Flagler Beach City Commission Chairman John Feind began a meeting with his colleagues last week with an announcement as strange as it was cryptic. Fellow-commission Ron Vath was absent, Feind said, and would remain absent for the foreseeable future.
Feind didn’t explain. He said only that a commissioner’s unexcused absence for three consecutive meetings would result in that commissioner forfeiting his seat. That’s in the city charter. So Feind asked that commissioners excuse Vath’s absence. Which they did, without discussing or explaining why excusing Vath was warranted. Like its individual commissioners, the Flagler Beach City Commission collectively works in mysterious ways.
- Flagler Beach Commissioners Pick 12 to Interview for Manager
- A More Settled Flagler Beach Commission Makes Up and Nearly Kisses Over Fracture
- Dysfunction in Flagler Beach: Jane Mealy Rails at a “Fragmented” and Meddling Commission
- Flagler Beach City Manager Search Launches Over Fault Lines
The commissioners, however, weren’t sitting as a commission, but as the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency. The item wasn’t on the CRA meeting’s agenda, nor was it on the regular commission meeting’s agenda, which immediately followed that of the CRA board.
Reached on his cell phone Tuesday evening, Vath was even more cryptic than Feind. He said he was “out of town on business. Personal business.” How many meetings would he miss? “I’m not sure how many meetings.” Would he participate by phone, as members of other elected boards often do when they’re physically absent? “Not sure right now,” Vath said. “I may try.” Asked where he was geographically, Vath answered: “It’s just my own business where I am.”
“Everyone goes on vacation, everyone leaves,” he said. That’s not the case: absent extraneous circumstances that are usually more clearly explained, elected officials don’t go on extended vacations or sabbaticals that have them missing long swaths of critical public business.
The commissioner would not discuss the effect his absence would have on city business, leaving a commission potentially hung on even votes or affecting public business before the commission where his support–or opposition–would be material to the outcome of the issue. “If I’m not there, whatever happens, happens,” Vath said.
One rumor is that he’s in California. Another, alluded to by Feind last week, is that Vath is working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. A third rumor is that he’s doing something with the military. Californian speculations aside, rumors about Vath’s other dealings may be stretching credibility: he’s a septuagenarian. Vath, who’s married and has three children, was as a mechanical engineer and industrial safety director for the Mennen and Colgate manufacturing companies before working for Bova Construction as a home builder in the late 1990s, before his retirement. (Vath’s son-in-law, John Boback, who owns Bova Construction, was arrested in mid-August on a grand theft charge.)
Since Vath last attended a meeting of the commission in mid-August, he missed a special meeting regarding the police and firefighters’ pension funds, the regular meeting of the commission, and of course the CRA meeting that same day. He missed a commission budget workshop on Sept. 30. And he’s about to miss a slew of meetings, including all three special meetings set to interview 12 candidates for city manager (on Set. 2, 8 and 9) and two public hearings on the adoption of the coming year’s budget. The manager’s search hasn’t been quite smooth.
During last week’s commission meeting, commissioners briefly touched on Vath’s absence again, wondering if he would,or could, participate by phone. The commissioners’ attorney said he could, as long as the public could clearly hear what he said and vice-versa.
He should be considered absent without offical leave and removed from his office and a replacement appointed by the governor. If he refuses to sya where he is and why, a warrent for his arrest should be issued for dereliction of duty as a public official.
I think it is very IRRESPONSIBLE for Vath to conceal his whereabouts and why he isn’t attending meetings. I agree that maybe he should be declared awol and appoint a substitute in his place. A commissioner is elected and paid to do a job–this sounds like he’s avoiding having to vote on sensitive issues for his own personal reasons—we don’t need someone like that in office. Or, he could be ill. If he’s ill, he should say so. All of it just makes him look suspicious.
Ralph Belcher says
I hope Ron is doing well, and that he’s not ill. It just causes more curiosity as to the reason for his absence. If he’s sick – say so… handling the matter in this way leads to all kinds of speculation with the apparent evasive manner this is handled, not answering questions.
