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.
We need NEBA to take a more active role? Silence is for the city commissioners.
Glad to see The CRS is stepping in and calling COT out – it’s way past time that widespread public condemnation from authoritative private boards and citizens is loudly aimed at our city officials, all of them. Although the COT may refuse to cooperate with any recommendations that impede their corrupt practices, at least they’ll know everyone is aware of their actions and their days in office are numbered. Tallahassee desperately needs recall and/or termination policies that allow ANY city official to be removed from office at ANY time for actions that violate the city charter, or city and state law. Also they should also be terminated (at any time) for a “pattern of conduct” in office that indicates a lack of strict adherence to ethical standards, even if it’s not in direct violation of the letter of the law.
Any day, FBI (we’re waiting!) – Please make an example here in Tallahassee that scares the living daylights out of all Florida city and County officials. “This could be you.” needs to be the message sent. If elected officials won’t obey the law willingly, then abject fear may have to suffice.
I’m so sorry I missed this press conference… The City of Tallahassee is no longer serving/treating all citizens the same…
When did it in your lifetime?
Governor Scott could step in and address this and other (Gillum, Maddox, etc.) issues at any given time?
Where’s the FBI when we need them; any time would be fine!
Don’t forget Fernandez’s Co-horts in crime also – like the Eddie Kring connection who was hired in thanks for handing out discounts at Corey’s restaurant….; leaving these other characters in place just spreads the corruption through lower levels in the City.
Absolutely REQUIRE an outside search for a City Attorney; they have already internally anointed and prepped Cassandra Jackson for this position; don’t let this happen CRS.
Also CRS – start looking at the Assistant City Managers; one specifically definitely needs to go; re: Crime Rate in Tallahassee.
No sir, I don’t believe that Governor Rick Scott has any authority to “step in” on what’s happening at City Hall…once there are indictments that’ll be a different story…but even though there are questions because the Tallahassee City Charter states that the remaining City Commissioners shall select the replacements for any commissioners that are forced out of office…oi vey!…NOT good news if that proves to be the case…
As for the FBI, while we all want them to do whatever they’re going to do, for me, I want them to take their time, and get it right…when the indictments are issued by the federal grand jury, and I truly believe there will be a host of them (perhaps as many as 5-10), we want them to be able to prosecute them successfully…otherwise we’ll never get rid of this insidious corruption…
Most importantly, we MUST elect the right people to the City Commission in November 2018…if we can get at least three new commissioners, we can indeed change the culture – and do it immediately!!
I now understand the procedure better per Governor Scott involvement, thank you; as the indictments are issued, we can then see these folks removed. Can their retirement be forfeited and can we have them pay back mis-used tax payer funds?
I appreciate the words of wisdom on patience with the FBI, I agree a thorough and comprehensive investigation wil be best. That helps. There is just overwhelming reported obvious issues that are just the tip of this iceberg that require address.
5-10 City of Tallahassee employees indicted only scratch the surface; CRS did a great job succinctly presenting 3 concisely stated action items directed at Fernandez, legal department, and ethics – but now it’s time to drive deeper into: 1) the Miller/ Buss issues (TAPP funding), 2) Personnel Department, Ellen Blair, and their numerous roles in strategically placing managers at critical positions with extremely high salaries with annual pay raises plus other increases (over $100,000) for a large number of employees – for instance just look at Cynthia Barber’s salary and ask what were her qualifications (as hired by Rick Fernandez) in her current role? and 3) the roles of other licensed (advisory and/or practicing?) attorney’s in other positions with the City.
Just 3 quick examples.
Per Dr. Jackson: Yes – NEBA’s support would be appropriate – as would the Budget Hawks.
How about a follow-up joint press conference?
Thank you for your efforts.
How about recalling the entire City Commission.
Still waiting on the Mayor to be forced to resign for misuse of public funds…same as the employee in City Report #0820.
Yes sir Mr. Thompson
Or is it Gil Ziffer?
I just love the predictive smarter than me text function when I forget to turn it off.
Mayor in waiting needs Fernandez’ special insider knowledge of fear and intemidation not to mention his ability to lie without giving it a second thought to keep city employees in line and silent on any usual suspect activity.
In case you just arrived in town on a turnip truck our Mayor In Waiting is a creepy man named Girl Differ.