Tallahassee City Manager faces second ethics complaint

By: Mariel Carbone
August 23, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV)-- Tallahassee City Manager Rick Fernandez faces a second ethics complaint.

This, after local businessman Erwin Jackson filed the complaint Tuesday with the Florida Commission on Ethics.

"I have chosen to forward this ethics complaint which clearly explains and documents unethical and possible illegal activities in city hall," said Jackson, in an email forwarded to local media outlets.

The complaint comes after accusations that Fernandez received a nearly $5,000 discount from the city-backed restaurant, The Edison. The Edison was used to cater the City Manager's daughter's wedding in 2016.

In the complaint, Jackson writes:

"This complaint concerns a city manager that violated Florida's Code of Ethics in three ways: (1) He obtained a substantial discount on catering for his daughter's wedding reception from a company that was a city vendor and that was partly owned by city lobbyists; 2) the city manager provided an unadvertised city job to an employee of the caterer who helped him obtain the large discount; and 3) the city manager accepted free football tickets in a skybox owned by one of the city lobbyists that owned the catering business."

In an attachment, Jackson provided the invoice from the wedding reception. It shows $-4,761.39 for an "owner discount."

"To me, that's a clear conflict. He should've known. His daughter should've known. We can't be taking an owner's discount," said Jackson in an interview Wednesday.

Jackson said he'd also like see a stronger ethics ordinance in place in Tallahassee.

The City's ethics ordinance faced criticism earlier this year following an investigation by the State Attorney into Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum's use tax payer dollars for an email software system. Following a discussion about the same topic, the Independent Ethics Board decided it did not have the authority to investigate the matter. It's asked on several occasions to look into broadening its power.

"We need a new City Manager, a new City Attorney, We need a new city ordinance that's written by the ethics commission. And we need a new Independent Ethics officer who will work directly for and under the guidance of that ethics committee," he said.

The complaint comes about a week after a similar complaint was made to Tallahassee's Independent Ethics Commission. That complaint was made anonymously. The Independent Ethics Board discussed the complaint during a closed session. It ultimately decided to refer the complaint to the Florida Commission on Ethics.

Following this, a lawyer representing Fernandez filed a motion requesting that the Independent Ethics Board re-hear the complaint.

Attorney Steven Andrews sent a letter to Jerry Currington, of Ausley McMullen, which read in part:

“I am also concerned that apparently the City moved forward on this matter without contacting Brian Finnerty, anyone from the Edison or requested any documents associated with the actual contract signed between the Edison and Delia Fernandez Finnerty… It is my feeling that there are due process concerns regarding the Board’s failure to
allow testimony or the presentation of documents.”

Fernandez released a statement regarding the matter and said he welcomes the review.

“Having served as an auditor for many years, I understand and appreciate the concept of a third-party review. This process is
designed to provide clarification further ensuring public trust is upheld. I welcome the review and look forward to a positive outcome once all the facts have been fully vetted.”


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By: Mariel Carbone
August 22, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV)-- Tallahassee City Manager Rick Fernandez faces a second ethics complaint.

This, after local businessman Erwin Jackson filed the complaint with the Florida Commission on Ethics.

"I have chosen to forward this ethics complaint which clearly explains and documents unethical and possible illegal activities in city hall," said
Jackson, in an email forwarded to local media outlets.

The complaint comes after accusations that Fernandez received a nearly $5,000 discount from the city-backed restaurant, The Edison. The Edison was used to cater the City Manager's daughter's wedding in 2016.

In the complaint, Jackson writes:

"This complaint concerns a city manager that violated Florida's Code of Ethics in three ways: (1) He obtained a substantial discount on catering for his daughter's wedding reception from a company that was a city vendor and that was partly owned by city lobbyists; 2) the city manager provided an unadvertised city job to an employee of the caterer who helped him obtain the large discount; and 3) the city manager accepted free football tickets in a skybox owned by one of the city lobbyists that owned the catering business."

In an attachment, Jackson provided the invoice from the wedding reception. It shows $-4,761.39 for an "owner discount."

The complaint comes about a week after a similar complaint was made to Tallahassee's Independent Ethics Commission. That complaint
was made anonymously. The Independent Ethics Board discussed the complaint during a closed session. It ultimately decided to refer the complaint to the Florida Commission on Ethics.

Following this, a lawyer representing Fernandez filed a motion requesting that the Independent Ethics Board re-hear the complaint.

Attorney Steven Andrews sent a letter to Jerry Currington, of Ausley McMullen, which read in part:

“I am also concerned that apparently the City moved forward on this matter without contacting Brian Finnerty, anyone from the Edison or requested any documents associated with the actual contract signed between the Edison and Delia Fernandez Finnerty… It is my feeling that there are due process concerns regarding the Board’s failure to
allow testimony or the presentation of documents.”

At that time, Fernandez released the following statement:

“Having served as an auditor for many years, I understand and appreciate the concept of a third-party review. This process is
designed to provide clarification further ensuring public trust is upheld. I welcome the review and look forward to a positive outcome once all the facts have been fully vetted.”

WCTV has reached out to the City of Tallahassee. It is still waiting for a response.


By: Mariel Carbone | WCTV Eyewitness News
August 17, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Tallahassee City Manager Rick Fernandez is now facing an ethics complaint.

The City’s Independent Ethics Board took up an anonymous complaint at its meeting, Tuesday. The complaint accuses the City Manager of receiving a discount on catering services by the City-backed restaurant, The Edison. And, “hiring one of the vendor’s employees, as provided in or contemplated by the City Charter Amendment Section 2(V).”

This, after the City Manager’s daughter used the Edison to cater her wedding.

The Independent Ethics Board discussed the complaint during a closed session. It ultimately decided to refer the complaint to the Florida Commission on Ethics.

Following this, a lawyer representing Fernandez filed a motion requesting that the Independent Ethics Board re-hear the complaint.

Attorney Steven Andrews sent a letter to Jerry Currington, of Ausley McMullen, which read in part:

“I am also concerned that apparently the City moved forward on this matter without contacting Brian Finnerty, anyone from the Edison or requested any documents associated with the actual contract signed between the Edison and Delia Fernandez Finnerty… It is my feeling that there are due process concerns regarding the Board’s failure to allow testimony or the presentation of documents.”

Fernandez has released the following statement:

“Having served as an auditor for many years, I understand and appreciate the concept of a third-party review. This process is designed to provide clarification further ensuring public trust is upheld. I welcome the review and look forward to a positive outcome once all the facts have been fully vetted.”



 
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