City manager Charlie Dodge stunned his bosses at last week’s City Commission retreat with accusations that one Commissioner was violating the city charter by conducting an “inquisition” of employees. At the end of the meeting, Dodge told Mayor Frank Ortis he had one last item to discuss. Dodge laid out evidence that a fellow commissioner “intimidated” city employees to the point they “feared retaliation” if they did not cooperate.
Charlie Dodge said, “It is really unfortunate today that I feel compelled to bring your attention…to an ongoing problem…I believe is an ongoing violation of our city charter by a member of the city commission.” He said, “There’s no other way to address this issue in a private way because that could be a violation of sunshine laws.” Dodge said he hoped for “a development of trust,” but the commissioner repeatedly questioned staff about issues and their supervisors.
Dodge said the Commissioner’s questioning “intimidated” employees and they “feared retaliation” if they did not answer the questions. Dodge said the questioning amounted to “interference with administration” which is a clear violation of the city charter.
Dodge said he shared an item to be discussed at that very meeting with one commissioner. The item was a briefing on discussions between staff and representatives of North Perry Airport. After discussing the item with the Commissioner, Dodge said he received a phone call from North Perry Airport officials asking why they had not been invited to the meeting.
Dodge said this was just the latest example of this Commissioner’s attempts to “derail” his administration.
In addition to spreading”misinformation” about Pembroke Pines water quality, Dodge said this Commissioner provided a “constant criticism of employees.”
Dodge said even the spouse of this Commissioner would contact employees to ask the same questions. Dodge called this behavior “totally unethical.”
“I want it to stop,” Dodge said. “It needs to stop.”
The Pembroke Pines Commission was stunned by Charlie Dodge’s report. Mayor Frank Ortis said contacting Perry Airport officials was “wrong” and “undermined” city staff. Calling the news was “embarrassing,” Vice Mayor Angelo Castillo apologized to city staff. City Attorney Sam Goren stated the sharing of privileged information from labor discussions, shade meetings and other issues could lead to criminal penalties. Castillo said there needs to be an investigation to see if a crime was committed. Saying her head was spinning, Commissioner Iris Siple apologized to staff. She called the alleged behavior “bullying” of city employees. Siple said she was thinking “holy *#$” while listening to Dodge. She said the behavior is “very serious stuff that [not only] crossed the line, it erased the line.” Newly appointed Commissioner Ismael Monroig said he learned in private business to respect the chain command. Monroig told Dodge he would discuss disagreements with him personally. He said he would never treat staffers so poorly. City Commissioner Jay Schwartz did not take the opportunity to address the matter and the meeting was adjourned.
WAS DODGE TALKING ABOUT COMMISSIONER JAY SCHWARTZ?
Some Pembroke Pines insiders believe Charlie Dodge’s remarks were aimed at Commissioner Jay Schwartz. During the Perry Airport discussion, Schwartz smugly declared he would give real “facts” about Airport issues. Schwartz rarely fails to mention his love of flying his small airplane.
Why didn’t Jay Schwartz speak on the matter at the Commission retreat?
We asked Jay Schwartz for comment. We will update story if he responds.