Just Say “No.” Part I.

EDITOR’S NOTE: As we wrote this post, it bloomed into something that is over 4000 words, which is far too long for any post – even if you have time to read it during the current pandemic. It’s too long to get through with one cup of coffee and we don’t want to be accused of creating or feeding caffeine addictions.

This is part one of a two part series. Part two will be posted tomorrow.

(That’s assuming we haven’t been arrested.)

Last week, Brevard County Emergency Management Director Kimberly Prosser announced she was resigning from her position in order to take a job in the private sector.

Brevard County Public Safety Group Director Matthew Wallace said John Scott, the county’s deputy director of emergency management and director of operations, will fill Prosser’s position on an interim basis. Scott also runs the county’s Emergency Operations Center in Rockledge when it is activated.

(As a side note, Commissioner Tobia said this about the resignation:

County Commissioner John Tobia, however, said he is not happy about the timing of Prosser’s resignation.

“I think it’s disgraceful that our emergency management director would step down in the middle of a pandemic and a week before hurricane season begins,” Tobia said.

According to the article:

Prosser previously had been the county’s director of communications and Space Coast Government Television since 2005.

Before joining county government, Prosser was community relations and marketing director for Brevard Community College (now Eastern Florida State College) and communications training officer for the Cocoa Police Department.

She is a former member of the Rockledge City Council, the Rockledge Planning Commission and the Rockledge Citizens Advisory Committee, which she chaired.

That’s a great amount of service to the County and other organizations that affect residents of Brevard County. We believe she can leave or resign whenever the heck she wants. Her position is not one of indentured servitude. Unless there is some sort of accusation and proof of impropriety on the part of Prosser and or her new employer, Tobia is wrong to call the actions of someone looking to better themselves, make more money, or deal with new challenges “disgraceful.”)

Sheriff Wayne Ivey has said that he is interested in adding the position to his duties and there is support on the Commission for that to happen:

County Commission Vice Chair Rita Pritchett said Ivey had discussed with her as far back as two years ago the potential for Ivey taking over running emergency management.

Pritchett believes the timing may be right now, with Prosser’s resignation, which takes effect June 5.

“I think it’s a good idea,” Pritchett said, especially if Ivey can save the county money through the reorganization.

County Commissioner John Tobia said Ivey contacted him this week to discuss Ivey’s interest in running emergency management for the county.

The issue came up at Thursday night’s County Commission meeting, which is the last one before commissioners take their June break from scheduled meetings.

Commissioners agreed to have county staff work with Ivey to examine the feasibility of such a transition that would put Ivey in charge of emergency management.

Tobia said it is important for the county to do a feasibility study of various potential operational issues before the County Commission decides on whether to move forward.

“This is a compete paradigm shift,” Tobia said.

Ivey told commissioners he was pleased that the County Commission had the confidence in his team, and that he would work to get the information back to them within a month.

Ivey previously has taken over running the county’s animal services and enforcement operations, as well as Port Canaveral’s law enforcement operations.

To this proposal, we believe the County Commission should “JUST SAY ‘NO.'”

We say this because we have become increasingly concerned with Ivey’s behavior and leadership over the past few years as we believe it crosses legal and ethical lines, if not moral lines.

A few weeks ago, Ivey and 5 other members of the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO) stood outside a home in Titusville making a video on the illegal activities in the house. Ivey stated that there had been over 100 calls for service to the address over the last year. In the video, Ivey seems to call for vigilante justice against the people in the house because of the neighbors being disturbed. That’s close to crossing a line, but raises the question “if the house and the people living and visiting it are so much of a legal problem, where are the arrests?

Also problematic to us is the fact that 1) as Ivey has screamed for more money, why was there a need for at least six members of the BCSO to be there filming the video instead of patrolling and doing actual police work? How much time and money was spent on that video when Ivey is saying he needs more money for his department? 2) Ivey and the officers are standing in the middle of the street as the video is being made. Standing in the street like that violates the county code. Are Ivey and other members of the BCSO above the law? We agree that it is a small violation, but it is not the magnitude of the violation, but the attitude behind it that concerns us.

People on social media ate the video up saying Ivey is tough on crime.

The next day, Ivey released another video filmed at the house.

In a follow-up video, posted the next day on BCSO’s Facebook page, Ivey gives the public exactly that.

Viewed more than 300,000 times, the video begins with Ivey standing outside a BCSO car parked at the Brevard County Jail. A deputy stands next to the car’s backseat door looking away from the camera, as if waiting for his cue.

The sheriff boasts: “Yesterday, we gave them a good warning. Today, I’m going to walk one of them into jail.”

The deputy then opens the door and pulls out a young man in shorts and a T-shirt, who Ivey said broke into a home immediately after BCSO shot the first video in Port St. John. Ivey and the deputy escort him into the jail, both holding the man’s arms.

“You’re going to break the law in Brevard County, you better find someplace else to do it,” Ivey warns the man (and viewers) as they walk.

They close a heavy metal door behind them.

Great. Ivey and his officers busted some small fry at the house. Ivey, as he often does, will make videos of people as they are walked to jail and while that is somewhat concerning as so called “perp walks” can poison the jury pool, when the biggest arrest in Brevard County occurred, Ivey was no where to be seen.

We are, of course talking about the arrest of David Isnardi after an investigation by the FBI and the FDLE into political shenanigans and alleged illegal activities. Isnardi was the Palm Bay Deputy City Manager and his wife Kristin Isnardi sits on the County Commission. It is hard to imagine an arrest having more real and potential impact in Brevard County and yet Ivey was no where to be found for Isnardi’s perp walk.

We suppose that it is better to show “small alleged criminals” being arrested than “big fish” being arrested because of political implications.

That in a nutshell is our concern. Ivey seems to put politics above the law and it’s enforcement.

After all, it’s not like Ivey himself ever breaks the law?

Or does he?

When county commissioners give final approval to the sheriff’s budget on Tuesday as expected — as they did in a 4-1 preliminary vote — they will be doing so largely based on trust. That’s because at least three of them have not seen Ivey’s detailed financial plans of the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office. The other two — Chair Kristine Isnardi and Vice Chair Bryan Lober — did not respond to written questions from FLORIDA TODAY for comment on this topic.

Ivey seems intent on keeping his detailed budget closely held, despite several citizens and FLORIDA TODAY asking the BCSO for itemized details of the budget.

Unlike other parts of the budget, commissioners and the county’s Budget Office do not have access to a line-item accounting of the BCSO budget — only a top-line summary — partly because the BCSO budget is on a different budgeting software system than the county departments under direct management of the county manager and County Commission. That’s also true of the budgets of most of Brevard’s other elected constitutional officers, but they did not seek approval to exceed the spending cap this year.

It was clear to everyone that Ivey and the BSCO was breaking the Chapter 119 of the Florida Statutes – the so called “Sunshine Law” that requires public agencies to provide to the public documentation on public issues when asked.

Ivey and the BCSO failed to do that in a clear violation of the law.

The result?

Kristin Isnardi called any criticism of Ivey on that issue “pretty obscene.”

We guess Ivey not holding onto her husband as Isnardi took the “perp walk” means that Ivey can break the law and not even get criticized for it.

No matter what, Ivey and the BCSO set itself up to be above the law and that to us is unacceptable.

(more in Part II tomorrow.)

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