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Palm Bay: Fisking Council Comments On Dismissing Gregg Lynk.

We have talked about the dismissal of former Palm Bay City Manager Gregg Lynk and subsequent events. This post will deal not with the basis for the dismissal, but the comments made by Councilman Anderson and Santiago who voted to retain Lynk. We may touch on Lynk somewhat, but we really want to concentrate on the reasoning and thought processes the two men expounded upon during the discussion on the resolution to dismiss Lynk.

You can watch the video of this portion of the meeting on the “Video on Demand” page of the City’s website. (See here.)

The resolution to dismiss Lnnk was Councilman Bailey’s and as such he led off the discussion starting at 25:55 of the video.

Bailey stated:

COUNCILMAN BAILEY: Mayor, and I want us on that last piece there (comments by a citizen) on self control and I want to be in control so I wrote down certain thoughts. I think that this is something that for a lot of those folks who were speaking tonight, and the people up here, including Councilman Johnson now, these are not new concerns in the City with Management. I think there’s been a lot of information aired out not just eight minutes of information. It’s throughout the campaign trail and throughout just watching the City and being involved for the last couple of years. For my opinion, and that my opinion is that the City suffers from poor management for a number of years and we need to make real changes. I think this election reflected the need for that. And with a one-time $150 million dollar bond for roads coming, we need to have the right financial management in place immediately to insure we can get the most critical work done and accomplished in a reasonable time frame in the City. And I believe that right now we are lacking those skill sets to be able to do that – to move forward – with such an expensive project. So I believe that new management is the best way for the City to recover. I know that there’s folks who think that might be a negative thing, if somehow you are tied to that person, that’s fine. Not everybody’s going to be pleased. But I do believe that making sure we switch it now….we’re not going to be able to switch it a few months from now. It’s going to be much more difficult as we move forward with other projects to make that type of transition. We need to get started now and immediately. So I think we need to build a more co-operative relationship with all stakeholders and rebuild the trust with the citizens and all the stakeholders in the City. So that kind of gives the general…I don’t think it is appropriate to get into too many weeds. I think there are other questions of “for cause” that would be put out there if Council wants to consider those, that’s up to them. That’s my speech and of course I know that to me this is business and I think this is the smartest business choice moving the City forward. I think there are a lot of folks that would agree to that.

Councilman Anderson responded:

COUNCILMAN ANDERSON: Since he spoke about the bond I’ll talk about the bond a little bit – about the $150 million. That bond got put on the ballot four to one – you voted against that bond so that’s a little misjudgment right there because the people passed that overwhelmingly 66 to 33 percent and 46,000 votes were cast for that – 41,000 for Kenny’s race and 40,000 in your race – so I would think that the people trust Palm Bay.

There were two big issues in this past election in Palm Bay. Roads and dealing with corruption (real and perceived ethical issues.) Anderson would have had to have been deaf not to know that.

After 2016, when the City voters passed the Special Assessment language to the Charter, anytime people voiced concerns and opposition to the rates of the special assessment, either Anderson, Santiago or then Councilman Holton (and sometimes all three) would say to the people in the audience, the voters voted overwhelmingly for the Special Assessment. The problem is that the voters felt so misled by the City Council and the City Manager on the costs they would be forced to pay for roads, that this year the voters turned around and said “we aren’t falling for the lies anymore. Give us the roads and the infrastructure maintenance City Councils have been promising us for years.”

So while Anderson was one of the voices talking about how the Special Assessments were “the will of the people because they voted for it,” the people turned around and said “no….go a different way.” Far from showing a trust in the City and the City Council, the vote on the bond issue showed the people had awoken to the fact they had been lied to and deceived and wanted what they perceived to be a more fair and equitable distribution of costs on roads.

We have no idea how the large number of votes cast shows a “trust in the City of Palm Bay.” We think a more realistic conclusion is that people want the roads paved and maintained. The large number of people voting on the issue shows a passion for the issue – not trust in the City government and administration.

