This is the Second Ethics complaint being investigated by the Commission on Ethics.
March 8, 2018
Mr. Gray Schafer, Senior Attorney
State of Florida
COMMISSION ON ETHICS
P. O. Drawer 15709
Tallahassee Florida 32317-5709
“Lawyers holding public office assume legal responsibilities going beyond those of other citizens. A lawyer’s abuse of public office can suggest an inability to fulfill the professional role of attorney.” COMMENT SECTION Rule 4-8.4 SO MUCH FOR JOHN RHETT JOINER BULLARD, ESQUIRE AND MAYOR OF WHITE SPRINGS, who does not believe he has to follow the laws or the Town Charter except when it benefits him or his protected staff members.
Since it always has been difficult to determine which came first, the chicken or the egg, this same ethics violation statement shall be included with complaint 18-015 with regard to RHETT BULLARD with a new ethics violation complaint against TOWN CLERK/FINANCE DIRECTOR of WHITE SPRINGS, PAM TOMLINSON.
I previously indicated in Complaint 18-015 that Rhett Bullard did not follow an ordinance in which he was required to remit a deposit of $300.00 to the Town of White Springs, but he did not do so.
At the October 13, 2015 Town Council Meeting, the White Springs Town Council voted unanimously to approve Ordinance 15-01. The ordinance was signed by Mayor Rhett Bullard and Pam Tomlinson.
“After the effective date of this Ordinance, no new water accounts shall be opened, nor Municipal water be made available to any person seeking to have Municipal water turned on to his premises until said person or entity shall first deposit against future billings the sum of $300.00 if water is to be turned on in the territorial boundaries of the Town of White Springs and the sum of $300.00 if water is to be turned on outside of the territorial boundaries of the Town of White Springs….”
Section 22, Penalties States” Any person, firm or corporation violating any of the provisions of this ordinance shall, upon conviction thereof, for each offense, be subject to a fine not to exceed five hundred dollars ($500.00) or imprisonment for not to exceed sixty (60) days, or by both such fine and imprisonment in the discretion of the appropriate Court of competent jurisdiction so, as herein above provided, or any failure or refusal to pay the charge or rates herein above provided, shall be construed to be a violation of this Ordinance.”
The exception is under Section 2, Connections with Sewer Required E: “Beginning with the effective date of this Ordinance, any person or entity who transfers to a different location within the Town of White Springs, Florida shall pay a transfer fee of $20.00 together with any other applicable fees or charges.”
SEE ADDENDUM 1A and ADDENDUM 1B
On November 28,2016, John Rhett Joiner Bullard, esq. purchased a single family dwelling at 16659 Springs Street, in White Springs Florida for $65,000. This dwelling was owned by the White Springs United Methodist Church and Mayor Bullard previously had been renting the dwelling/old parsonage from the church. This transaction was not a transfer to a different location in Town, but rather Mayor Bullard purchased the dwelling/parsonage which he had previously been renting from the White Springs United Methodist Church.
On November 17, 2016, in preparation of the pending sale/purchase of the single family dwelling at 16659 Spring Street and in willful violation of Ordinance 15-01, Section 5, Article D., Town Clerk/Finance Director Pam Tomlinson, at the request of Mayor Bullard “transferred” the “deposit” of the White Springs United Methodist Church, in the amount of $5.00, to Mayor Bullard so Mayor Bullard did not have to pay the $300.00 deposit to start a new customer account in his name.
At the request of Mayor Bullard, Pam Tomlinson contacted Carolyn Cannon, financial representative of the United Methodist Church, to transfer the deposit so that Mayor Bullard did not have to pay the “first deposit against future billings in the sum of $300.00”. The “account” during the dwelling being rented to Mayor Bullard was in the name of “United Methodist Church”. Mayor Bullard did not have a sewer/water account in his name previous to his purchasing the home at 16659 Springs Street in November of 2016.
