Tavares, FL Wednesday, Jun 8, 2016
The opinions in this posting are by Vance Jochim and no other source.
Will the Eustis City Council select a clown, a relative or a competent person to fill a City Commission vacancy tomorrow, Thursday, June 9th, when they meet at 5:30 pm?
Send a link to this post to any Eustis resident you think would be interested.
Eustis, FL City Commissioner Bill Brett resigned recently and will the current City Commissioners cook the books to select another insider like they did last year?
We tell you all about it, explain tomorrow's Eustis City Council meeting, plus little known facts about the questionable past of one of last year's nominee's.
Maybe Eustis residents like insiders and relatives controlling the City, but they need to know what is going on because the local papers won't tell them this.
What will happen when applicants for Brett's position are interviewed and a "winner" is selected, led by Mayor Michael Holland? We think the process might be rigged like last time.
You can get the June 9 meeting agenda HERE which only lists the selection of the interim City Commissioner, then approval of a resolution to confirm their appointment.
If you go to this "Meeting Details" page you can find the applications of 9 hopeful candidates. (Kress Muenzmay withdrew). Read them and you will find some that have good qualifications. Others are pretty weak (like last year).
My Eustis-watch sources told me earlier that local Nan Cobb would be the next Holland annointed Commissioner, but she did not turn in an application even though she had picked up the forms.
Last year, on June 9, 2015, the same situation of a City Commissioner resigning cropped up when Linda Bob and Michael Holland verbally berated then Mayor Al Eckian and he resigned in frustration.
After watching the selection process, I noted that it was clearly political and not objective. They didn't have any comparison tables of applicant experience and skills either.
Then, even though there were some well qualified candidates, the City Council voted to appoint BE Thompson's wife, a cousin of Mayor Holland, to fill the vacant position. You can watch the video of that June 30, 2015 meeting where many qualified candidates gave presentations, and the weakest among them (to me) was BE Thompson's wife, Carla Gnann-Thompson, who was then railroaded into office by Holland. She rarely speaks at Commission meetings, unlike the known local leaders who were ignored in her favor. If you watch the video, you can see Mayor Holland nominate Robert Poole, but when Gnann-Thompson is discussed, Holland, without explaining his justification, and Holland supporters Bill Brett and Karen LeHeup-Smith all vote for Carla first, giving her the three votes resulting in a win, while Holland lamely voted for Poole later with one other person. So even though Holland nominated Poole, he voted for his cousin's poorly qualified wife first. Niccolo Machiavelli or Bobby Fischer would be proud. None of the Commissioners voting for Gnann-Thompson justified their positions or why she was qualified over the other more qualified (to me) candidates.
Another questionable candidate: However, one other questionable nominee was Nicie Alan Parks, who was allowed to resign from Lake County when she was found by a 2009 audit to be giving preferential treatment to relatives for housing grants as part of a County SHIP housing rehab program using Federal funds. There was a whole list of mis-management and cronyism practices disclosed in the audit report. There was even more in research documents prepared by local activist Lee Johnson. It was clear that there was no adult supervision over Park's management of the SHIP program. A Parks supporter points out Parks was not convicted of anything, which is true. It was clear to me, after talking directly to the County Auditor (now deceased) in 2009 that there were many facts not disclosed to the public.
And, again, this year, Parks has applied for the vacancy. I sent the below documents to some City Council members not long ago. There is no law in Florida against cronyism.
You can read that audit attached below, since Eustis apparently doesn't vett applicants for the Commissioner appointments. The Lake County Court Clerk doesn't list audits prior to 2011 on their website but FiscalRangers still has it in our vast data warehouse:
Eustis is a happy place, and many great people live there, but do they really want an inbred City Council controlled by Holland and cousin BE Thompson who are related? Do they want a selection process where an insider is selected and no comparison charts of applicant skills and experience and education are shown? Do they want a person appointed where none of the voting Commissioners even go on the record about the candidate's skills that justify the selection? Professional procurement procedures require such analysis matrix's, so a process like Commissioner selection should also use them.
Were the Georgefest King & Queen Elections also Rigged? Locals tell me that insiders apparently also rigged the last two years' elections held by the Chamber of Commerce, for Georgefest King and Queen, with BE Thompson and one relative getting it in 2015, and Michael Holland and another relative getting it earlier this year. This year, I went to the Chamber website and was able to vote for Georgefest King & Queen nominees FOUR times AFTER the closure date. I was told by locals the deadline was closed early in 2015, and the entire Georgefest selection process for King and Queen may be rigged. When I tried to ask the Chamber Director and then the elected Eustis Chamber President to disclose the nomination and voting process, they both refused, saying the Chamber Board would have to approve sharing any information about the "selection" and "voting" process. I suggest the Chamber of Commerce Board have transparent hearings and an investigation on how the last two elections were handled. It just shows there is a pattern of possible insider actions that needs to be disclosed.
Which insider candidate will get the nod this time for City Commissioner? Will citizens demand a competent choice?
Eustis citizens might be happy with insiders or they should ensure qualified applicants enter the process and also speak out to resist control of Eustis by an inside group. I would say the same if a posse of Gator fans or Elvis impersonators were controlling Commission positions.
I can certainly say that no business would relocate in Eustis with such schenanigans - it's like Gilligan's Island, or Fantasy Island, or Mayberry. However, the staff are quite competent and great, it is just the political control of the city that is the question mark.
On May 12, the City Commissioners met for one action only, "Consideration of Process for Appointment of Interim Commissioner". That is the process that will be followed tomorrow, June 9, 2016.
You can see HERE the supporting documents prepared by the staff for that meeting, May 12. Staff made the recommendation to once again have a short application deadline, then the Commissioners select from the applicant pool on June 9.
"Therefore, staff recommends setting the application period to open at 8:00 a.m. on Monday, May 23, 2016, and close at 5:00 p.m. on Friday, May 27, 2016. Advertisements will be placed in both the Daily Commercial and Lake Sentinel. The special meeting for interviews and selection must then be held prior to June 19, 2016, to meet the 30 day deadline. It is recommended that the Commission meet to conduct the interviews on Thursday, June 9, 2016, at either 5:30 or 6:00 p.m. The interim Commissioner could then take his/her seat at the second meeting in June."
The real results will not be known until the June 9 meeting tomorrow at 5:30 pm when the credibility of the candidate selection process can be watched. Read the applicant applications, then determine if the most qualified non-insider is selected, or is there another relative in the applicant pool who will be chosen?
Eustis residents should ensure qualified, skilled candidates are considered first, and the process to select the winner is not rigged. But, based upon what happened last year, why should anyone other than insiders apply? (At least one qualified candidate from last year told me he would not apply due to the insider actions).
Finally, we think there should be a theme song dedicated to this mess, and here it is: The Foggy Bottom Boys singing the hillbilly song "I am a man of constant sorrow" from the movie "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou".
Post a comment about how you feel!