I mean to hand you a $150 million dollars? They knew who the (City) Manager was. They knew who the Council was. There were 6,000 more votes for the bond than in your particular race.

“I’m not voting for roads because of the City Manager” said no one ever.

That’s an out of touch belief by Anderson.

We aren’t sure in what world Anderson is living, but at the time of the vote, the people didn’t know who the Council was. Was Anderson asleep during the entire campaign season? When the bond issue was placed on the ballot, did anyone hear Anderson proclaim that Kenny Johnson would be sitting on the dais? Did he proclaim that Bailey would be re-elected by the voters? If he did – if he had some sort of crystal ball, we missed that pronouncement.

Quite simply, people did not know the makeup of the Council prior to their casting of votes on November 6th.

Furthermore, Anderson needed only to look two seats to his right to see that people didn’t exactly trust or believe in the Council that was sitting in 2016 when the special assessment was passed. The biggest proponent of the special assessment and the person who pooh-poohed anyone who spoke against the rates by saying “the people voted for the assessment” was not longer in the seat. People had had enough of Tred Holton, his misrepresentations, his attacks on people with whom he disagreed and his ethical issues. Far from being a vote on the trustworthiness of the City Council and City Manager, the voters kicked one of the sitting Council members to the curb. In a three person race for that seat, Holton cane in a distant third. That’s how much the City trusted the Council they “knew.”

In addition, it may have escaped Anderson’s notice, but the citizens can’t vote on the City Manager. The City Manager serves at the pleasure of the City Council. The two men who had been on the campaign trail listening to voters and voter concerns voted to remove Lynk. That’s how much they thought the people trusted the City Manager.

Anderson’s comment on people “giving” the City $150 million is misplaced as well. The people are not giving the City anything. They are paying for the roads just like they pay for groceries. No one says “hey, I gave Publix $10 today because I trust them.” No, people say “I paid Publix for goods.” That’s what the people did. They voted to pay for roads after years of mismanagement and broken promises by prior Councils and the one Anderson was so proud of.

Ultimately what you are going to do with this bond is . . . . work is not going to start in the summer of 2019 if you make an administrative shakeup right now. We’ll be lucky if work starts in 2020.

Anderson must not have realized it, but basically he 1) gave a reason to terminate Lynk and 2) insulted every employee that works for the City.

1) As part of their job, good managers train the people beneath them to do the manager’s job. If Anderson thinks that the City will stop moving forward or will have a bunch of people sitting on their butts all day play Candy Crush, that is an indictment of Lynk’s lack of leadership. Anderson seems to believe that Lynk is the “indispensable man” in the City’s chain of command. That’s a failure right there.

This is not to say that Lynk had not trained subordinates, but rather Anderson’s impressions and thought are no a good argument to be making to retain Lynk. Our comment is not about Lynk, but Anderson’s thoughts and thought process.

2) Over the past years, we have watched two other cities in Brevard County – Satellite Beach and Cocoa Beach – have City managers be dismissed or resign. In neither City did City programs or improvements stop. In fact, Cocoa Beach’s approval of what probably the largest capital gains project in the City’s history – a new City Hall and parking garage for $42 million dollars – was started and shepherded through much of the process by an interim City Manager. Cocoa Beach has roughly 11,000 residents and a staff comparable to that population level. If you expand the population out and staffing out to that of Palm Bay, you have a project of $420 million that the employees of Cocoa Beach were not missing a beat on.

Is Anderson really saying that these other cities have better people to the point that their staffs don’t crumble without a specific City Manager but Palm Bay would? Can’t wait for the employees of Palm Bay to digest that insult.

And I know your big thing is saving the taxpayer money, well, if you do this right now, you know the package that you have to give Gregg when he walks out that door. If there are other things that are happening right now and that happens, there’s no package that he gets. But if he walks out that door right now tonight, he’s getting a nice package not to mention what we spend on the new City Manager which is somewhere around $200,000 dollars that City Managers are going for. I’m sure they’re going to want that, especially with $150 million dollars to spend. So I get what you think business wise and business move, if we are talking about taxpayer dollars and getting the bond off to the right foot, this is completely the wrong way to do it, and it is Thanksgiving tomorrow sir and I would have appreciated this December 6th.

