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Palm Bay: New Corruption On Display. They Never Learn.

We normally wait for the day of a meeting to bring forth issues in a particular City or County, but this issue is special.

On Thursday, December 3, 2020, the City Council for the City of Palm Bay will meet at 7:00 PM for a regular meeting. This will be one of the first meetings since three new members of the Council – Randy Foster, Donny Felix and Rob Medina – were sworn in after the election.

The agenda for the meeting can be found here.

Item 4 of “new business” – the last item on the agenda is:

4. Consideration of a pay adjustment for sworn and communications center personnel within the Police Department ($478,350).

We can argue all day as to whether the police need or deserve a pay increase. The City and the Department is using a time worn argument that the City is near the bottom in pay for surrounding areas so they need to move up to retain officers. The problem with that argument is that someone or some group is always going to be below the mean average of a group. Cities use the “we are below average in pay” to grant pay raises which then raises the mean average and the cycle repeats over and over and over. We aren’t going to do down that rabbit hole for now.

There are two issues with this pay raise increase:

1) The pay and compensation is negotiated by contract. If the police union is unhappy with their compensation, let them come to the negotiating table and negotiate in good faith.
2) Part of the proposal is a bonus of $1000 per year of service to existing employees for up to 4 years of service ($4000.)

When the JLAC investigation was released, one of the items was a bonus to a City Attorney that the City attempted to justify, but was against state law. Specifically Florida Statute 215.425:

215.425 Extra compensation claims prohibited; bonuses; severance pay.—

(1) No extra compensation shall be made to any officer, agent, employee, or contractor after the service has been rendered or the contract made

There is no legal way for the City to pay this bonus.

There are several things that we find interesting about this proposal. Former City Manager Lisa Morrell was working on cleaning up and responding to the allegations on the JLAC report. At her side was Suzanne Sherman, the now acting City Manager. It is Sherman’s name is on the cover memo for the agenda item. It is impossible for us to believe that Sherman is so incompetent as to not remember the JLAC report and the bonus issue illegally paid to one of the City Attorneys specifically. Yet there we have her name and a “staff recommendation” to approve the pay increase and bonuses.

City Attorney Patricia Smith was not only in the employ of the City when the bonus to a fellow worker in her department was paid, but she is responsible for making sure the City does things legally. At this Ms. Smith continues to fail miserably.

We have to wonder why this is on the agenda to begin with. Why is the City looking at pay increases and bonuses right after the election?

Putting our tinfoil hat on, we note that all three of the new Council members were endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police. Is this payback? We don’t know and are only speculating.

What we do know is that this whole proposal is outside of the law – a law that the City is well away of and was cited for violating less than a year ago.

Everyone in the City government talks about corruption and how they want to see it end to “repair and enhance Palm Bay’s reputation.”

Yet here the citizens of Palm Bay can now see the nothing has changed. The people on the dais may be different, but the corruption and the unwillingness to follow the laws of the State of Florida still exists.

Here is the agenda item culled from the agenda:




2 Responses to “Palm Bay: New Corruption On Display. They Never Learn.”

  1. Percy says:

    Unbelievable that their legal counsel hasn’t already contacted the city and had this item removed from the agenda. You would think with all the problems PB has had that the entire city (elected officials, legal counsel, and staff) should be more aware of the JLAC findings and doing more to avoid repeating past mistakes.

    • AAfterwit says:

      Percy,

      Thanks for the comment.

      It really isn’t that unbelievable. The City Attorney has shown a propensity in the past to ignore the laws of the land in order to back her clients, which is the City Council.

      She has lied to the people of Palm Bay to help advance a political agenda from some Council members.

      She has supported ordinances that trample on the rights of people.

      We have no faith in the woman. None.

      People talk all the time about corruption, but here is a case where the corrupt are being given cover by another corrupt person.

      She won’t say anything because she can’t make the type of coin she is making now anywhere else.

      Thanks again.

      A. Afterwit.

  2. […] We had discussed two agenda items for the December 3, 2020 Palm Bay City Council meeting. The first was the proposal for making December 24th an official paid holiday for City employees and the second was to address the pay of police and communications workers within the City. […]

  3. […] We had discussed two agenda items for the December 3, 2020 Palm Bay City Council meeting. The first was the proposal for making December 24th an official paid holiday for City employees and the second was to address the pay of police and communications workers within the City. […]

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