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Bunnell Mayor Outflanks Rookie Rogers, Shutting Down Talk of Martinez’s Future

| August 12, 2011

John Rogers in the foreground moments before tonight's meeting while Armando Martinez confers with City Attorney Sid Nowell. City Clerk Dan Davis is setting the chamber's temperature, which was elevated. (© FlaglerLive)

Bunnell Mayor Catherine Robinson didn’t want to be at tonight’s meeting of the city commission. “I wasn’t kidding when I said I’ve got 10 people at my house at 7 o’clock expecting a meal,” she said, just five minutes into the meeting. And she made sure she wouldn’t be long at tonight’s meeting.

A minute later, the meeting was over, and John Rogers, the rookie commissioner who’d called the special meeting to discuss Bunnell City Manager Armando Martinez’s job prospecting elsewhere—he’s a finalist for police chief in Melbourne—had been outflanked by Robinson, one of the county’s oldest political hands. Martinez, in sum, survived what may have been a vote of confidence thanks to Robinson’s maneuver, who prevented it from taking place.

Rogers wanted to talk about Martinez’s contract—and possibly end it. Robinson didn’t allow it. Martinez’s job status is “status quo,” she said, and his application for work elsewhere a non-issue.

Robinson took advantage of Rogers’s own mistake. The agenda item Rogers dictated to city staff was about discussing Martinez’s job application for police chief in Melbourne. It said nothing about Martinez’s contract, though that’s what Rogers really wanted to talk about. Rogers thought that was implied.

“The only thing I wanted to do was protect the city from having to pay $50,000-plus of severance pay,” Rogers said. But the moment he started discussing the Martinez contract, Robinson cut him off in what looked like a ready, rehearsed parry, well aware of what was coming. She had, in fact, called Rogers the day before and spoken to him about the meeting, telling him it was unnecessary.

She turned to the city attorney for a point of order and made clear that there would be no deviation from the agenda item: that discussions of the contract in any form would be off limits. That nullified the reason for Rogers’s meeting, which was to take advantage of a clause in Martinez’s contract that gives the city a brief window not to renew his contract. That window closes this weekend. That’s why, Rogers said, the meeting had to be held today.

Robinson also prevented Martinez from speaking at length about his contract and said, “When I asked about this meeting I was told that, Commissioner Rogers told me he had inside information, so if there’s something that we need to discuss that’s inside information, this is the time.” In other words, Robinson had discussed the meeting with Rogers before it took place.

“I didn’t tell you we had inside information,” Rogers said.

“You said you had inside information,” Robinson said.

“I did not tell you that.”

None of the other commissioners said—or managed to say—anything. Elbert Tucker tried to make a move to amend the agenda. Robinson cut him off, too, citing the charter’s clarity barring items not on the agenda. The meeting was over in seven minutes. Martinez and most of the commissioners, a disgruntled and humiliated Rogers among them, quickly walked out.

“He was outflanked,” Tucker said of Rogers. “I think they stuck a little bit too strictly” to the wording of the agenda, he said. “His other employment or application for employment will directly affect his employment with us. If he gets the job his contract is gone. He has to stay here for 60- days according to his contract with us. If he resigns, he still has to give us 60 days, and he gets no severance.” Clearly, Tucker said, the parameters of the agenda should have been broadened. He said the matter will return as an agenda item in a subsequent meeting.

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32 Responses for “Bunnell Mayor Outflanks Rookie Rogers, Shutting Down Talk of Martinez’s Future”

  1. Amy C. says:

    What? The title should then be called the $50,000 dinner at Mrs. Robinsons house. If he leaves and we have to pay him that much money and more because she had dinner plans she should resign. Rookie Rogers or not that was just a slap in the face to anyone who voted for Mr.Rogers she might as well walked down and isle and smacked everyone in the face on her way out to one of the most expensive dinner parties I’ve ever heard of…. (BTW I Did Not Vote for Rogers) What a Bully!!

  2. Mark Langello says:

    I was at the hastily called meeting tonight and I saw it a little differently. First of all, in your headline, you describe the Mayor as outflanking another commissioner. In actuality since the agenda was dictated by commissioner Rogers, the Mayor had no hand in what it said. She was bound by City charter to follow the rules the citizens voted on when the charter was instituted.

