“The audit has brought some things to light that Mr. Daniels touched on. Council Member Miller inappropriately used Town funds. She orchestrated a “Beautiful Dreamer’s Awards Banquet” last February on her own. She arranged for the purchase of food drinks, supplies, programs, plaques, decorations, etc. without consulting with the Town Manager. Purchases were not known to myself until the credit card bills and invoices arrived the following month.
Section 3.02 (K) of the Town Charter states that the Town Manager “Be the purchasing agent for the town, for the purpose of all supplies and equipment in accordance with the approved town budget.” Council Member Miller violated this section of the Charter.
Section 6.09 Administration of the budget (b) Payments and obligations 2. Violations. Authorization of payment or incurring of an obligation in violation of this subsection, or any payment so made is illegal.
Council Member Miller incurred obligations and utilized the HOPE account for these items. Although the HOPE funds originated from a donation secured by Council Member Miller, they are still public funds.
Through the administrative assistant, she directed the public works staff to set up tables and chairs in the Tourism Center to get ready for the dinner and banquet. Directing staff is a power vested in the Town Manager by the Charter.
Section 3.02 (b) of the Town Charter states that the Town Manager “Direct and supervise the administration of all departments, offices and agencies of the town.” Council Member Miller violated this section of the Charter. She has done this on other occasions with other employees. I will only provide you with a few of the instances I am aware of for the sake of brevity.
On 8/26/16 she called the Police Chief and directly instructed her to be available by phone on Monday or Tuesday for a conference call she was going to have with DJJ and Mrs. Wintons. CM Miller said they needed to prove to DJJ that the Town was competent to handle the administrative part of the program; that it wouldn’t be an issue to do so; and that she was going through with it. When told by the Chief that she was not going to be in Monday through Wednesday, CM Miller told her to be available by phone.
On Monday, 8/22/16, she called the administrative assistant and told her to tell me to attend a meeting the following morning at Hamilton High in Phyllis Porter’s office regarding DJJ. I received this message via email.
Earlier in the summer, CM Miller directed me to pay the HOPE employees after they had not been paid by the HCSB for the 3 weeks they had been working.
She had communications with the HCSB that she did not share with me. CM Miller only told me that the HCSB would be handling the HOPE program and would be the fiscal agent. However the HCSB had not processed payroll for 3 weeks. She gave various reasons for the inability of the HCSB to pay the employees, but was insistent that I should process the payroll sheets she handed to me. I declined to do so. I piut this on the agenda for the Council approval at the July 12th meeting. The HOPE employees were not sure who they were working for and quite frankly, neither was I. The confusion created by CM Miller was unnecessary and it embarrassed both town and the HCSB.
The Town of White Springs operates under a Council Manager form of government. The Council is a 5 member board and no one member should have more power than any other. CM Miller has spoken on behalf of the Council and Town and made decisions on behalf of the town on various occasions without Council approval.
When the Council voted for the Town to apply for the DJJ In Children Program, CM Miller solicited the Hamilton County School Board for help. She had the Board apply for the grant with the TOWS HOPE program as a partner. None of this was communicated to the staff or Council by CM Miller prior to grant submittal.
Staff learned from the DJJ that the HCSB was not interested in administering the program. When the DJJ said that they would be open to having the Town administer the grant, if the Town could adequately prove its capability in doing so. CM Miller spoke on behalf of the Town to say the Town was capable and willing. It became necessary for the representative from DJJ to copy me on an email exchange he was having with CM Miller and ask for clarification on who was speaking on behalf of the Town. CM Miller was giving the DJJ different information than I was. She was so intent on getting what she wanted, she was willing to circumvent the Council in the process.
CM Miller later made false statements on her facebook page regarding the facts surrounding the DJJ Invest in Children Program grant award. She incorrectly recounted the events and attempted to tarnish some of the Council Members’ images, as well as my own. There are emails that document the entire course of events regarding the DJJ Invest in Children issue. These emails do not match up with CM Miller’s version. Public officials should not use a social media platform to create “alternative facts” that are untrue.
I have just learned that CM Miller has been working with Stephen Foster Park to attempt to hold a summer HOPE program there this year. There has been no communication regarding the HOPE program between her and myself, nor the Council. Residents who have come to Town Hall to ask are told that we don’t know if there will be a program this year.
I called the park to ask about this, and they will apparently be waiving the fees for the use of the buildings. I commend the park for its involvement and willingness to assist the youth in our community.
However, why don’t we know what is going on? She told the park she is trying to get the SBA to be the fiscal agent for the grant funds. Are we going to get into another situation like last year when the HOPE workers were not paid? Will the Town again have to step in and clean up the confusion that CM Miller has created?
I’d like to read you an excerpt from the minutes of February 26, 2013.
CM Miller is a rogue Council Member operating on her own, making decisions on behalf of the Town and speaking on behalf of the Town. I bring this to the full Council’s attention at this forum and ask you to address the problem.”
So there you have the situation. When this was under appeal, unfortunately two out of three judges did not feel they should overturn the District Court decision even with Helen Miller attempting to protect her reputation. Because of this Helen Miller was unable to get paid 50% of her defense costs and knowing how costly attorneys are first hand, we had hoped that the Ethics Commission would have helped, but it looks like case 18-019 may not be handled at the Florida Commission on Offender Review Hearing Rome on January 24, 2020. Joe had hoped this would have helped Miller at the time of the complaint but it may be moot and we no longer can speak but rather everything has been investigated.
Karin for the blog