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Bunnell’s Armando Martinez: Cop or City Manager? Constitution Says Choose One

| January 8, 2011

bunnell city manager armando martinez

He\’s the man. (© FlaglerLive)

They do things strangely, weirdly and expensively in Bunnell. But Florida law may be catching up to Bunnell City Manager Armando Martinez’s weird contractual arrangement, which has enabled him since 2008 to be both city manager and director of public safety. The second title is superfluous regardless, since, as city manager, all other city department heads, including the police chief, would report to him. The additional title has had the unintended—or perhaps intended—effect of diminishing the authority of Police Chief Arthur Jones.

More relevant to taxpayers: it has allowed Martinez to cash in on an extra $6,000 in “hazard pay,” and to cost taxpayers an additional $5,000 in workers compensation costs, only to have Martinez occasionally respond to police calls.

The News-Journal’s Julie Murphy this morning reports that Martinez “may be violating the state constitution” by holding both titles. His “continued work as a police officer may violate a section of the Florida Constitution, which states: ‘No person shall hold at the same time more than one office under the government of the state and the counties and municipalities therein.’”

Martinez then gives a remarkably Clintonia explanation of why he is but isn’t a police officer, depending on one’s definition of is: “I’m still a police officer, but I’m not an ‘officer’ because I resigned as chief just like Mark Barker did in Holly Hill,” a distinction the State Attorney’s office’s definition of a police officer does not abide. Baker, the story states, had his police credentials “temporarily inactivated” when he took managing Holly Hill after the firing of Oel Wingo in November. Not having those credentials hasn’t stopped Martinez from acting the cop and cashing on hazard pay. Jones tells the paper Martinez responded to “a minimum of five calls” in the past year, which works out to more than $2,000 a call: better hourly pay than some of New York’s finest corporate lawyers.

“I back up officers continuously,” Martinez says. “I just don’t write these all down besides everything else I do.” But not keeping proper policing records is a demotion or firing offense for lesser cops in the Bunnell Police Department: at least one cop was demoted for just such a reason. Records are important for numerous reasons, including the responding cop’s accountability and the legal paper trail of the case if and when an arrest is made. If Martinez’s role in that trail is skirted, the record is crucially incomplete.

Martinez’s dual position was created, he said, to enable him to keep his police credentials through the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. In other words, the Bunnell City Commission was doing him a favor—an $11,000 favor—that also happens to supplement his salary handsomely. Martinez’s total compensation package is $117,000–$90,000 of it in base pay, $21,000 of it in deferred compensation, and $6,000 in hazard pay. The figure does not include benefits and peripheral costs such as workers compensation. (See his contract.)

bunnell city commissioner elbert tucker

Elbert Tucker (© FlaglerLive)

Elbert Tucker, the Bunnell city commissioner who tends to raise the most questions about the city’s finances, considers the additional pay unwarranted (although Tucker had no issue with the doubling of commissioners’ salaries). Tucker also tried to have the sheriff’s office take over the Bunnell Police Department last year when, for the third time in a decade, the department’s practices came under withering criticism by an official report—in that case, in a State Attorney’s investigative report last year that revealed shoddy record and evidence-keeping, cops’ unwarranted arrests and intimidation of drivers, and cops’ favoritism toward Jimmy Flynt, a city commissioner and owner of a wrecker company, who benefited from wrecker calls illegally diverted to him, outside the official rotation (a benefit Flynt says he was not aware of). The investigation promoted the city to end some of its more egregious practices.

Tucker argued that the city’s law enforcement could be done better and less expensively by the sheriff’s office. The merger would have saved Bunnell an estimated $260,000. After a workshop that included an orchestrated parade of support for the police department—a parade made up largely of Palm Coast residents recruited to lend a clapping hand to Jones’ service—the city commission rejected the idea of consolidating law enforcement with the sheriff’s office. Had that consolidation gone through, Martinez would have likely lost his public safety title and hazard pay.

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27 Responses for “Bunnell’s Armando Martinez: Cop or City Manager? Constitution Says Choose One”

  1. Jojo says:

    The State of Florida has the audacity to call Northerners (or people from the Union States) “double dippers.”

    This State has rewritten the meaning of double dippers. Take for instance higher education with respect to University Presidents retiring on Florida pensions and then being rehired at their own salary.