    Also, the author’s presumption that the City Manager narrowly avoided a vote of confidence on his job performance implies he wouldn’t get a majority vote of support from the commission. However, it was obvious from the lack of interest in the majority of the commissioners to even discuss this matter would imply they have confidence in him, and would support him.

    In fact, if anyone who actually analyzed the whole of Mr. Martinez’s record on the job, they would support him too. He has brought a level of professionalism to this post, and has brought the city through some of the roughest times in its history. He has done more, with less, and cut budgets, and saved every taxpayer in the city significant money. A quick example of this is the 2010 property tax role. The average homeowner saved 22% in property taxes on the city side from the previous year, and without a noticeable loss in service. He brought in a new department, the solid waste department, that not only is saving the city money, but improved the level of service and increased the recycling effort throughout the city. The examples continue, and it would take several articles to explore them.

    Many of the businessmen in the city who have dealt with him like him, and are pleased with his business friendly attitude, something we haven’t seen in our city managers in many years. In the position of city manager, you will have to deal with many controversial issues, and you can never make everyone happy, that goes with the territory. But in comparison with most other people who have this job in surrounding cities, Mr. Martinez shines as a straight talking, intelligent, people manager who has proven he can get the job done. I only wish this site would be more neutral and at least, describe the positive instead of always taking a cynical view.

  3. Godsgirl says:

    Kinda shows who has the City’s best interest at hand! When our own Mayor isn’t concerned with our Cities money, that might be a little bit of a problem.When she won’t even discuss what topic was to be discussed, hmmmm I wonder why? Who is she for a person or the Citizens of the City. Makes you think………
    Don’t lose heart Rogers, at least someone on the board has the Citizens in mind. Don’t back down!

  4. Godsgirl says:

    Well Amy, that so called Bully had this City’s best interest at heart and has from the beginning, so maybe you can join in on that dinner when it happens.

  5. Anonymous says:

    lol What a joke this city is. Every inhabitant and everyone in charge are a bunch of bafoons! nice job Bunnell! You never cease to amaze… smh

  6. Godsgirl says:

    I believe I saw Mr Langello walk into the meeting as it was about to adjourn. I don’t believe the meeting was suppose to pertain to his performance “so to speak” but money the tax payers of Bunnell will be paying. Do you live in Bunnell?

  7. Reds says:

    Amy C and Godsgirl the Mayor is concerned about city finances and the city! But mr Rogers made a fool of himself by calling the meeting to talk about a severance if Martinez leaves…well maybe Rogers has reading comprehension issues because RESIGN there is NO SEVERANCE to be paid

  8. Reds says:

    Not finished typing

    *if Martinez resigns he does not get any severence so let him get another job offer and save the city $50,000. Ned time Rogers should think it through instead of trying to showboat.

  9. Godsgirl says:

    Reds read previous article on Special Meeting Set as to why meeting called the “Window to not renew the Contract” well to late now.

  10. Bunnell res says:

    No surprise Mr. Langello is defending Martinez. I’snt Martinez leasing office space for the City from Langello. Seems to me that Martinez leaving may cause Langello to lose some money. It’s easy for someone like Langello to defend the person whos filling his wallet with cash. Im not sure what Martinez’s puppets on the commision will do without him but it seems to me that all the the Bunnell citizens want Martinez gone and thats what needs to happen. I know I will but I hope the rest of the city’s voters will remember what the commision chose to do and not to do come election time. It’s time for a change.

  11. Haw Creek Girl says:

    The last thing in the world Rogers should be is humiliated. Outraged perhaps, humiliated NO. Catherine Robinson should hide her head in shame for her antics that led to this meeting not being a productive one. I have completely lost any respect I had for her. At least Elbert was diplomatic and when he realized the agenda was going to be used as an Ace in the Hole, he tried to ammend it. The only inside information in this topic is more than likely between Martinez and Robinson. Rogers wouldn’t know, he’s not that kind of guy.