The White Springs Methodist Church, prior to Mayor Bullard’s purchase of the residence at 16659 Springs street, made monthly water/sewer payments to the Town of White Springs for water usage at 16659 Spring Street. SEE ADDENDUM 2 A and 2 B.
Both Mayor Bullard and Town Clerk/Finance Director Tomlinson were well-aware of the required $300.00 utility deposit for new accounts. Mayor Bullard misused his public office by requesting that Town Clerk Tomlinson forgo the collection of the $300.00 deposit. And Town Clerk, Pam Tomlinson did not perform her charter duty and misused her public office by not collecting the $300.00 required deposit. Instead Mayor Bullard and Ms.Tomlinson colluded in the willful violation of Ordinance 15-01.
Pam Tomlinson also contacted Carolyn Cannon, financial representative of the United Methodist Church to transfer the $5.00 deposit into Rhett’s name so that he did not have to pay the current $300.00 deposit per Ordinance 15-01. Yet the fact that Mayor Bullard required Ms. Tomlinson to handle his personal affairs is against the rules of the White Springs Town Charter.
Conversely, Mayor Bullard and two councilors ascertained that Dr. Helen Miller forfeit her council seat because she asked forassistance regarding Town business and stated she interfered by asking for assistance. It was not personal business Dr. Helen Miller was charged with but transactions relating to contracts or a position she was appointed to by the Town of White Springs.
Therefore there are two standards, one for Mayor Bullard and one for the councilors he does not like and wished removed from office.
In summary Mayor Bullard and Finance Director/Town Clerk Tomlinson provided misleading rationale by obtaining the permission of Carolyn Cannon, representative of the White Springs United Methodist Church, to transfer the church’s long-standing deposit of $5.00 to Rhett Bullard in violation of Ordinance 15-01. This entails misuse of Public office on the part of Pam Tomlinson by providing a $300.00 benefit to another person (i.e. Mayor Bullard) and by Mayor Bullard requesting Ms. Tomlinson bend the rules to provide him a personal benefit not provided to others, because of his position as mayor.
Furthermore Ms. Tomlinson complained about Dr. Miller asking for a check which was required by a contract the Town had entered into and as a result Dr. Miller’s seat was forfeited. Yet, Pam Tomlinson assisted Mayor Bullard in personal business which was actual interference from Town Business which should be accomplished by her except for fear of losing her job if she did not perform as Mayor Bullard required.
During an annual audit of individual utility customer deposits and billings/payments conducted by the Town’s auditor on or about February-March 2017, Town Manager Stacy Tebo became aware of the Bullard/Tomlinson willful violation of Ordinance 15-01. Rather than tell her staff member Pam Tomlinson to enforce 15-01, and if she did not, she would be reprimanded, Ms. Tebo covered up the violation to allow benefit to Mayor Bullard.
Below listed are the payments made by White Springs United Methodist church (WSUMC) and Rhett Bullard for the period from 10/10/2016 to July 2017: You will note starting in December Rhett Bullard, as owner was responsible for the utility payments to the Town of White Springs since he had purchased the parsonage.
The aforementioned serves as evidence that the deposit of $300.00 has not been paid to the Town of White Springs by Rhett Bullard for the dwelling/parsonage located at 16659 Springs Street, White Springs, FL which Mayor Bullard purchased.
This is not the first violation by Pam Tomlinson and unfortunately, in some instances there is no hard evidence except for what other witnesses have seen and for which an affidavit may be secured, should such be required.
Pam Tomlinson per the White Springs Town Charter and as Town Clerk for White Springs is required to arrange and handle elections for the Town of White Springs in an ethical manner. However, since early voting has been allowed, Ms. Tomlinson has been seen taking the ballot box home with her after leaving Town Hall at 5:00 pm, the day prior to election. This was witnessed in 2015. Instead of the box being left locked at Town Hall until the following morning of election, Ms. Tomlinson took the box with her to her vehicle.
