Many Citizens had complaints on the manner in which the Town was run by our former Town Manager and the two prior mayors to Mayor Miller. Not only were these complaints culminated in our various articles of the White Springs Journal, but complaints likewise were sent to the Commission on Ethics.
Many of these complaints came back stipulating the Commission could not do anything regarding the actions of Rhett Bullard because of the Rudd Act. The Rudd Act does not allow state agencies to become involved in the management of the Municipalities or Counties. It is up to each Board, or in our case the Town Council to handle its internal problems. But all we heard from Bullard and later Lofton was how we were the big losers and that they could escape any of their actions and that was highly accurate. After all, other council members would not chastise the actions of council members, except of course, the inactions of Helen B. Miller at the time. They did not like her because she objected to some of the illicit actions and spending of the councilors at large. So they had to remove her.
For years Joe kept saying that if the Council allows certain events to happen, which were not allowed under the Charter or the ordinances (i.e. condemned buildings which remained for 16 years until Scott Gay purchased the properties and removed those buildings), that a precedence was set and therefore no one needed to heed those ordinances nor the Charter. Yet none of the councilors listened because it is one of two Griffins that is continually telling the Council they are not following their own laws. But yet it happened. The Commission on Ethics solidified Joe Griffin’s claims and legally, they were correct in making their decisions as difficult as it was for us to absorb. But who was at fault? It surely was not the Griffins who were at fault, but now, Joe Griffin’s comments are now confirmed by the Florida Commission on Ethics. So what does this mean?
In part, Pam Tomlinson met with the Inspector for the Commission and although there may have been lies, because she has always been good at fabricating stories, some of which can be very hurtful. But if she is nasty to those the councilors do not like, then they have allowed Pam Tomlinson to be as nasty as possible to those they dislike. Even initially, Anita Rivers had not been believed in by members of the council until they saw the light much later. But I promise I will continue on this matter.
You have heard Joe state, Corruption is “Special Strokes for Special Folks”. We heard many rumors about some people being able to pay portions of their Utility bills while others were denied. Although the Council does not realize this, but it set a precedence and even though it is not the written ordinance, our Council has allowed certain people to pay as they go while others were not given that opportunity. So technically, those that asked for those payments should not have been denied and had a right because of the precedence set to also receive installments.
Now the Fire SUV was a major complaint among many Citizens and firefighters. Why should the so-called assistant fire chief, who never showed up for any major fire have been allowed to have a Town Fire vehicle to go back and forth from Lake City and to visit his father in White Springs and his Parents-in Law in Tampa? Others had to use their own vehicles but even when a complaint was made by the firefighters themselves in a form of a Letter of No Confidence about the performance or non-performance of Andrew Greene and his spouse, all Walter McKenzie did was chastise the fire department for bringing the letter forth in front of the public forum. Well after our firefighters were lost, the situation worsened. We did not have a fire department for two years but we did have a fake roster. Thank God we had the Genoa Fire Department to assist White Springs at the time. It took long enough but we finally have a Great Fire Department back again, no thanks to those councilors who did nothing and did not even believe the information we received from Hamilton County regarding the no shows of the White Springs Fire Department, which was sent to each councilor and then placed on the blog. It was not until the same paperwork was secured by Tom Brazil that they decided to review it but they could have done so a long time prior. We do however thank Councilman Tom Moore who brought up the information at meetings.
People wonder why I especially pick on Walter McKenzie. McKenzie is the longest standing council member besides Tonja Brown. And, even though both of these individuals should have enough experience, both have done nothing but make wrong decisions. Yes the Commission on Ethics said that even though there was something written which was not followed, it did not mean that Stacy Tebo or Rhett Bullard were at fault and there was no probable cause. That is because Ms. Tomlinson indicated it has been the PRACTICE OF WHITE SPRINGS to allow employees to take vehicles home and to use them for personal use. Now before one can call Tomlinson a liar on this situation, let’s look back at the council when Chief of Police Rodriquenz lived in Jacksonville. She was allowed to take the expensive police car back and forth to work and used the vehicle for personal use. She said she paid a portion of the fuel for her personal use but no one knows for sure how that would have been calculated.
Yes, Councilors, you were at fault. You could have stopped Chief Rodriquenz from utilizing the Town Police Car, saving much wear and tear and expense, but you did not. And you all were aware of this situation because Joe kept complaining. Do you know, that if any employee uses a state vehicle for personal use, their employment can be terminated? Well White Springs are the big shots, because if we have to replace a vehicle, the citizens can pay. Right?
So when the commission said Rhett Bullard could not be involved and that it was up to the Town Manager, but Pam Tomlinson stated vehicles are allowed to be taken to the employees home, well it was not a lie. And with all the complaints about the Fire SUV, not one of you councilors, knowing that the Employee, Andrew Greene was not only allowed to use the Fire SUV, but that he received additional pay as the Assistant Fire Chief and was given fuel and maintenance as a bonus, complained. And the Commission based upon our Council’s decisions as a result had to stipulate there was “No Probable Cause” for Rhett Bullard or Stacy Tebo. And whose fault is that? Look in the Mirror.