  12. palmcoaster says:

    Very clear, realistic explanation here from Reds. If Martinez resigns gets NO severance. If Roger gets his dunce way and fires Martinez then cost the city the Severance pay. Duhhh! Very smart from Mayor Robinson and probably advised by very cleaver and just City of Bunnell lawyer Mr. Sid Nowell. What is wrong with Roger’s? Why he dislikes Martinez so much?

  13. Jim N says:

    If in fact things occurred as stated in the article:

    ““When I asked about this meeting I was told that, Commissioner Rogers told me he had inside information, so if there’s something that we need to discuss that’s inside information, this is the time.” In other words, Robinson had discussed the meeting with Rogers before it took place. ”

    Is this not a possibly criminal violation of Florida’s Sunshine laws? Yet again?

    [Quote]b. Meetings conducted over the telephone or using electronic media technology
    (1) Discussions conducted via telephones, computers, or other electronic means are not exempted from the
    Sunshine Law
    As discussed in this manual, the Sunshine Law applies to the deliberations and discussions between two or
    more members of a board or commission on some matter which foreseeably will come before that board or
    commission for action. The use of a telephone to conduct such discussions does not remove the conversation from
    the requirements of s. 286.011, F.S. See, State v. Childers, No. 02-21939-MMC; 02-21940-MMB (Escambia Co. Ct.
    June 5, 2003), per curiam affirmed, 886 So. 2d 229 (Fla. 1st DCA 2004) (telephone conversation during which two
    county commissioners and the supervisor of elections discussed redistricting violated the Sunshine Law). [end quote] {$file/Sunshine.pdf }

    • Mr concerned citizen says:

      Jim n I would think his opinion on this post is exactly what I was going to add this so called phone call the day before the meeting does sound like a sunshine law breach!!!!!! As for mr. Rodgers (rookie) mistake Ha Ha !! it’s now 2013 when I finally read this article and time has passed and Martinez has again been looking elsewhere for employment just lately again closer to his home and again mr. Rodgers and mr. Tucker’s lawn mower our out to get mr. Martinez canned! What’s ? Up with these two are there interests really for the citizens of BUNNELL or are they on there own agenda!!!,I’ve known mr.Rodgers now for over 25 some years back when he worked for his brothers towing business before he had a fall out with his I believe step-brother and sister in law then went out and started his own towing business in competition of them ok.lets rewind here a bit The character here Mr. Rodgers in particular is playing as a vendetta against Mr.martinez is just the way Mr. Rodgers operates! He showed his brother he can operate on his own now he’s trying to show the voters of BUNNELL he can operate on his own!!!

  14. PJ says:

    If your a commissioner you must know the rules that you are supposed to follow. Rogers was correct to ask the question but the forum was wrong. Rogers needs to lean some decorum and respect. His style of mowing down people like THE CITY MANAGER and HIS STAFF makes him a questionable commissioner ,if he keeps this style of city government up he will continue to lose respect from the rest of the board. He is a big boy and can stand the misguided meeting heat. Rogers take your time next time you may actually be able to make a difference. Question others before you jump on the soap box.

  15. Haw Creek Girl says:

    Rogers is a big boy and has broad shoulders. He can handle the heat here and the last thing he needs to do is question others. Why the hell would we want the blind leading the blind? Rogers will learn as he goes on his own instead of learning from the twisted example set before him. In fact, I think Elbert is going to be more than willing to be an example for Rogers going forward. It was in fact, Elbert that stated plainly that this will be on a future agenda.
    Catherine and Armando CLEARLY didn’t have the support necessary. If Miss Daisy was on board, they would have let the meeting go forward but because they knew Miss Daisy was going to bloom with Rogers and Tucker…Catherine had to forensically disect the agenda.
    I have said from the get go Catherine is no dummy. I have also said previously that I felt she was misguided when it comes to Martinez. Last night, I think I saw a glimpse of Romeo and Juliet as I looked at Catherine and Armando because she committed political suicide last night.
    And as far as Crain Brady missing the meeting, seriously….is she ever really there?

  16. PJ says:

    HawCreek girl Jenny Brady was there last night. your right about Elbert it should be on the agenda for discussion. Martinez is the one that told the board so it needs to be discussed. Leadership must be in place.