Another employee who has since been terminated for no cause, followed Ms. Tomlinson. Since the former employee lives in the general vicinity that Ms. Tomlinson lives in, she realized that Ms. Tomlinson would not be placing the box at the voting station in the opposite direction but rather taking it to the Tomlinson home so that she could view the early voting ballots privately.
Ms. Tomlinson has also violating election procedure and law by allowing Mayor Bullard to access how voters cast their vote in the 2017 elections.
A former Town employee has a screen shot of Shirley Aldridge’s facebook comments about being chided about how she voted. Voting information should be private. However, those in the town protect each other and wish only certain individuals of Rhett Bullard’s choosing to remain as council members.
Richard Marshall wished to run in the 2017 election and he provided fifteen good signatures and one which did not qualify. When asked, Pam Tomlinson said that Richard Marshall didn’t qualify for the town election because he only turned in 14 signature pages, call affidavits. This was a new form the Town had designed.
Per a Public Records request, Joe Griffin received the Affidavits under a Florida Statue 119 request, 16 of them. He also procured the list of qualified voters for the Town from Laura Hutto, the Supervisor of Elections.15 of Marshall’s 16 affidavits were from registered voters. One of the 15 did not have a date on it, the date signed. Lack of a date on a petition/affidavit is not, REPEAT NOT, a disqualifying event per Florida Law. It is discretionary.
Mr. Marshall should have been included on the 2017 ballot but Pam Tomlinson had to assure that Rhett Bullard and Tonja Brown were re-elected and one less running for office would obviously cinch that. 2017 was the first year we are using affidavits for council member qualification. Do you think Ms. Retha Cooks voided her affidavit knowingly by not putting the date on it?
Ms. Cooks says it was a mistake to leave out the date where she signed the affidavit, She also said that no one, NO ONE, from town hall called her to rectify the mistake even unto this very day. I guess Pam Tomlinson and the rest of the political elite have never left anything out of a public document. No steps were taken to notify Richard Marshall that a date was missing from one of his qualifying affidavits. As the law says Pam Tomlinson was required to provide a “good faith effort” to seek to rectify this oversight by Ms.Retha Cooks.
This is a recent article about Rhett Bullard at our February Meeting:
White Springs council members accused of threats, bribery
WHITE SPRINGS — Members of the White Springs Town Council have been accused of threats and bribery, according to at least one town resident.
At the council’s Feb. 13 meeting, Nicole Williams addressed the council about intimidation from three of the council members and accusations made against her from those members.
“Instead I want to speak about the intimidation about those who wanted to sign the petition, but felt that they would be harassed by the members of the council this concerns,” Williams said about a recall petition circulating through town in regards to Mayor Rhett Bullard, Vice Mayor Tonja Brown and councilman Willie Jefferson.
Williams stated that she did not believe the threatening and bribery at first until she had a conversation with Bullard over the phone. She said he tried to bribe and threaten her. She said if the members of the council try to contact those who signed the petition they would be filing a lawsuit.
Bullard stated that he was trying to figure out a way to discuss the complaints with her that were being made. He did say the conversation got heated at points, but did not try to bribe her or intimidate her.
“I can say for a fact that I had nothing to do with any kind of bribery or intimidation of citizens,” Bullard said in phone call with the News.
Both Karin and Joe Griffin spoke about how there is injustice in White Springs and how it should be fixed.
Joe Griffin even brought a shovel for three of the members “to help with their digging a hole for themselves that they are already in.”
Toby Witt, EMS Director, presented the plans for an EMT station in White Springs at the meeting, saying that it would begin in March.
“The county already approved us moving members of our staff down here for a 10-hour day Monday through Friday and 10 hours for Saturday and Sunday with two EMT’s staffed,” Witt said.
While the station would begin covering in March, Witt said it would not be 100 percent trained and running until April because they still need to hire and train more people.