ART WOOSLEY says
Ralph, It is refreshing to see someone with the “intestinal fortitude” to attach their name to what they write, unlike the two writers that preceeded you, who more often than not, enjoy taking cheap shots at others while safely hiding behind an alias.
I join with you in wishing Ron well, and hope he will return soon, he has given us many years of thoughtful leadership, and also brought much needed clarity of thinking to our city government,
While like most, one seldom agrees with every decision made, however, with Ron there was little doubt that he has always been the point person in looking out for the “conservative” financial well being of our city, this always became so much more evident during budget preperation, and hearings etc.
In addition he brought with him a good knowledge and understanding, of most of the large projects related to our cities infrastructure water /sewer etc. saving money on lengthy studies or consultants fees.
Both ( financial responsibility & infrastructure knowledge) are very important traits to have in a commissioner, traits which often can appear somewhat absent in the majority makeup of our present commission.
So in short we wish you well Ron, but get back soon your city needs you !
Commissioner Vath should answer the routine questions that are being asked of him, but, elaygee and tulip, simply stepping back to handle personal matters is not a dereliction of duty. It becomes a dereliction when the City Commission cannot conduct business without him, and there are parliamentary (my favorite subject when watching C-Span) methods of doing so. It is infuriating when an elected official missuses the opportunities of their office, but it is saddening when commentaries on public officials cease to look beyond the apparent and only remark on what they can see.
Cut the crap, he gave up much of his “right” to have “personal business” when he decided to become a public official if that business prevents him from fulfilling his obligation to this city. Your duty to this city trumps your personal life, if you’re not ok with that and want the privacy a regular citizen enjoys, then resign.
This may be a warranted absence, but if it is the people who elected you have a RIGHT TO KNOW why you are not doing the job they sent you there to do.
Mr. Woosley you can paint Vath as a Saint or even Jesus if you choose but regardless of how good he is (debatable for sure but that’s another story entirely) he is utterly worthless if he is not on the commission doing his job.
To the Flagler Beach Commission, you are a bunch of cowards. Hold each other accountable! Your duty is to this city not to each other, stop the back scratching. If it’s a legitimate reason we should know why, if it’s not then he has obviously decided his personal life is more important than the service to our city and needs to leave. Yes, shocking I know, service to your community requires sacrifice. Step up and do your job.
Kip Durocher says
ART WOOSLEY – smile on my name is here also
I think the State’s Attorney in Jacksonville should be notified of his absence first thing Thursday Morning. The Flagler Beach Police should attempt to contact him and find out why he is not attending meetings. If they can not then he is moving in to the area of public law that I believe is called misfeasance and malfeasance in public. As I say the authority on this matter would be the State’s Attorney’s Office. It is inexcusable to be absent when a new city manager is being hired.
Unlike Mr. Woosley, I have failed to notice Mr Vath’s ” good knowledge and understanding” on any issues in my 20 years here. He has always been divisive, argumentative and I think it is time for him to go. We shall know soon if it is via the voters or the State’s Attorneys Office. It is sad that Mr. Fiend abets him in his violation of the city charter. Let him make his own excuses Mr. Fiend. It may be time for you to go also as I have not seen much of your wonderful guidance at city business.
HEY HE IS GONE THANK GOD!!!!!.LOOK LIKE THE CITY IS STILL GOING THE END OF THE WORLD DID NOT HAPPEN EVERY THING IS GOING REAL GOOD WITH OUT HIM. SO HE MUST NOT OF BEEN RUNNING THE SHOW AFTER ALL .I DO NOT THINK HE IS REALY MISSED BY ANYONE !!!!!!!!
Kip Durocher says
3:06 p.m. Thurday, September 2. Just left the flager Beach Commission Chambers. No Ron Vath and no evident telepone contact system. What now – do we all just bury our heads in the sand and pertend all is ok? Or is the matter referred to the State’s Attorney Office?
John Smith says
Well after todays meeting being missed it is evident that the city commission is intimidated by Ron Vath. It is evident that they are covering for him so when he comes back from his job hunting he may return to his being the BIG BULLY in Flagler Beach that he is.
