Sheriff Rick Staly and Clerk of Court Tom Bexley this evening met face to face after an impasse was reached in the standoff over sheriff’s space at the county courthouse, walked around the building together, and resolved the impasse, ending the county’s threat of what would have been a lawsuit costly to taxpayers and, in political capital, to all elected officials involved.
“Apparently neither the clerk nor the sheriff liked your article so they called and decided to meet and independently and by themselves they resolved the impasse,” County Administrator Jerry Cameron said this evening, referring to an earlier FlaglerLive story that described the impasse. By late this afternoon, Cameron had been reporting that the sheriff and Bexley had compromised as much as they were willing to do so, and would not go further. Cameron had informed them that he’d give the county attorney direction to move forward with a lawsuit against Bexley. That did not sit well with either constitutional officer.
Neither had met to discuss the issue face to face before, with Cameron essentially mediating between them. But this evening, Staly and Bexley took matters into their own hands. “They looked at other space that hadn’t been talked about yet but I don’t know exactly what they did,” Cameron said. “I don’t care what the details are. If these two are going to quit fighting and we’re going to move on to other things I’m a happy camper.”
Cameron said he spoke only with Staly, who told him the matter was resolved.
It had taken some brinkmanship on Cameron’s part, but also some 11th-hour initiative on the constitutional officers’ part. “I told both of them that this was out of my hands, now were at an impasse,” Cameron said, “I’d have to notify Al Hadeed that we’re at impasse and we would proceed with his instructions that he got from the board at that same meeting. And he was poised to do that. I actually asked him to hold it off when I found out that they were talking.”
“We have avoided a disaster,” County Commissioner Joe Mullins said. “Jerry told them, he said we’re filing tomorrow so you’ve got to figure this out.”
But the sheriff’s Mark Strobridge, reached at 7:45 p.m., said he was not quite ready to confirm the breakthrough. “I can’t confirm that yet,” he said.
At 8:15 p.m., the sheriff’s office issued a release announcing the resolution. Cameron had spoken of the county as mediating the issue and resolving to move to litigation after the matter reached an impasse. But the release portrays the county as if actively ending negotiations and moving to litigation.
“After the County announced their intention to stop negotiations between the County and the Clerk today and to proceed with litigation, I called Tom and said ‘let’s solve the County’s problem and let’s do it now’ and we did,” Staly is quoted as saying ion the release, which also quotes Bexley: “We went floor by floor and room by room together and identified how we can both best deliver services to our citizens most effectively and efficiently. I was never in favor of spending tax dollars on litigation.”
The release did not include details of the plan, which was still being worked out. “A plan should be brought forward to Flagler County Administrator Jerry Cameron in the coming days,” it stated.
“We do not see bumps in the road in implementing any plan of allocation,” Strobridge said late Thursday evening.
See today’s two previous stories here: