be consulted on the 2013 budget for TAPP.

You and I need to set down and go over the 2013 budget, get it like we want it and then take it to John Buss and Cynthia for tweaking.  I personally think that we should talk with Nancy as well but that needs to run by Cynthia and John Buss.

Dr. Rubin resigned her position in September 2014 and is currently working at a higher education institution outside the state of Florida.

53 Responses to "Former City Employee Says Commissioner Miller Directed Staff to Give Work to Gary Yordon Affiliated Business"

  1. I can share some information with the public, although I can’t disclose everything i know. By year end a shocking number of local elected officials will be arrested. o be indicted. By “shocking” I mean a number that will make headlines in every major paper in the United States. The FBI and federal prosecutors are devoting a huge number of hours to this and it is bearing fruit. Sources tell me that veteran agents were floored at how lax the targets were in drawing undercover agents into their inner circles. Private-sector individuals, and you know who I’m talking about, are also considered “big fish” targets. Undercover agents are still in the area and are still infiltrating inner-circle meetings. The aircraft used by the FBI were used to capture the vehicles of targets as they met undercover agents to discuss corrupt dealmaking. The aircraft also captured projects that took shape with the use of public funds. Further agents recorded dozens of hours of conversations. Look for indictments by year end and a number of high-profile plea deals announced immediately, based on deals cut by small and medium fish selling out bigger fish. The FBI took a run at a previous TLH mayor and fell just short, though there was substantial evidence of corruption. Insiders say the targets took that as a sign that the FBI had just gone away. Nope. They just went back to the gym with a vengeance and bulked up. This time they’ve got so much evidence it will leave you speechless. In the near future look for obvious targets to speak publicly as if they were just along for the ride, and look at any elected official whose staff begins quitting “for better opportunities.”

    1. I provided a lot of information to the FBI about ex mayor John Marks. FBI had enough dirt for indictment. The U S Attorney Pam Marsh, ex law partner with John Matks refuse to indict her law partner! Can you add to this information. Is this your understanding?

  2. Don’t forget to look at a few of the attorneys at DMS. Dirtier than mud and the let A LOT of contracts. I can’t say anymore or I’ll be found out.

  3. I can’t remember the year, but Gary Yordon (or Big Top Productions – that had the exact same address as Gary Yordon) received $80,000 for (2) :30 commercials. That is a lot of money for production, especially when the City owns a TV station that could have produced them for free. If I remember correctly, Gary Yordon had donated services and money to Nancy Miller’s first Commission run… (free TV production) The TAPP commercials that were produced were very controvestrial and ended getting pulled and everyone was told not to run them, because there was too many complaints. The next time the TAPP TV commercials came around again, Gary Yordon produced these ones as well.

  4. so, the FBI came down here with three undercover guys to look into advertising for TAPP? Lol. Big story in the TD on the solar thing. That’s probably where they are really looking.

  5. City government in Tallahassee is nothing but a sewer…and in the sewer treatment business there are “best practices” to minimize the daily smell…but sometimes the stench breaks through and reminds us exactly what is in the hopper.

    Now the stench has attached itself to the longstanding custodians of the facility…and hopefully…we’ll ALWAYS remember this disgusting smell and will not want to get within 500 yards of those that have been tainted with it.

  6. I suspect the people that have not been issued a subpoena yet are the ones who are the true targets of the investigation. I suspect they will be the last to be interviewed. Based on those facts I think we can pretty well determine who they are looking at!

  7. for someone who thinks conflicts of interests are so important, don’t you think that you should mentioned that the writer of the article lost to the subject of the article in an election?!?!? also, when did Rubin talk to the reporter? Is any of this new?

    1. squirrel!!! (if the evidence is too apparent, distract and blame the messenger. and here lies the problem Tallahassee)

    2. Good question Crazy Uncle. Having run for office in Tallahassee three times, it is important – from a credibility standpoint – that anything I write be supported by documents and third parties. I would challenge you or anyone else to find a report that is not supported by independent sources.

      As far as disclosure goes, do you think the TD and WFSU should disclose they receive money from local government each time a story is written about local government?

    3. Corruption is always news worthy. Crazy Uncle why don’t you use your real name? Is this you Gary, Scott?

  8. The atmosphere in City Hall is toxic. I was really marginalized and bullied there — kept as a temporary employee (full-time, but no benefits — I’m a single mom & worked my heart out — while they created benefitted positions all around my department) — it was part of a larger sort of power-consolidation which, I hope, will also soon be fully aired. Gary Yordon would summon me to “meetings” at the Southwood Country Club where he “officed” to tell me I “obviously wasn’t very political.” I said that I remembered Eckerd Drug (one of his shoplifting escapades” and, without missing a beat, he said “I smoked a lot of pot back then.” I told LOTS of folks about this before I quit, in disgust, with the truly unconscionable behavior of Miller, Barber & Friends Of. I am in favor of good government & thought that’s what I was there for. I’m a Bernie liberal — like LEFT of Democrats — and I was just appalled. Don’t pat yourselves on the back or claim to have a monopoly on the moral high ground — this isn’t a Democrat thing. This lot just HAPPENS to purport to be Democrats. It was a real education for me. But it doesn’t make me NOT a Dem. Corruption is atheist, politically.

  9. Sounds like Cynthia Barber wanted to make a city commissioner happy. Doesn’t sound like corruption- or like Commissioner Miller overstepped and gave direction. Commissioner Miller use to run the TAPP program so it is no surprise that she has strong feelings about it. This appears to be trying to make a story out of nothing.

    1. @Jackson: Hmm. Could be. But the “strong feelings” Miller has about TAPP entirely extend to her interest in ensuring her buddies get no-bid contracts. If Cynthia Barber is “making a City Commissioner happy” with taxpayer dollars (that is ensuring that Gary “got his money” without having to compete — and BY THE WAY — Gary doesn’t DO anything for his HUGE pay-outs except the “creative,” (whatever that means. He subs the work out to his other buddies & pockets a handsome profit for . . . being “connected” to NM. And so “making a Commissioner happy” with tax dollars is just SKETCHY. Retaliating against me for trying to make the process fair, competitive, and transparent is just how they act (and why I left). Is that “nothing”? I mean, isn’t it valid to discuss whether that is the “leadership” we want in T-town?

      1. I don’t disagree with what you are saying – but it doesn’t sound like you saw corruption. Reading over this to me, and please correct me if I am wrong, it sounds like only two people applied and it appears only one bid qualified. I look forward to seeing what TR uncovers to provide more info on why MVP’s bid didn’t move forward.

    2. Sounds like someone (Jackson) knows Ms. Barber and is trying to give a little protection. If allegations by Ms. Rubin are correct, Ms. Barber should stand in line and be condemned as just as guilty as N.M. Wrong is wrong, don’t insult yourself or others’ intelligence by trying to make light of something we all know the difference between.

  10. Considering that Nancy Miller’s Brother-in-law, Rich Buss has owed over $350,000 to Premier Bank in the last five years for his failed businesses on repayment of loans-

    See these legal documents of proof of debt judgements of Rich Buss:

    Don’t you think she (Commissioner Nancy Miller)is especially looking out for her brother-in-law on these crooked city deals now being investigated by the FBI?

    Hint, Hint: Rich Buss is a building engineer licensed with contracts of vendors with the city for his company in the past as seen in Tallahassee Reports.

    Wouldn’t take much investigation to follow the corruption and ties with the city’s illegal deals with conflicts of interests for family members…this is while Nancy, Rich and John have all worked for the city in which Nancy Miller and John Buss don’t share the same name as husband and wife?

  11. We don’t know about Commissioner Nancy Miller or her husband John Buss as Head of Tallahassee’s Storm Water Management but we certainly know that Nancy Miller’s brother-in-law Rich Buss is very corrupt, dishonest and racist as they come. He’s been paying hundreds of thousands of dollars back to Premier Bank for loans in recent years.

    Rich Buss and his girlfriend Lynda Pfundstein ran several failed businesses together of AHB, LLC, DAK2, AHBP, LLC, Buss Engineers and The Foreclosed Dakota Apartments in Tallahassee over the last several years together. His Girlfriend is a fruit-loop nut-case while he’s a liar and a crook. This crooked couple team has had several lawsuits on public record by their employee’s, residents and their company even had to pay thousands in taxes to their robbed employees that they attempted to defraud and swindle with the IRS by illegally claiming them as employees. It was seen that Nancy Miller had a secret meeting with her brother-in-law Rich Buss at the Double Tree Hotel some years back with documents in hand. Wonder what type of corrupt deals that she got along with her husband for their crooked brother/(in-law)? Also, why would Nancy Miller not give Tallahassee Reports the name of the company that Rich Buss was associated with for the Tallahassee Reports News Story?

    I guess when you are a crook like Rich Buss that previously worked for the city with coflicts of interests before opening failed businesses resulting in numerous lawsuits — I guess you have alot to hide with your family ties. Hopefully the FBI comes after this fraud and his family if any of them connected were involved in other unlawful activity that can be found and prosecuted for the family ties and dealings of our tax payer’s money.

  12. Thank you Dr.Rubin for having the courage to bring this corruption to the light of day. I don’t have high hopes for any real action to be taken. I honestly believe that regardless of legal action Miller and the rest of her corrupt cohorts will continue to be re-elected. That is the way it works for democrats in Tallahassee. What’s wrong with a little (or a lot)of corruption among friends anyway? The love of power creates a slippery slope.

  13. … More than few have had Miller pegged for a long time. .. My money says there’s going to be more than a few “lawyering up” after those that were subpoenaed start making deals to save themselves….T.R., thanks for all you do.

  14. Why don’t you look at the Franklin Blvd project? Advertised and awarded to a company for a four lane project. After the project was awarded, direction was given to redesign to a two lane project. At that point it should have been put out for bid again as a two lane project. Really surprised no protests from other companies.

  15. Wanna see some real corruption tied into the same project from which the Edison restaurant springboarded? If someone were to delve into the Cascade Park construction and the approved Change Orders, they will find that the city commission approved items that would have been laughed at in private practice-over the objections of the firm that oversaw the development. Also, look into the administration building at the park and how it was funded (and by and for whom). I think it will be very eye-opening.

  16. Let’s not forget that Yordon was a political advisor for Commissioner Miller’s campaign. City contracts have long been used to pay off campaign advisors – even though it’s illegal! Ask Sean Pittman, he is an expert in exchanging campaign advice for city contracts!!

  17. The real surprise here is someone came forward with the truth in this petulie stench of a so called capital……

  18. Not surprising. I guess the laws are made for you and me and not them. It just sucks that these folks keep getting voted in to office. Some will say it is because they are all liberal democrats that say do as I say and not as I do but I guess we will not know that until new people are elected

  19. Now that the FBI is officially involved there will many, many more employees or former employees who will come forward. Folks, this will eventually be national news like Detroit was years ago with the corruption of Kwame Kilpatrick. The difference here is how deep and wide the corruption, unethical conduct, etc. runs. The joke for an “ethics” board will be made to look foolish for turning its collective eyes and the alleged “ethics” officer should be fired for arrogantly turning her nose up to any of the countless complaints raised (and dismissed).

    1. yes, but we’re Wash. D.C. with our own Obama wannabe – Gillam. What has happened with Loretta Lynch, Hillary Clinton (re: Bengazi but much more), Lois Lerner, and Obama himself – even now working to derail Trump’s presidency? Answer: NOTHING. That’s why most of us have lost hope of seeing any justice.

  20. I am shocked that there is corruption in letting a City of Tallahassee Contract, Just shocked.

    After being a resident of Tallahassee for 47 years, nothing surprises me anymore. What is surprising is the FBI can not find anything and if they do by accident because someone screwed up, the US Attorney will do nothing so everyone, do not get your hopes up.

    To add to Hope’s comments, I can honestly say that Tallahassee is worst off today because of Bob Gabordi’s tenure at the Tallahassee Democrat. We would be better off today if he never moved to Tallahassee. He left Tallahassee a worst place and turned a blind eye to corruption at the City.

    Let’s hope the FBI sends in the A-Team.

    1. There was plenty of meat on the bone post-Gabordi. True, he chose to be buddies with these folks and sit on boards with them, etc., but the practice continues and with the sheer volume of stories being ignored it could be argued things are worse. Remember, WCTV ran off Andy Alcock when he began reporting on this stuff. Tallahassee Reports should receive a medal of some kind for its reporting and investigation of the public record. It should be noted “tips” now come to TR. People in town do not trust the other news reporting media outlets. Lastly, have you noticed since the FBI subpoenas the handful of trolls who try to defend the City officials (elected and appointed) have dried up and have nothing to write?

      1. Hi News Maven – actually Bob DID move. When I was recently visiting family in the Melbourne-Cocoa Beach area, I noticed Bob Gabordi’s byline on a “Florida Today” local news article. I checked the Editorial Staff listing and Bob Gabordi is listed as Executive Editor. The saga continues…

        1. OOps – sorry, News Maven. I should have clicked on the link in your comment before writing a reply! I wonder what keeps the Gannett Company going – it seems to be shrinking fast, as does much of the traditional newspaper industry. Now if only the NY Times and Washington Post would shrink out of sight . . .

          1. Since they are incapable of growing revenue, they choose to cut expenses by lopping off scores of hard-working employees. Many of them are doing 3-6 jobs. And no one is better at that than Gabordi. Two decades ago, Gannett employed about 55,000 people. Now, they’re around 24,000. Or less.

  21. Hey Tally when you constantly vote liberal, this is what you get year after year. Honestly this city deserves what they vote in….they will never vote for a conservative.

  22. I saw Nancy Miller state on camera at a city meeting that Gary Yordon should have the contract permanently. Miller was oblivious to the corruption she had just stated and no one said anything.

    When the Chamber of Commerce was questioned as to why they pay a person to emcee their event who was caught shoplifting (while a county commissioner), Gary Yordon threatened to sue.

    Sue Dick and Nancy Miller (along with many other officials) have done a lot of harm to the City of Tallahassee by engaging with a political hack void of humanity and self absorbed in perpetual self promotion.

    Hope the FEDS shut down the corruption so Leon County can pull itself out of the top crime spot. Miller may be ok to serve on a committee, but her leadership has been a fiasco. They all need to be voted out in the next election if they are not all in prison by then.

    Gabordi and Burlew promoted Yordon, Miller, Maddox, etc, rather than making the corruptions front page news.

    Today Dr. Rubin should feel vindication! Commissioner Miller owes Dr. Rubin an apology at the very least.

    1. I feel the pain that those under investigation will soon be feeling. Right now however they are all still in the first stage of coping with possible indictment which is the denial stage.
      Any career can be ruined if the individual is actually indicted (even though not actually convicted). The press can always label you as…for example: “Your Name” former Mayor of Tallahassee who was previously indicted for the Federal crimes of this, that, and the other crime.
      The press may or may not add in a blurb: “Although he/she was not convicted – he/she was previously under Federal indictment for….”.
      Yeah just being indicted can really set back your career. Dempsey Barron wrote a book on this subject that explains the being indicted phenomenon much better than I could.

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