We aren’t sure if Anderson is sleeping through these meetings but the City Manager isn’t getting “$150 million dollars to spend.” There is an oversight committee on the road construction as well as the fact the City Council – the very City Council that Anderson is on – approves the budget as well as will approve the issuance of individual bonds as projects move forward.

It is not a “free for all spend-a-thon” that Anderson seems to portraying.

Quite simply we found very little logic and critical thinking skills in Anderson’s comments. We thought they were horrible misplaced and not very convincing. We thought that comments on the issue couldn’t get much worse.

That’s was before we heard Councilman Santiago speak.

COUNCILMAN SANTIAGO: Mayor, if I may, I couldn’t have said it better than Councilman Anderson.

Be afraid….be very afraid if Santiago couldn’t make a better case for the retention of Gregg Lynk than Anderson did.

Right now I will not support this. I will also say that not only did the people overwhelmingly voted and gave us $150 million dollars to fix the infrastructure,……

No. No. No! NO! NO!

They voted to pay for roads because you and other Councils failed to do your jobs.

…….. but remember, even in 2016, they gave us seven referendums and all that was done with this City Manager right here which is unheard of and never been done in the history of this City.

We do remember 2016. Santiago does not – at least how it relates to trust in the City Council and the City Management.

In 2016, there were seven referendums on the ballot. All of them were approved. They were (followed by our comments:)

NO. 1
CHARTER AMENDMENT PROVIDING FOR LIMITATIONS ON AD VALOREM TAXES

Shall section 6.01 of the City of Palm Bay charter be amended to provide that the City Council shall not impose any ad valorem tax at a millage rate that results in total ad valorem revenues for that fiscal year exceeding the total ad valorem revenues from the previous fiscal year by more than three percent, unless the City Council by supermajority vote finds that an emergency or critical need exists?

This was the “we can’t stop you from spending but we can restrict how much you can tax us which prevents you from spending like drunken sailors as you have in the past,” referendum. The overwhelming vote to restrict tax increases showed that either people were tired of ever increasing tax hikes without much to show for it or “we don’t trust you with our money” or both. No matter what, the passage of this referendum was not a ringing endorsement of “trust” in the City. It is the exact opposite.

NO. 2
CHARTER AMENDMENT PROVIDING FOR PRIMARY ELECTIONS FOR CANDIDATES FOR MAYOR AND CITY COUNCIL

Shall the City of Palm Bay charter be amended to provide that primary elections be held for the offices of Mayor and City Councilmember, with the two candidates receiving the most votes then being placed on the general election ballot, unless there are fewer than three candidates for any such office, in which event the primary election shall be bypassed and the names of the candidates shall be placed directly on the general election ballot?

This is a “housekeeping” item. It neither endorses or belies any trust in the City government.

NO. 3
CHARTER AMENDMENT GOVERNING COMPENSATION OF THE MAYOR AND CITY COUNCILMEMBERS

Shall section 3.03 of the City of Palm Bay charter be amended to provide that the salary for the office of Mayor be set at 20 cents per capita, and the salary for the office of Councilmember be set at 10 cents per capita, with all future salary increases limited to the lesser of the annual increase given to City employees or the annual increase in the Consumer Price Index?

Another housekeeping referendum. At best, since the pay increase would not take place until after sitting members of the Council were gone, a case can be made that the voters didn’t want to pay that Council more but were willing to pay future Councils more.

NO. 4
CHARTER AMENDMENT GOVERNING PROHIBITION ON FORMER ELECTED CITY OFFICIALS BEING EMPLOYED BY CITY

Shall section 3.053 of the City of Palm Bay charter be amended to provide that former elected city officials nor their familial relatives may hold compensated appointed city office or employment for two years after the expiration of the term for which they were elected?

