War of words in City Hall: Other Commissioners react to Matlow's negative review of City Manager

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By: Monica Casey | WCTV Eyewitness News
October 22, 2019

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- A war of words in City Hall continued on Tuesday after City Commissioner Jeremy Matlow posted a scathing performance review of City Manager Reese Goad on Twitter.

There has been major pushback on the manner in which Matlow distributed that performance review.

"My review was very critical of the City Manager, I felt the public needed to know that, so I just released it for everybody to read so they all knew how I felt about the situation," said Matlow.

Mayor John Dailey disagreed with that method.

"As elected officials, I think we are held to a higher standard on what we say, and how we say it, and I definitely would have handled
things differently," said Dailey.

City Commissioner Elaine Bryant, who has an extensive background in Human Resources, also said she believes it should have been handled in a conversation, during a phone call with WCTV on Tuesday.

On Twitter, some responses to Matlow are positive, thanking him for "cleaning up City Hall." Others have denounced his method of disseminating the review.

"Those that I have spoke with are outraged at the way this has gone down. This is not the way we conduct business in Tallahassee, especially personnel issues," said Mayor Dailey.

Matlow's allegations against Goad stem from former corruption in City Hall, including free FSU football tickets, and lawsuits alleging discrimination.

"If you look at all the information in its totality, from football tickets to lawsuits, it's really just, restoring the public's trust," said Matlow. "How do we get there?"

Matlow takes issue with the fact that Goad was appointed by the former City Commission, a group that included Scott Maddox.

"We look at how we got where we are now, and that's with four commissioners who aren't here anymore, picking the City Manager two months before an election," said Matlow.

In an interview with WCTV on Tuesday night, just moments after learning of Matlow's tweets, Reese Goad pushed back against Matlow's claim that his leadership style is "opaque."

"Anybody that has listened to me, and know that it's open, and that we in fact, encourage feedback," said Goad.

Goad said he was surprised by Matlow's claims; Mayor Dailey said he was "shocked."

"I of course look forward to the opportunity to sit down and talk through the issues, and address any concerns he might have," said Goad.

In addition, Goad said he is proud of what he and his staff have accomplished in the last year.

"I look forward to the opportunity to sit down and talk through the issues, and address any concerns he might have," said Goad.

Matlow said he and Goad had a meeting set up for Tuesday afternoon. Matlow told WCTV he does not feel as though information coming to the City Commission from Reese Goad is coming from a trustworthy position.

Matlow gave Goad a score of 1.4 on his performance evaluation.

Mayor Dailey, Mayor Pro Tem Curtis Richardson, and City Commissioner Elaine Bryant all gave Goad a score of 5; City Commissioner Dianne Williams-Cox gave him a score of 4.3

In a statement to WCTV, Commissioner Williams-Cox wrote, "I enjoy working with him and his staff moving our City forward. We have made progress and I look forward to continuing to make progress by addressing items defined by our priorities."

Mayor Dailey listed major accomplishments by the City in the last year, "none of which would have been possible without Reese Goad."

"I give our City Manager Reese Goad credit for leading us in the right direction, and I stand behind him 100%," said Mayor Dailey.

Commissioner Richardson did not respond to request for comment, but Commissioner Bryant said she looks forward to the next public meeting, during which she hopes to learn more about Matlow's feelings.

Matlow said it would take three votes to remove Goad from his position; he said he would respect his fellow Commissioners' decision.

"The City is demanding that we restore public trust, and to do that, I think we need new leadership," said Matlow.

Background on Goad's Tenure
Goad was appointed as the City Manager in September of 2018, but was the Interim City Manager for eight months before that, while also acting as the Deputy City Manager

He was chosen in a 4 to 1 vote, with former City Commissioner Gil Ziffer voting for a different candidate.

Former City Commissioners cited Goad's loyalty to the City in "turbulent times."

Ziffer told WCTV last year he thought it was the right time for the City to bring in outside leadership, but was ultimately voted down by other commissioners.

Although that single City Commissioner voted for a different candidate in the interview process, Goad's contract was approved unanimously by the Commission a few days later.

According to his contract, Goad's employment term is five years, with the contract automatically renewing in two-year increments.

Goad was hired after former City Manager Rick Fernandez was ousted in a scandal involving tickets from Adam Corey, a local lobbyist. Matlow makes reference to that incident in his statement.

Additional Statements
Leon County Republican Party Chairman Evan Power also released a statement to WCTV, agreeing with Matlow's stance.

It reads, in full:

"Last Year I stood in front of City Hall and questioned the wisdom of an outgoing commission, under a cloud of corruption, should be hiring a City Manager for the new Commission. I still have those concerns. Yesterday Jeremy Matlow articulated some of the same issues I have with the current City Manager. Commissioner Matlow and I do not always agree on the best way to move Tallahassee forward. In this, we are united. We should have a new Nationwide search for a City Manager. In my view, the only way to finally lift the cloud of corruption from City hall is by bringing in a new manager from outside of the City of Tallahassee government. The last City Commission got it predictably wrong, but this Commission has the opportunity to right that wrong. I hope they seize the opportunity."



 
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