Hey people, remember “The Tonight Show”, Here’s Johnny? Lets move Foward to Flagler “Where’s Ronnie?” Mr. Vath has been somehow “elected” as a City Commisioner, but Come Out, Come Out, Where ever YOU are Mr. Vath The most Important issues Regarding City Government are being brought up and Voted On from new City Mgr. to Budget Changes and Low and Behold You are NO Where to be Found! Geewiz, Can ANYONE Prove that Mr. Vath is Bedridden and Unable to Attend Such crucial Meetings or Would the Average Moron Go as Far To Defend This Elected Official for his Inability to Attend these meetings Due to “Personal Reasons”? Does the Word “INVESTIGATION” Ring a Bell ? Lets Use a Little Common Sense: City Commisioners Son in Law, Just Arrested for Grand Theft over $400,000 and Counting.Locals Ripped Off and the Total ? Not Known Yet. Name of Company, “BOVA” We morons think the BO stands for The son in Laws Last Name, “Boback” The “VA” Stands for “VATH” The FatherinLaws Last Name, low and behold we have come up with the name, “BOVA” Construction Co. Might Just be our Imagination, but there are Many of us that think If Mr. Vath Returns, wich We Dought!! He may want to move on as soon as possible, to Avoid Any Future Humiliation he could Possibley due to His Family, Let alone His Peers at the City. Remember what We Said months Ago, Dont Go Away mad Ron, Just Go Away!! Thank You For Listening, We DONT Miss YOU At ALL!!!!!! Its a Blessing!!!!
Linda Morgan says
Wow, a lot of the commenters should have either a filter, so we don’t have to read your every thought, or a neutral friend, who might edit and detox your message a bit. Ron Vath has served us well and has shown foresight in his thinking and action. I hope he returns and stays.
Kip, You may want to spend more time at these meetings, sitting in the front row for ten minutes does not give you the needed information to comment..
Kip Durocher says
Dear MJ, what ever that may stand for, I find it difficult to believe it is your name. I had no idea there were people of your caliber timing what other citizens do or do not do. How many folks do you spy on? Do you work for a government agency?
I only went to see for myself if Ron Vath was present at the meeting. My 10 minutes gave me all the information that I needed to conclude the fact that he was not there. I am not commenting on anything other than the fact that he was not at another official meeting.
“Feind didn’t explain. He said only that a commissioner’s unexcused absence for three consecutive meetings would result in that commissioner forfeiting his seat. That’s in the city charter. So Feind asked that commissioners excuse Vath’s absence.”
I do not believe that this action was legal – making excuses for someone who is not in attendance.
It is now time to refer this matter to the State’s Attorneys and Governor’s Offices as he has given no excuse to his lack of attendance to the Board while they are in open session, via letter or phone call.
John Smith says
Question??? Does anyone know if a citizen can report this to the state and get things started or does it take someone from the commission and we know how that will be. If a citizen can do this then lets get a group together
Kip Durocher says
anyone can file a claim – here is the website
Jackie Mulligan says
After reading Flagler Live and the hateful emails directed at Rom Vath, I feel compelled to comment.
I have known the Vath family( the entire family) for over 40 years.
I have lived in Flagler Beach for over 28years and this type of anger is not new to the city, but it is certainly uncalled for.
I have been attending city meeting for almost all of those years and served as a commissioner for 2 years,so I am not new to this arena.
I have agreed with some decisions that Ron and other commissioners have made and disagreed with others and stood up at meetings and let my feelings be known to all, not hiding behind an anonymous email name.
Please stop this nonsense and try to remember not to attack when you do not have all the facts.Back biting and character assassination is totally uncalled for , it is cowardly.
John Smith says
Well Jackie evidently you must have been gone the meetings that I have attended. You say you attended all of the meetings hum. The only time I have seen you there is when there is a real estate problem. People are just tired of Rons trying to run the show not his family but Ron who is the problem. He wants to do all his power playing so where is he at, at this time of the budget and city manager selection. Oh thats right the White House called to the White House for his budgetary skills.