This would be the “we don’t trust people who sit on the Council, become cozy with the people who hire employees and then get hired by the City after they leave the elected office” referendum. There is absolutely no trust displayed there. If the people really trusted elected officials as being intelligent, ethical and qualified, they wouldn’t want them to leave the City and seek employment elsewhere.

NO. 5
CHARTER AMENDMENT GOVERNING QUALIFICATIONS FOR CITY COUNCILMEMBERS

Shall section 5.02 of the City of Palm Bay charter be amended to provide that candidates for the office of city council must be residents of the City of Palm Bay for at least two years immediately preceding the date of the election?

The “carpetbagger” referendum which effectively prevents people from “Council shopping” and hopping from city to city to get a job on various Councils. We don’t see any trust in elected officials there.

NO. 6
CHARTER AMENDMENT GOVERNING TERM LIMITS FOR CITY COUNCILMEMBERS

Shall section 5.04 of the City of Palm Bay charter be amended to provide that no Councilmember may appear on the ballot for reelection if by the end of their current term of office, the Councilmember will have served, or but for resignation, would have served, in that office for twelve consecutive years?

We here at Raised on Hoecakes are against term limits for a number of reasons that we need not go into now. Many people are for them because they don’t trust elected officials who make a career of sitting in offices independent of the quality of the job they do. We can’t see how term limits are anything but a demonstration of a lack of trust in elected officials.

NO. 7
CHARTER AMENDMENT GOVERNING THE IMPOSITION OF SPECIAL ASSESSMENTS

Shall section 6.02 of the City of Palm Bay charter be amended to provide that the City Council may impose special assessments for: (1) the construction, repair, and maintenance of roadways and all appurtenant facilities and infrastructure including sidewalks, greenbelts, and street lighting; and (2) the construction, repair, and maintenance of stormwater and wastewater management facilities, water supply and distribution systems, canals, and all appurtenant infrastructure, consistent with law or ordinance?

This is the “fix the daggone roads!” referendum. No one voted on this because of “trust.” They voted for this because they want roads laid, maintained and repaired. As we stated earlier, once the costs came to light and it was shown that the Council and City management had not been exactly honest and forthcoming on the assessments, the people took a turn away from this because the Council refused to listen and was simply not trustworthy.

Of the seven referendums, two were effectively neutral as far as “trust” is concerned. The other five referendums show that voters acted to further restrict the authority and actions of Council members due to a lack of trust. Far from being a huge display of trust in the City as Santiago remembers it or wants to wrongfully portray it, the seven referendums on the 2016 were a decided display of a lack of trust in the City and elected officials.

So I think, you heard it, you heard it from a lot of folks here not only from the public, but also for people who work for the City, there’s a lot of trust for the City Manager, and I want to keep it going.

There are two things of note in this statement as it pertains to employees. First, as we noted in a previous post, the union heads who spoke of a glowing relationship with Lynk and said “no grievances had been filed” is not an endorsement for the City Manager. Union / management relationships are always contentious and the fact that the City rolled over each time a grievance was threatened or an issue arose with a union is not a positive thing.

Secondly, when the group that wanted to return the Charter to the 2016 pre-election language on special assessments was collecting signatures for a petition to put the issue on the ballot, employees were threatened with termination if they signed the petition. The public comments on the issue of dismissal of Lynk were prior to the Council discussion which means that no one could have gotten a read on which way the Council was leaning. We dare say that there would be very few brave souls that would stand up and say “Lynk needs to go” because if the vote failed, they would most likely be on the chopping block themselves.

Can’t say it any better than Councilman Anderson, I’m not going to support this.

This was a truthful statement. Santiago couldn’t say it any better, but he managed to voice his objections in a worse and more dishonest way.

There is a lot more coming down the pike about the dismissal of Lynk that night. We don’t think the whole story will bode well for Messrs. Santiago and Anderson, but that is in the future.

For now, we wanted to discuss what they said, and what we feel is a lack of critical thinking and honesty.




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