At one time a complaint Regarding a Lack of Compliance, Abuse and Fraud by the Town of White Springs Florida for the USDA-RD Grant for Fire Department Emergency Quick Response Vehicle was sent to Acting State Director Joseph M. Mueller on 10 December 2017.
The Complaint read:
“Please consider, investigate and take action on this written notice and complaint regarding lack of compliance in operational and management practices underway by the Town of White Springs, specifically the Town Manager Stacy Tebo, Town Clerk/Finance Director Pam Tomlinson and the corrupt majority of the Town Council, Mayor Rhett Bullard, Vice Mayor Tonja Brown and Councilman Willie Jefferson.
Earlier this year, the Town of White Springs – Volunteer Fire Department applied to USDA-RD for a grant to purchase two (2) emergency quick response vehicles. These vehicles have been delivered to White Springs. One vehicle is being used properly by the Fire Department Chief Kevin Pittman, who is credited with recruiting volunteers, organizing the appropriate training for volunteers, establishing professional standards, creating cohesiveness and department morale and indeed leadership in all respects, especially responding to emergencies with proficiency.
The second emergency quick response vehicle was intended to be housed at the Fire Station in White Springs for immediate access and use by volunteers who respond to emergencies, but contrary to the intent stated at the Town Council meeting when the vote was taken to seek USDA-RD funds, this second emergency response vehicle is being used on a daily basis by town employee Andrew Greene on his job as water/sewer operator and public works. Mr. Greene is also driving this emergency response vehicle to his home in Lake City, where it remains at night rather than at the White Springs Fire Station. This vehicle was assigned to Mr. Greene by Town Manager Stacy Tebo with the approval of Mayor Rhett Bullard, over the objection of Chief Kevin Pittman. In retribution for Chief Pittman’s objection to the abuse of the USDA-RD financed emergency quick response vehicle, Town Manager Tebo has asked for Chief Pittman’s resignation. The information given to the Town Council, the Fire Department Volunteers and White Springs’ Citizens was that USDA-RD rules required that the emergency qick response vehicles were to be used for their intended purpose; that is, emergency response and not general purpose use by town staff. Citizens have photos (several are attached) of the emergency response-vehicle being used by Mr. Greene for his personal benefit away from White Springs. In fact, during a recent emergency call, Fire Department volunteers had to respond in a personal vehicle since Mr. Greene was using the emergency response vehicle.
For some inexplicable reason, securing a public vehicle for Mr. Greene’s public and private use has been a priority of some town staff and officials. In 2015, while I was on the town council, I received a phone call asking about the town’s EIN number; it was being requested by a car dealership. Mr. Greene was at the car dealership, in the process of purchasing a new pick-up truck and charging it to the Town of White Springs. I stated that the town council had not voted to purchase a new pick-up and that we would not provide the town’s EIN number to the dealership for that purpose. It was sheer happenstance that Mr. Greene went shopping at the Dealership when Town Clerk/Finance Director Pam Tomlinson was out of the office and I happened to be available to respond to the dealership request. Had Ms. Tomlinson been one to answer the phone at town hall, she would have indeed provided the town’s EIN number and the purchase would have proceeded without a vote of the town council. My belief is that Mayor Bullard was aware of the pending transaction based on mutual understanding with Ms. Tomlinson and Mr. Greene.
Illegal use of this second vehicle by Mr. Greene is an abuse, represents fraud and puts the citizens of White Springs in harm’s way, since the safety and protection which this second emergency vehicle should be providing 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, is now just an illusion. We do not want to wait until a tragedy occurs before this lack of compliance in operations and management practice is exposed. We request your intervention now before a tragedy occurs. A previous whistle blower, an employee at town hall, was fired this spring. We do not want Chief Pittman to be forced to resign or be fired because he is unwilling to go along with Tebo’s and Bullard’s fraud and abuse.
Thank you for your intervention and investigation. Our town deserves not to suffer now and in the future due to the illegal actions of a few – namely Tebo, Tomlinson, Bullard, Brown and Jefferson.
Helen B. Miller, Ph.D.
Since the USDA became concerned, especially after granting the two emergency vehicles, a letter was sent to Stacy Tebo for her to verify that the second emergency vehicle had been used for it’s proper use by the Fire Department. Of Course Ms. Tebo, stipulated to the USDA that the vehicle was used for its intended purpose.
However, prior to Mr. Greene having provided his notice of termination, Joe Griffin, likewise spoke to the acting Director and also expressed his concern about the continual use of the second emergency vehicle and about the fire engine that the USDA invited White Springs to apply for the grant. The director was extremely upset about the second emergency vehicle’s private usage by Greene. Yes, a new fire engine is needed but since Kevin Pittman is no longer the Chief we have no local certified firefighters locally and the Town has blotched this for themselves.
In the meantime, however, as you may have seen on the blog, the contract changes White Springs desired to the Fire Protection Agreement with Hamilton County, and the decision made by Hamilton County in the Jasper News, White Springs will not receive any funding which in accordance with the Town Council Meetings, Council woman Miller has apprised the council that without funds, there is no possibility of getting the grant from the USDA anyway.
I wish I would have had Helen Miller’s aforementioned letter when I sent my February 2017 multiple complaints to the Commission on Ethics. It is understood at this time, however, that an investigation is being made on my lengthy small type 27 page letter including portions of the deposition in the Anita Rivers Case as verification of the types of people who are making these decisions.
Karin for the blog