Text messages obtained by Tallahassee Reports show that a discussion between a campaign contributor and Leon County Commissioner David O’Keefe during a September 21, 2023 Blueprint meeting concluded that the Blueprint Intergovernmental Agency attorney – Susan Dawson – was “absolutely awful.”
Dawson began serving as the Blueprint Attorney on November 7, 2019. She received her Juris Doctorate degree from the University of Florida and was admitted to The Florida Bar in 1996.
The exchange came after a discussion at the Blueprint meeting – led by O’Keefe – related to the Northeast Gateway project.
The Northeast Gateway is a road project designed to address traffic issues and accommodate growth around the Welaunee property.
O’Keefe was concerned about a “massive increase” in the budget and moved to cut the recommended funding for the project.
However, during the debate Dawson noted the project was much further along than other Blueprint projects, with contracts in place, bids out and right-of-way negotiations under way.
“So I want you to be aware of the obligations that are out there contractually and legally. There are huge implications for this. I want make sure the directors are aware of these implications”, said Dawson.
The board voted 7-3 in favor of fully funding the gateway, with O’Keefe and City Commissioners Jeremy Matlow and Jack Porter voting no.
After the vote O’Keefe messaged Bill Peebles, an O’Keefe campaign supporter who donated $1,000 during the last campaign cycle.
O’Keefe: “I’m gonna move to establish board attorney position who reports directly to the board and represents the board….Just like the county.”
Peebles responded: “It’s a start. That lawyer is absolutely awful.”
O’Keefe responded: “Agreed!”
Commissioner O’Keefe provided the following statement to TR:
“I’ve made it clear that I believe the IA Board needs an attorney who reports directly to the twelve IA Board members. That’s precisely why I made the motion to hire an attorney to represent and report directly to the twelve IA Board members and not management. Because Attorney Dawson reports to management, she often represents management’s perspective. I do not think that represents the IA Board members’ perspective.”