Sid Nowell (1950-2019) broke barriers for local black attorneys, served as a Bunnell city attorney for eight years, as the NAACP’s attorney and former Sheriff Manfre’s attorney, coaching, serving on boards and presiding over the Flagler County Bar Association along the way.
Sheriff’s deputies and other employees have been without a serious raise in five years and the sheriff and union are at a negotiating impasse, but both sides are attempting to reach agreement on a small prize: a 1 percent raise the county commission pledged employees this year.
Ex-finance director Linda Bolante’s lawsuit focuses on dining and entertainment expenses Flagler Sheriff Jim Manfre had to pay back after charging an agency credit card, following which, according to Bolante, she was forced to resign. The Sheriff’s Office “vigorously disputes” the claim that the two occurrences were related.
While increasing rent a modest 3%, John C. Bills Properties told the Sheriff’s Office this month that its CAM fee would increase from $420 a month to $1,313 a month, and that the fee would be retroactive to January, adding another $5,400 charge, which a sheriff’s attorney finds inappropriate.
A law firm that includes Tom Feeney, the ex-Florida House speaker and congressman who landed on a watchdog’s list as one of the 20 most corrupt congressmen four years running, is among the candidates for Bunnell City Atttorney, as is the firm that has been representing Flagler Beach since 2008.
The $24,000 July bill from City Attorney Lonnie Groot and his firm amounts to almost half the city’s entire annual budget for legal services. Groot and commissioners said the fee is the result of several high-profile cases, but commissioners and staff alone rang up $7,363 in billable hours.
Sid Nowell, citing health and other matters, will formalize his resignation at the Bunnell City Commission meeting Monday evening, giving Commissioner Eklbert Tucker a new opening to hire Lonnie Groot as his replacement–a move Tucker said he intends to make.
Bunnell City Manager Armando Martinez survived getting fired on a 3-2 vote, with the unexpected support of one of his harshest former critics: Commissioner Bill Baxley, who was sworn in earlier this month on a promise of change.
Bunnell voted to open its government meetings with one or more prayers, an idea proposed by Commissioner Elbert Tucker. The city attorney offered cautionary guidance rather than objections.
Even though it’s a personal matter to the manager, the Bunnell City Commission agreed to use its city attorney, at $145 an hour, to seek out a state Attorney General’s opinion on whether Manager Armando Martinez may serve as a reserve cop elsewhere.