    No political sucide althought romantic as it may seem. The Mayor called the meeting as it should have by the book. Good Mayoring on her part. You make great points Hawcreek girl.

  17. Godsgirl says:

    Oh if all knew the behind the scenes……. I think Rogers was well aware if he quits no severance duh! But if y’all knew the window of opportunity to not renew his contract or remove his severance from his contract was over as of today, hence why the meeting was to be done then, but obviously some didn’t want to explore that option they’d rather pay severance. No Sunshine law was broken, the discussion prior to the meeting, was that of one for the meeting to be called, which if y’all do your homework you will see it wasn’t the Mayor, she had dinner remember. Mr. Rogers, Mr Tucker I believe are going to make a difference and hopefully Miss Daisy will step up and start speaking HER mind not follow suit, maybe we can see some much needed change in Bunnell.

  18. PJ says:

    Godsgirl you seem to know alot of the inside information. Most of us are not privey to the Martinez contract so if the contract was so important why did not the board get this information timely? No one but Rogers called the meeting and he made a rookie mistake, it’s as simple as that. These commissioners need to communicate within the law and even more so when it has to do with the future of the city. Instead eveyone with some concept or idea on the board starts to talk in riddles just get to the point. Hence the “inside information” saga. Let’s stop the ego mongering here and get to work. Stop trying to out smart everyone, as you see in this case Rogers out smarted himself.

  19. Honest Abe says:

    Why is Martinez not liked? Again, do a search that includes (armando martinez miami dade police internal affairs) and read the article from Miami titled “Rumors Flying Like Bullets”. Henry, Rogers and Tucker tried to do the “right thing” and possibly save the citizens of Bunnell a large sum of money yet the dictator’s girl and hopefully soon to be ex-mayor arrived for his rescue. Tucker’s amendment (which would normally be allowed in any meeting) was quickly shot down by the bride. Remember come election, she was voted in and can easily be voted out. Baxley – 1, Robinson – 0 Oh, and Mark please, give me a break…just go cash the check!

  20. R Lewis says:

    Honest Abe that was very well said we need to get our donations ready for Baxley. PJ you also have a lot of inside info btw tell the city workers to Walk very lightly around the Boss or you can be a walk on item on a Martinez agenda without a problem, and be handed a pink slip like sarge and the code enforcement man. Was the sarg really out on workmans comp when he was laid off? Tucker and Rogers need’s conductor’s hat asap because they were Railroaded! Rogers you will be fine you have the support of the community as long as you look out for the community! Dont let it get you down your doing a good job. You will have some bumps along the road we all do. Martinez and the Mayor try to keep the city out the headlines while your still in office.

  21. PJ says:

    Mr. R Lewis, inside information a term too much used here in Bunnell. your comments about the Mayor are unfair. Rogers needs to get with the program and then hell be fine. About half way through his term he’ll get it. For now however anyone in office gets his or her thoughts and opinions out seems to work well even if you did a rookie mistake. Martinez is a fair leader the current city employees don’t seem to mind his style of management.

    The folks that have been let go or laid off or fired are a result of those particular circumstances that forced their hands we all wish those thinds don’t happen. Troubling as that may seem improvements to the city continue and non-improvements seem to stand on issue. Do and or say as you like, elections make a difference so vote and comment hopefully this will help Martinez and the board run the city.

  22. Honest Abe says:

    PJ, if people were allowed to vote for the city manager, my guess it would not be martinez sitting there. Do you as a Bunnell resident want your city manager to be driving across multiple counties just to get to their place of employment? The city manager should live in the confines of Bunnell, period. If you believe this current bozo is doing a good job, it is only because you do not know him well enough, hence your laid off and fired comment. The people that have been laid off were done because they were a threat to expose Bunnell PD or city management for what it is, poorly managed. Ask any Bunnell cop (privately without chance of retribution) if they would rather work for the County and the answer would be near 100% yes. He came from Miami with questionable character flaws and I’m guessing has been allowed to stay here with the same only because of his close relationship with the majority of th current commissioners. Come the next election, my guess is the tide will turn but the snake will already have left for a new victim.