What is really a problem is the $300 deposit which is not a deposit because it is never returned for connecting Sewer and Water to a residence. Our ordinance states that one must pay the $300 if you are a new owner or a new renter essentially and the only exception is that if you have paid the connection fees at one residence but purchased another residence, that fee can move with you.
Here we have our former Mayor and an attorney, who I am certain can read who did not have to pay the $300 deposit when he purchased his home from the Methodist Church. The Commission reiterated my complaint stating that years ago the Church paid $5.00 for the Sewer/water connection but TRANSFERRED their Water/Sewer Rights to Rhett Bullard who had been renting the dwelling prior to Bullard purchasing it from the Church. But when our Finance Director was asked by the Inspector, under oath I may add, she said that the Town has provided that same benefit to others. Now we know that most of the rentals in White Springs must connect their own sewer water utilities and the owners do not pay for such said sewer/water utilities. I have only known of two houses, one that Mountain Man once rented and the house Rhett Bullard rented and ultimately purchased. So it did not matter to the Commission that White Springs had an ordinance stipulating this was not written therein, the fact is that others have received this same benefit so therefore, there was no probable cause against Rhett Bullard.
Oh, and I may add, this is the type of thing that manifests Public Record Requests, Mr. Brazil. One should know how many other people received this benefit, and in this case, I would venture to guess not very many and very likely only Rhett Bullard received this benefit but Ms. Tomlinson lied. But wouldn’t you all like to know? I think the Council should know but many times, these are the types of things they ignore and I know Mr. McKenzie must have known because he and Rhett Bullard are neighbors and it was stated as a complaint, but nothing was done. And of course Tonja Brown is Rhett Bullard’s friend so she would do nothing to hurt him and probably doesn’t even understand the problem that someone received a special favor.
And what about the Kenny Hutcherson situation whereby after the weeks stipulated in our personnel manual as well as the Family Medical Leave Act, Mr. Hutcherson should have applied for Medicare Disability and Social Security? No, instead, the Town paid Mr. Hutcherson for almost two years, stating it was leave, which is not allowed in our personnel manual or FMLA rules. Of course our charter also states this information but contends the Supervisor, which would be the Town Manager, could extend the time. But why would Stacy Tebo do so? Did Rhett Bullard ask her to do so? No, I believe this was a decision by Pam Tomlinson. After all, the Council during the time Kennon was the Attorney and Townsend the Town Manager gave Mr. Hutcherson a lump sum of almost $28,000 for his so called leave which was not given to others. Furthermore, for the almost two years, he was paid additional leave that he supposedly had. Even with leave there are only so many days a year one can take such leave in a given year, but no, all Councilors had a copy of the “Accounts Payable” for the month and surely the payroll for all employees was shown, but no, none commented on it. We made a complaint to the Commission on Ethics but it came back because they cannot be involved in Management practices. Now we not only have set a precedence of not following the Charter, the Laws of the State and the US, but also, we do not have to follow the personnel manual nor ordinances.
Now because of these wonderful councilors who have done nothing regarding your interests, we have been short money but have spent such money on only special people. Now any and all employees can request a Town vehicle to take to and from work, including fuel and maintenance; and if they are ill with a critical or chronic disease, they can be paid for months and months on end, without a problem. Our White Springs Town Council has set precedence by allowing some employees to take advantage. And when I questioned Pam Tomlinson about paying Kenny Hutcherson for so long, her comment to me is “He should be paid because he is ill and has worked here a long time”. There was no consideration by Pam that she had to watch the coffers of the Town because she was the so called financial director, but instead, she worried about her work companions who she liked…some like Anita Rivers she treated like dirt…but those she liked she would do anything for. In fact at one time when Andrew Greene was engaged to be married, Ms. Tomlinson felt Greene should have a new pickup truck and she even had him choose the options he wanted, until Helen Miller placed a Kibosh on the matter. There was no truck until Rhett Bullard’s last year as mayor. So one wonders, since Stacy Tebo had no interest in White Springs and frankly didn’t like working here, even after six months after her inception, why would she do these favors? It had to be Pam Tomlinson who chose to do much of these things to spend the Citizen’s money. And the Council Members, other than Miller did nothing to stop this.
That is why I state; you don’t have to follow ordinances and employees if you need additional time off because you are sick, take all the time you want because the Town has to pay you. And if you need a vehicle to drive, all you have to do is tell your Town Manager you need a truck or a car to take to and from work. It cannot be denied. The only thing that can no longer be done is Tonja Brown telling employees what to do. Ms. Brown is very lucky that John Davis didn’t care one way or another.