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Bunnell Manager Armando Martinez Forced To Give Up Cop Shield, But Not Extra $7,500 Pay

| January 25, 2011

armando martinez city manager

“I’ll just feel naked without my gun for a while,” Armando Martinez says. (© FlaglerLive)

Bunnell City Manager Armando Martinez will no longer be a law enforcement officer, as he had been for the last two years as city manager—a contractual arrangement that enabled him to earn an extra $7,500 on top of his base $90,000 salary. But Martinez is keeping the extra $7,500 a year.

The Florida Constitution forbids government employees from being public officers in two different jobs at the same time. An article in the News-Journal earlier this month pointed out what appeared to be Martinez’s—or the city’s—constitutional violation, compelling City Attorney Sid Nowell to explore the issue. Martinez argued at the time that he was a police officer but not a public officer.

Skirting the constitutional language, Nowell and Martinez insisted that there was no law forbidding  the dual positions, but both conceded that they were on legally safer ground if Martinez gave up his shield and became a civilian. Nowell said Attorney General’s opinions made clear that the two jobs were incompatible within the purview of a single employee. “My bottom line is, if someone challenged and questioned whether or not the city manager position constituted a public officer, more likely than not, that would be the determination,” Nowell said. “I spoke to Mr. Martinez and I said, I couldn’t in could faith advise him that as a city manager he was not a public officer.”

On Monday, the Bunnell City Commission accepted Martinez’s resignation as a police officer. But the commission increased his base salary by $7,500, essentially nullifying that saving to the city. (The city will realize an eventual saving of some $5,000 that it would no longer have to pay in workers’ compensation costs attached to Martinez’s former law enforcement designation.)

“I don’t want the city and I don’t want me to be in the gray,” Martinez said. “I want us and I want me to be in the black and white. So even though it isn’t law, and it’s not challenged, why stay on the gray?” He said that because of his service to the city, and the work he’d done through the Bunnell Police Department, he asked the city to roll over his $7,500 pay to his regular salary. Earlier in the meeting, Martinez and Police Chief Arthur Jones had choreographed an elaborate award ceremony for several Bunnell police officers for various acts of valor while on duty. The ceremony softened Martinez’s request to the commission, even though there never was a doubt that he would not lose the $7,500. The commission voted 4-1 in favor of the new package, with Commissioner Elbert Tucker in dissent.

One commissioner’s biggest concern was that there would be one less armed man in the room. Civilians are not allowed to carry guns in public buildings. Police officers are. Martinez carried his. “That’s what I have a problem with because I just don’t understand why people would pursue this and the end result would be disarming you,” Jenny Crain-Brady told him. “I just flat have a problem with that.”

She then asked: “Does that mean we will always have a law enforcement officer at our meetings, armed?” Crain-Brady asked.

“Yes,” Martinez said.

But there had almost always been an armed law enforcement officer at the meetings: the chief of police himself, who makes a point of being at most meetings. Jones is often overshadowed by Martinez, who’s commonly believed to call most of the shots in the police department. Martinez will preserve his dual title: city manager and director of public safety. He, too, had misgivings about giving up his gun, at least temporarily. (He may seek to be a reserve officer somewhere, to maintain his certification.)

“I’ll just feel naked without my gun for a while,” Martinez said, “but I’ll need a permit or something.”

“Not something,” Nowell corrected, eliminating still more shades of gray. “You need a permit.”

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11 Responses for “Bunnell Manager Armando Martinez Forced To Give Up Cop Shield, But Not Extra $7,500 Pay”

  1. SAW says:

    Take the $ 7,500 from him and put it into the Carver Gym, or better yet, ask him to donate it to the Gym ?

  2. notasenior says:

    Another in a whole series of embarassments for the City of Bunnell. Shame on them!!!

  3. chiarahall777 says:

    Are they serious? So he is still getting the $7500 roled over to his original job’s salary? Why? Because he asked them? Are you kidding? And he is still carrying a gun without a permit, how is that possible that he isn’t in trouble for that? Regular citizens get arrested for that. I just do not understand how this man is getting away with these things. Can someone please, see the insanity of this and once and for all rectify this mess. It is an embarassment for Bunnell and for law abiding citizens everywhere who struggle on a daily basis, who follow the law and do not try to talk their way around it so it sounds legal. The more stories I hear coming out of there twists my stomach in knots. But I thank FlaglerLive for publishing these stories so that we know what is going on. I cannot imagine what else is going to come out of this town.

  4. Honest Abe says:

    Search “armando martinez miami dade police internal affairs” (his former employer before escaping to Bunnell) and read an article in Miami New Times titled “Rumors Flying Like Bullets”. Rumors or truth???
    If it looks like a snake and hisses like a snake and slithers like a snake…

  5. Just the Facts says:

    The citizens of Bunnell need to oust the current regime..Everyone except Tucker who seems to be the only one who has any conscience or ethics. The local government has totally disregarded the integrity of their public office. It seems that Jimmy Flynt has “allegedly” been spotted answering rotation calls with John Murray who is accused of four different felony charges. That’s rubbing it in the face of the citizens if you ask me.

  6. Sal Pilchard says:

    Hey I would like to have a raise too. The City of Bunnell has deep and dark shadows that need to be brought in the light. This city government is disconnected to the needs of the community. Like many small towns in 21st Century America, Bunnell’s city government is corrupt and believes they above the law. They serve only to power themselves.

    Martinez in my humble opinion is more than a snake in the grass @Honest Abe, he has many undisclosed issues and should return all monies received for his questionably illegal compensation as a law enforcement officer. His action of consenting to receive this compensation speaks volumes about where his true interest lies.

  7. SAW says:

    Great job Mr. Tucker, seems that you may be the only person on that commission using common sense, a very rare commodity these days.

  8. Nero Fiddled..... says:

    For Commissioer Henry to say “well the $7,500 is already in the budget” is the most rediculous comment I’ve heard yet. Take the money and put it into the police department, get the guys out of that mold ridden trailer. Ms. Henry does that mean next October you are going to take it away….I doubt it, it will be swept under the rug like everything else in Bunnell. This City will always be a laughing stock…….always. These so called leaders are true idiots, they have no conception of what it takes to be a leader or to fiscally responsible to the citizens. I agree the only one who has somwhat of a head on his shoulder is Tucker.

  9. What a joke says:

    I was at that meeting but did not stay the entire time. It was a joke from the start with all the attaboys and letting public speakers go on forever. I am looking at my agenda and there is nothing on there about mr martinez’s “raise”. How can the commission vote on a item that is not on the agenda? How can something like this not be noticed for the public? This has to be unethical…this board is a joke.

  10. Jojo says:

    Jobbery combines the sense of job and robbery and reflects the historically negative connotation of job, whose definition may derive from gob, as in “a mass or lump.”

  11. empty pockets says:

    Raises to commissioners, paybacks to those that had vehicles illegally towed, and now this… long before the city runs short on operating money?

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