    This is the kind of abuse that Gov. Scott needs to legislate.

    Martinez already has a pension before working for Bunnell. Shit or get off the potty.

  2. SAW says:

    Could this be more about individual GREED / ego or maybe both, if I remember correctly I believe that Mr.Martinez is already getting a hefty retiremenr pension from Florida tax payers from his previous police employment down south, something which also should have been mentioned here.

    This is known as double dipping at the public trough, grabbing yet more money, benefits, pensions etc. and now even attempting to hold down two jobs this can only be greed.

    Some blame must lie with city, and county commissioners for example, they are the ones that allow these double dipping individuals qualified or not, to continue to take advantage of the system.

    What with so many others currently unemployed etc, why not let other capable qualified individuals working their way up have an opportunity, then back fill with someone that truly needs a job, that would be the fair thing to do.

  3. Anonymous says:

    There may be some of this playing around with positions in the school system to try and get some work done and pay a person a little more without actually getting a better qualified deputy which may be needed, Check out the use of position names like SENIOR DIRECTOR,

  4. Johnny Taxpayer says:

    I’m surprised the first jump is to “greed” instead of looking at the facts. A) The constitutional definition of “officer” is not the same as the dictionary definition of officer. For example a Contracts Manager for the County or a Municipality maybe considered an “Officer” because he/she has the authority to bind the government he/she works for… but by the simple definition offered in this article and the News-Journal article that person should then be able to write speeding tickets, because after all, an officer is an officer.
    and B) this definitional issue has yet to be resolved… there have been a few (very few) opinions offered, but not from the Judiciary… (Charlie Crist whilst Attorney General of Florida issued an opinion that Red Light cameras were unconstitutional in Florida, did that stop anybody?)
    c) Bunnell is a very small municipality, with very limited resources, (which likely shouldn’t have it’s own police department in the first place), however since it does, and they have a City Manager who is very qualified as an LEO, it makes good financial sense to have him be available to assist and backup the other officers when the situation warrants. This backup for a mere $11k a year, is by all measure, a great value. Should a Judge determine that this violates the constitution, then obviously the practice should stop, but it simply because a simple situation in Holly Hill was handled differently does not by itself make the Bunnell situation unconstitutional!

  5. Nero Fiddled..... says:

    I would love to see the stats on the amount of “back-ups” and calls Mr. Martinez actually responded to, conveniently though, those are not available. I’m sorry to disagree with you Johnny taxpayer, but the $11, 000.00 propabley should be being spent on a department that is poorly run and equiped rather than to line someone’s already fat pocketts. Better yet add that total to the $260,000 the City would have saved letting the sherriff’s office take over, as it should have. How does it feel Taxpayers paying more money for less service…………………….

  6. Just the Facts says:

    Mr. Martinez does not respond to calls. He will be driving by and see a police officer with a vehicle stopped and then lower his window and call out to the officer something like “are you ok”, of course the officer says yes I’m fine. This is the extent of his “answering calls”. Invest the money in another police officer. Every squad has 2 people, and when people call out sick (certain officers do every time its their weekend to work) then one officer is left to patrol the city alone. It is a complete nightmare in terms of officer safety, yet they pay Jones 50k a year to do nothing but be a puppet and Martinez to make promises that he will never be able to fulfill.

  7. Jojo says:

    Here’s the bottom line. I’ll come out and roll down my window but if hired I will at least get out of the car too. How long do you think you and I can get away with working a job like this – not very long. Before long the City will have other chores for me to do.

    Johnny taxpayer let’s get real. This is just a back room deal to line the pockets of Mr Martinez. I certainly would not want to be waiting for Mr Martinez to back me up if I needed help while he has to get dressed at 3 AM in the morning while I’m rolling in the the mud, in full uniform with a vilent felon. Hire another cop not for the sake of money but for the sake of an officer’s life.

  8. Captain Courageous formerly ItsMe says:

    Be careful Jojo you’re entering territory not supported by some here. Some it seems would delight in seeing an officer struggle for his life and see the felon the victor.

  9. Jojo says:

    Captain numbnuts surely you must know the truth of that statement since hundreds of police officers are killed yearly as the first line of defense protecting scumbags like you.

  10. Captain Courageous formerly ItsMe says:

    Jojo, surely you misunderstood me. I was not speaking of myself. I understand well that our law enforcement officers are our first line of defense. I will refer you to the other story on this site about the jails new rule about mail. There you will see some comments behind my conclusion.