  23. R Lewis says:

    Abe you know the majority of them don’t like the honesty, the truth hurts, he would be voted out, however he would of Never been voted in, but he is here now for how long that’s tbd. PJ staff does like him that does say something. There is approximately 564 days until March 2013, and I will not vote for the people I voted for in the past no way. I think this past week the Mayor and the Vice Mayors support took a serious hit. I will watch how this board that you work for votes on the upcoming issues. So please get it together and keep out if the headlines, if that’s unfair then I don’t know what to tell you. In the end it needs to be fair to the citizens of Bunnell who you work for.

  24. PJ says:

    Fair points there Mr. Lewis. Voting is critical and change is good. Honest Abe I’m not sure if I can agree with all you say but you say some truths too. All I can say is continue to speak up as it informs those in charge of the dissent. Thank you Gentlemen!

  25. now says:

    Its time for the City of Bunnell to leave the county government services building, They can go to Langello’s building,

  26. Larry says:

    “The folks that have been let go or laid off or fired are a result of those particular circumstances that forced their hands we all wish those thinds don’t happen.”

    Interesting statement to make but desperately in need of further explanation. Please enlighten us all on how a forcing of hands lead to a firing.

  27. PJ says:

    Larry it’s simple those that were fired “got caught” being un-ethical. Those that were laid off are as a result of the economy.

  28. Honest Abe says:

    PJ, I won’t argue with you about the fired but I must comment about the laid-off since to the best of my recollection, there have only been two (2). After assisting the State Attorney’s Office last year with a criminal investigation involving two alleged corrupt cops (husband and wife Murray’s) resulting in their arrest last summer, after being named Bunnell’s Cop of the Year two years in a row and in April last year Bunnell’s Crime Stopper’s Cop of the Year, then Sergeant Frank Gamarra was mysteriously laid-off due to “alleged” budgetary reasons yet they hired a police officer just one (1) week prior to his being laid-off. He was not asked to take a demotion and a Corporal take a subsequent demotion as in every legitimate police department in America would have taken place. Mind you these budgetary reasons also allowed every Bunnell city employee to get what was described at a commissioners meeting when confronted on the subject as a “holiday bonus” of $400.00 each at a total cost of some $17,000.00. The reason for this layoff will hopefully be exposed when this civil lawsuit against Martinez, Jones and the City of Bunnell goes to trial which typically takes 22-24 months. Per the Bunnell Chief of Police, Gamarra’s layoff was allegedly for financial reasons and he was chosen over the other (at that time) Sergeant Barbee who had no military preference, a written reprimand regarding his work and less seniority within Bunnell PD and rank) due to his Barbee’s “importance” within Bunnell PD.
    Well, I guess Sergeant Barbee wasn’t so important in the Chief’s eyes after all because a few months ago, while Sergeant Barbee was out on workman’s compensation and a representative for the Bunnell Police Department regarding union issues, he too was suddenly laid-off. If it looks like a snake and it hisses like a snake and it crawls like a snake…it’s a snake.

  29. Larry says:

    Ha! PJ, it is clear that you have some inside information but there are two sides to every story. Maybe you should truly learn the other side of the story before making such gross generalizations. Have a critical ear, just don’t believe everything you hear from a few of the spin doctors. Or on the contrary, ignorance is bliss.

  30. R Lewis says:

    PJ says:
    Larry it’s simple those that were fired “got caught” being un-ethical. Those that were laid off are as a result of the economy.

    PJ I suppose that Martinez is ethical? It’s just a matter of time change is coming.

  31. Honest Abe says:

    See the article in DNJ dated August 27, 2011…Sergeant Barbee files lawsuit against the City of Bunnell. Let’s go, here we go again… Everything they quote in that article is what is going to bite them in the Martinez! The expertise of Barbee in training was non-existent when they fired Gamarra. That will eventually come out when Gamarra produces the non-existent training that didn’t occur while he was in charge. Gamarra’s firing was solely a dump job by the puppeteer because his friends and department were embarrassed…hell, they even tried to do a conspiracy theory on him but were even to stupid to pull that off. Sergeant Barbee was fired because he was familiar with the previous wrong-doings of BPD and was representing their police department for a possible settlement if they were dissolved. FlaglerLive…you could write a movie after this is all said and done…hopefully with the ass in the pokey!

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