End of Article
Our Chief of Police Tracy Rodriquenz, who has chosen to commit perjury rather than lose her job, actually told former Council Member and Mayor Dr. Miller that Rhett Bullard has paid people to vote for him and councilor Tonja Brown since they run on Odd years. It is rumored and some say they have information on the juveniles involved that Ms. Rodriquenz saw evidence of sexual misconduct on a computer owned by Mayor Bullard, once the stolen computer was found. But, instead of reporting it to law enforcement, Ms. Rodriquenz gave the computer back to Mayor Bullard and saved her job as a result.
The Bullard family has always felt that they are above the law but the fact that Rhett Bullard seems to have exceeded his family’s corruption practices to the detriment of the citizens of White Springs is beyond the pale.
As background as to why Pam Tomlinson and Rhett Bullard have worked so hard in their attempt to first remove Dr. Miller as Mayor and then to remove her as a councilor with fictitious charges, I am providing the following information.
Robert C. Townsend, a cousin of Rhett Bullard, was the Town Manager for over some ten years. He was beloved by Pam Tomlinson, Andrew Greene and former Town Clerk Shirley Heath. Pam Tomlinson did not have the education nor has she been an efficient and concise accountant. Rather Mr. Townsend covered up his staff’s inabilities, requiring our CPA to do the same, and in turn, the staff covered up some very serious allegations against Mr. Townsend.
Prior to Robert Townsend being hired as the Town Manager, Joe Griffin and another citizen of White Springs Robert Dezendorf, prior councilor, provided the Council Members and the Town with Townsend’s background information. Two applications were completed within a week of each other whereby Robert C. Townsend applied for positions with the Department of Corrections and to the Town of White Springs respectively. In the first, Townsend admitted an alleged child molestation case when he was a deputy sheriff. In the second application to the Town of White Springs there was no mention of the case.
Thomas J. Kennon III, Esquire had defended Robert Townsend in an alleged child molestation case when Townsend was a deputy sheriff. With Judge Kennon as one of the Senior Circuit Court Judges, Robert Townsend’s case was dropped in spite of his being found guilty for child molestation in Clay County. This case had been reported by the Lake City Reporter including the fact that Townsend was required by the courts to enter rehabilitation for a period of two years.
Townsend who then reportedly owed the Kennon Law Firm some $8000 for his defense was forced to file bankruptcy. In spite of his previous record which did not exist to the Town of White Springs nor did the Council wish to hear of his past record, Townsend was appointed as the City Manager. Thomas J. Kennon III, Esquire, then became the attorney for the Town of White Springs.
Mr. Townsend was not only the Town Manager but also the Water Sewer Operator for the Town of White Springs. He was under investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) for sexual misconduct/attempted rape of a Hamilton Correctional Institution inmate at the Town’s sewer plant. Other inmates or former inmates also complained and refused to work at the White Springs plant.
When the new Town Manager was hired, Robert Farley, Andrew Greene took over the sewer plant duties. Mr. Greene was also given advantages others are not given by reason that both he and Pam Tomlinson retain the secrets of the Town. Andrew Greene had advised Robert Farley that he noticed a ceiling tile was out of place in the sewer plant office and when he re-aligned the tile he found Townsend’s homosexual sex paraphernalia, which he destroyed. Greene had full knowledge that law enforcement was seeking evidence of the crime but he removed the evidence and destroyed it so that Mr. Townsend would never be charged. It was Mr. Townsend’s word against that of inmates.
Pam Tomlinson has been the Finance Director for several years until Shirley Heath retired in January of 2014 and then Ms. Tomlinson also became the Town Clerk. In the charter, the Town Clerk is to be a separate position but Ms. Tomlinson handles both, poorly. Both were upset that Robert Townsend was requested to provide his resignation and they blamed Dr. Helen Miller. They did not care what Robert Townsend did at the sewer plant.