    No need for an apology after you are done reading those comments just pay a little more attention next time. Peace.

  11. chiarahall777 says:

    So now here is another questionable practice from Bunnell’s gov’t eschelon. Why has this been allowed for so long? These practices have been causing taxpayers money they cannot afford. Meanwhile, nothing has improved in the city. Police officers have enough to deal with on the streets without dealing with corrupt and unsupportive superiors. When can the lawful citizens of Bunnell remove these individuals and replace them with individuals that actually give a damn about the people and officers so Bunnell can cease being a prison for its citizens. But, I seriously feel we will be seeing a lot more stories of corruption and misconduct coming out of that city.

  12. I don’t understand how workers compensation fits into his salary and benefits. I know it’s a coverage he would have but is he also collecting money actively ?

  13. The Piranha says:

    What a joke! Hazardous duty pay? For what, paper cuts? Martinez a cop? More like a political punch line. Did you see that contract? Google his name and the department he “worked” for down south and you will find he may have left there with credibility issues. I wonder if the commission did any homework before they hired this guy or did he know someone? Tucker is the only one with a clue as to what is actually going on in Bunnell. The bottom line, the commissioner’s are all elected positions and can all be voted out. If more people who read and write in this column would go to the city meeting’s and hear how everything is just oh so wonderful in Bunnell, you might just start to believe it too or you might just choose to make things different.

  14. Elana Lee says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong here, but from the posts I’ve seen above, it appears not one person who spoke up identified themselves. Are that many of you afraid of retailation? Maybe I should take the hint and heed the wisdom of Abe Lincoln, but…..

    I remember when Martinez first came to town, and he was meeting with all the citizens of Bunnell. He made them a promise to clean up their town, end the corruption, hire more officers, etc. (That is not a direct quote, but just from memory.) I never had an opportunity to meet him – I called him and left messages on his vm, and stopped by the dept. several times to speak with him in regards to the grant I was initially authoring for Flagler County’s Public Safety Committee Jail Diversion, but he was never available.

    As for “worker’s comp law’s” comment, an employer is required by law to cover any “employee” with Worker’s Comp insurance, and I can tell you, it is not cheap. The hazard insurance is for specific lines of employment, so if what is written is correct, Mr. Martinez must be still on some sort of active duty, and thus the City is required to pay for this coverage for him while acting in that capacity.

    • Raul Troche says:

      Elana Lee, actually every employee is not required to have workmen’s compensation. In construction yes in smell businesses not until you have 3 or 4 employees. I know a little about it since back in, I was partly responsible for getting workman’s compensation laws changed in this state after getting arsenic poisoning on a job. I had comp insurance but they and the state did nothing for me but deny me coverage that was paid for and give me a bunch of rhetoric. A couple of newspaper articles and lots of phone calls and the governor decided to make some changes. The changes allegedly were good and have been helpful to many but were to late to help me. I found out through my attorney that a lot of politicians are in workman’s company pocket. There is a lot of corruption in that system in Florida.

  15. Honest Abe says:

    Elana, are you not aware of a Sergeant who was working for Bunnell who assisted the State Attorney’s Office with the corruption investigation and upon completion was “laid off” for financial reasons. Bunnell PD had just hired a brand new cop not even two (2) weeks prior to him being “fired”. I hear that policy was written (as the investigation was ongoing) that he could lay off any person for any reason at any time.

  16. Just the Facts says:

    Not to mention, if you do some research, what you will find is that everyone who has ever disagreed with Mr. Martinez has been fired in one way or another, or disciplined and black listed from any positions out side the City of Bunnell.

  17. Jojo says:

    Elana,

    The contract is nothing more than to allow Mr Martinez to retain his Law Enforcement Certification with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the agency that oversees Certification for the State of Florida. If Mr. Martinez does not work in law enforcement for four years, his FDLE Certification expires. He would then be required to be re-certified which means he would have to go through a police training facility and pass the State exam all over.

    This way Mr Martinez keeps his certification thanks to Bunnell taxpayers and can leave anytime he wants and apply for other law enforcement positions in this State.

