By: Mariel Carbone
January 3, 2017
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV)-- The Tallahassee City Commission has officially accepted the resignation of City Manager Rick Fernandez. His decision to leave comes amid an ethics investigation by the state.
According to the resignation agreement, Fernandez will receive a severance package of $94,000, which includes 18 weeks of salary, as well as his accrued sick time and personal time. He is also entitled to all retirement benefits under the City Retirement System.
Although some criticized this dollar amount, the commission stood by its decision.
"You can't even put a price tag on what it would've meant for the turmoil of the government, the continued cloud, that could've had the impact of inhibiting really good work from taking place. I do think it was important that we got this resolved," said Mayor Andrew Gillum.
"We're moving forward. We've made the decision to separate from Mr. Fernandez. That chapter in the city's history is over," said Commissioner Gil Ziffer.
Still, some residents spoke out publicly against the agreement, including Erwin Jackson, who is the one who filed the ethics complaint with the Florida Commission on Ethics .
"His punishment perceived by this body is to receive a check... Wow. He has a lot of information on each of you," said Jackson.
Others criticized the entire ethics saga of Fernandez.
"Not pursing punitive action and further investigation of this abuse of office, is shameful," said Greg Marr Jr., a radio personality who works in Tallahassee.
"The course of action this commission has chose, was to give that manager a $20,000 paid vacation," said Joe West, who is running for Mayor.
Fernandez was on paid administrative leave since November 8 following an ethics investigation by the Florida Commission on Ethics. He was accused of accepting football tickets to a Florida State University football game and receiving a $5,000 catering discount from the city-backed restaurant, The Edison.
Now that his resignation is final, it is time for the commission to find a new city manager.
In the mean time, they discussed the possibility of having former city manager Anita Favors or Dan Kleman step in as Interim City Manager. However, it was decided that Deputy City Manager Reese Goad will continue serving in that capacity until further notice.
The commission will discuss how it plans to move forward with the hiring process at next week's commission retreat.
"There's a way to really make this, I think, a model process for how we advertise, and in my opinion select, the most important position within the city government. That is the head of the government," said Gillum.
The annual retreat will be held on January 10 at the Tallahassee International Airport. It begins at 9 a.m.
By: Mariel Carbone | WCTV Eyewitness News
January 2, 2018
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV)—The City Attorney and City Manager have negotiated a resignation agreement.
Pending approval by the city commission on Wednesday, City Manager Rick Fernandez will resign on January 3.
Fernandez has been on paid administrative leave since November 8 following an ethics investigation by the Florida Commission on Ethics. He was accused of accepting football tickets to a Florida State University football game and receiving a $5,000 catering discount from the city-backed restaurant, The Edison.
In a letter dated to the commission on January 2, Fernandez highlighted some of the accomplishments the city has made under his leadership including the completion of the city’s solar farm, restructuring the city to meet budget constraints and the establishment of the TEMPO program.
However, he stressed there is still more work to be done.
In his resignation letter he wrote, “With so much still to do, it is with mixed emotions that I am writing to notify you of my decision… I will not allow myself to be a distraction to the great work of the City.”
According to the agreement, Fernandez will receive a severance package of $94,000, which includes 18 weeks of salary, as well as his accrued sick time and personal time. He is also entitled to all retirement benefits under the City Retirement System.
The commission will meet for a special meeting at 1 p.m. on Wednesday.
To view Fernandez's resignation letter in full, click the attachment at the top right of the story.