Our Town Charter states: “There shall be an office of the Town Clerk WHO SHALL SERVE ON A FULL TIME BASIS” Although the Charter requires a separate person to handle the Town Clerk position and a separate person to be finance director, Rhett Bullard has allowed Pam Tomlinson to handle both positions since Ms. Tomlinson has protected those Mayor Bullard wishes protected.
“The powers and duties of the Town Clerk shall be:
To give notice of Council meetings to its members and the public;
To attend all Council meetings and keep electronic recordings and minutes of the proceedings which shall be public record; (It doesn’t say that the clerk can shut of the recorder when the Council wishes secrecy)
To be the Custodian of all records, documents and papers of the Town
To be the Custodian of the official seal of the Town and be authorized to affix the seal to such instruments of writing as is necessary
To attest all documents, contracts and agreements to which the Town is a party as required by law
To administer oaths as necessary
To arrange for and supervise all Town elections;
To prepare the agenda for all Town Council Meetings
To keep properly indexed books of all ordinances and resolutions passed by the Town Council. The Clerk shall also keep the Town Charter updated and enter all the Charter amendments
T be responsible for the records retention program in accordance with State law;
To keep an accurate account of all moneys due to the Town, all receipts and disbursements of the Town, all assets and liabilities and all appropriations made by the Town Council;, furnish the Town manager at any time such report, data and information as may be necessary to fully inform the Town Council as to the financial affairs of the Town. Keep regular books of account in which shall be entered all indebtedness of the Town and which shall at all times show the financial condition of the Town;
Be responsible for the supervision of all personnel of the Town Clerk and Accounting Department.
Be responsible for recommending to the Town Manager for approval by the Town Council, the establishment of additional full time departments within the Town Clerk’s office to accommodate administrative and/or accounting overload caused by growth, expansion and/or increased State and Federal reporting requirements;
To perform such other duties as may be required by the TownManager, Mayor and Town Council as well as other duties required by ordinances of the Town of White Springs and the laws of the State of Florida.” (In other words, Dr. Helen Miller had the right to ask Ms. Tomlinson for a check to pay an employee volunteer under contract with the Town.)
Why should Pam Tomlinson assist Rhett Bullard in a personal matter regarding his not having to pay his utility deposit as required by 15-01 when he purchased his first residence?
Why should Pam Tomlinson help Rhett Bullard and Stacy Tebo, Town Manager to do at least two weeks of research and make fictitious charges to remove Helen Miller from her council seat?
Why does Pam Tomlinson allegedly cheat on voter ballots to ascertain those who Rhett prefers as councilors are elected?
Even though Pam Tomlinson makes multiple mistakes in Finance, she is retained while other efficient staff members are let go or terminated:
When Pam was requested to explain the fiasco regarding the $92,000 check to Hamilton county excuses were made about the former manager previously and now it is Powell and Jones the CPA who caused this mistake.
No one can admit they erred at town hall and Pam Tomlinson is no different. Ms Tomlinson received an invoice from Hamilton County showing the breakdown of what was performed at the Jewett Street Location in fixing the roadway. Ms. Tomlinson ignored the invoice which was provided after the work was done. Two years later, it became an issue and Hamilton County needed the payment. Instead of placing the moneys received on line items and deducting the amount by paying Hamilton County, she ignored it believing the job was done by the County for free. That is what she stated. Let’s face it, I am certain her quick books would have had an application for a different line item showing the amount received from the State and from FEMA . Yet everyone is making all kinds of excuses and that is ridiculous. The checks received totaling 92K should have been held payable to Hamilton County and not spent by the General fund so they had to take $55K from the Enterprise Account (Sewer & Water account)..
The Finance Director Position requires one with at least a Bachelor’s degree and we have not received record that Ms. Tomlinson even has her GED but she was a friend of former Town Clerk Shirley Heath.
These is just some of the willful errors made and there have been many more which has been covered up by staff members, Rhett Bullard and others, including prior CPA’s.