  18. TAZ says:

    I strongly agree with, Just the facts. It seems like Martinez is a smooth talker, and knows just what to say and how to play the citizens, commissioners and the system. I have been to most of the city commissioners meeting, and the only one that actually knows the statues and laws and what is going on is Commissioner Tucker. If you research Martinez, he and two other officers were investigated by the FDLE for stealing money and fraud in 2003. http://www.miaminewtimes.com And the case was closed, just like the case with Flynt. hummmm….some kind of pattern here!! Which raises questions, when did all these seizures start with the Bunnell PD, hummm, in 2008, when Martinez came to Bunnell. I believe someone, somewhere is getting a pretty good payoff. And you can not tell me that Martinez and Jones didn’t know what was going on. The Bunnell PD needs to be closed, and the Flagler County Sheriff’s Department needs to take over. It was funny how no one in Bunnell knew about that meeting, only the Palm Coast citizens did, and they showed up, like it concerns them! I also think we need a new city attorney, he should have caught this (double dipping)and a lot of other things that have been going on.
    And in closing, Martinez is getting a penison from down south, and getting paid for being a cop and city manager? Why is his home being foeclosed on? Is the money going to pay someone to keep their mouth shut?

  19. chiarahall777 says:

    I agree with you Taz that the sheriff’s office should take over, but I disagree with your statement about the meeting where only Palm Coasters showed up. I am concerned what happens in Bunnell. As a Palm Coast parent with a child in the Bunnell School System I am very much concerned what happens in that town. As well as others who may not reside but may also have students there or even work there. What happens in Bunnell can easily spill over around the boundaries between the two cities. So yes, it does concern those in Palm Coast. Corruption affects everyone, not just the town its happening in. If Bunnell was an isolated city then yes, it wouldn’t matter but it isn’t and what happens there does affect many Palm Coast lives. Its concerns me when we are hearing that good cops are being let go and reputations tarnished because of their help in investigations that may unveil questionable practices of superiors meanwhile the LT gets caught (and finally removed) for numerous drug and fraud related crimes as well as favoritism to certain businesses. And now the Chief and City Manager having questionable practices… I want my loved ones and myself to be safe there and the citizens of Bunnell have a right to be protected by loyal and just servants of the law. Yes, they need to be notified properly when meetings occur and I pray these incidences wake them up and inspire them to start taking more of a stand for themselves. I hope citizens of Bunnell make it their social responsibility to remove those who have been in charge too long.

  20. TAZ says:

    I see your point chiarihall777. And yes, it does matter to the rest of the county what happens in Bunnell. Especially if you have to drive through Bunnell, do any business in Bunnell, or have kids in school there. As far as the officers losing their jobs. They would have had the chance to apply at the sheriff’s department and keep their jobs. Most of the calls in Bunnell, are backed up by the FCSO.
    And with the economy the way it is right now, it would save the tax payers of Bunnell to have the FCSO to take over. It might not save a lot, but every little bit helps. I think it’s something the citizens of Bunnell really need to think about.

  21. The Piranha says:

    Approximately $270,000.00 savings is not chump change especially when it a comes with better coverage before, during and after a crime occurs. Bunnell is typically covered by two police officers a shift and that’s if nobody calls in sick (because they won’t call someone in to pay overtiime). If you’ve been to these meetings the talk is mostly over money issues or a broken water pipe. The mayor sees everything through rose color glasses. We vote them in, we can vote them out. This city needs to wake up.

  22. Rudy Smith says:

    Get rid of Martinez. His salary is too high.

  23. Rudy Smith says:

    You are so right @The Piranha, the mayor’s vision is clouded and her ears are turned to the concern of outside interest. Time to start looking for replacements. Change is good when it comes to government positions.

  24. curious says:

    Has everyone forgotten all the good things that Mr. Martinez hasdone?

  25. The Piranha says:

    Curious, I’m very curious as to what you believe the good things martinez has done. Was it promoting a sergeant to lieutenant (second in command) and officer (the lieutenant’s wife) to corporal (and change policy to allow this to happen) to see them both get arrested and fired less than a year later? Or was it cooking books so that the numbers would appear as though “his department” has made a difference? Ever hear the saying, numbers don’t lie and liars use numbers? Why not take a walk next Saturday night say down Booe and Anderson and tell me how the quality of life has gotten so much better since marty came to town. Of course if you borrow the mayor’s glasses, everything will appear just fine.

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