Palm Coast Street Superintendent Tony Capela had been with the city almost a decade. For the administration, he had become the face–and on occasion the somewhat loud voice–of a take-charge approach to street and swale maintenance, as well as a slew of projects that the city had previously contracted out. He was close to City Manager Jim Landon, who lauded him as a money-saver and an efficient taskmaster, though Capela’s approach also led to an ethics commission complaint against him (it was dismissed) and complaints that he could be too brusque with his employees.
On Friday, Capela resigned unexpectedly at the end of the day. Landon immediately accepted his resignation. By Monday, his presence had vanished from the city’s intranet.
“It’s not unusual with a high-level position to accept a resignation right away,” Cindi Lane, the city’s chief spokesperson, said.
Capela submitted a brief letter of resignation but it had not yet made its way to the city’s central offices Monday morning. “He did not do an exit interview. I don’t think one was planned,” Lane said. (In early afternoon the two-line letter was produced. Capela only says he’s resigning, offering no reason. The document is typed and unsigned.)
Capela, whose salary last June was 86,720, oversaw the largest division in the city’s largest department: streets and drainage, which organizationally falls under the city’s Utilities Department. Capela oversaw some 100 employees. To the city administration’s displeasure, the utilities department’s blue collar workers unionized last July. The city’s firefighters are also unionized.
In mid-2013, the Florida Commission on Ethics investigated Capela after a former employee, Terry Geigert, filed a complaint charging that Capela showed favoritism to RoadTek, a city contractor, by steering contracts to the company and manipulating bid parameters so RoadTek would be sure to get the contracts. The complaint included other allegations, including Capela’s sale of his home to the RoadTek owner for $380,000 in 2009 ($80,000 less than what Capela had paid for it four years earlier) and hiring unqualified personnel.
The commission ruled that even though the charges were not groundless, none of the charges amounted to corruption, nor was Geigert wrongfully terminated.
On the job, Capela, 46, was a results-oriented manager who was able to silence the phones, for instance, at a time when residents were complaining about swales and drainage issues. He had the backing of his direct supervisor–Utilities Director Richard Adams–and completed the sort of jobs the city could showcase, such as additional ball fields at the Indian Trails Sports Complex.
“He was a valuable employee who contributed to the city and made a difference in the organization,” Lane said. “He’ll be missed, and we wish him the best.” But she acknowledged that his resignation was a surprise to the administration. Lane said she was not aware of any issues that may have led to the resignation, and that the division is carrying out its work as usual.
Capela was with Palm Coast since Nov. 6, 2006.
Because of the abruptness of the resignation, there’s been no succession plans yet, though Lane mentioned Mike Marinelli, a public works supervisor, as a go-to person in Capela’s absence.
For the utilities department, Capela’s resignation is the second loss of a top staffer in two weeks. In late December, John Moden, the city’s Engineer and Director of the Engineering and Stormwater Department, announced that he was retiring in early February. Moden has overseen the city’s drainage system for 37 years, going back to his years with the ITT Corporation, which built the development.
Maybe now I will get my swale drained this summer.
Or maybe it will forever remind you that you bought a house in a swamp.
Tom Jacks says
Say what you will, he got caught doing something against city policies, or lost his temper with the wrong person. I have dealt with this man on numerous occasions and all I can say is his resignation (termination) is way overdue. I would guess the public works employees moral just went through the roof.
The Righteous says
He was a bully. His resignation was accepted in exchange for silence. Others will be joining him soon also. Happy job hunting!
Old firefighter says
Ding Dong the witch is gone
Same for us here in the C section as we pay in our utility bills almost $12 a month for “storm water” and these culverts get full of accumulated soil run off with every rain. At least the pipes/culverts under our driveways should be cleaned up with that utility department swale master every other year or so.
One more thing why is that our beacon Palm Coast light on the water tower on I-95 that use to welcome us into Palm Coast is off now? Don’t we pay enough utility fee to keep it lit? Why don’t they use our utility funds and utility reserves for what is intended other than buying overpriced land from significant individuals to benefit wealthy developers projects likeTown Center?
wake up! says
Well we just got an extra 86K in the budget
As someone in the construction industry who had dealings with Tony, I would guess this man bull crapped his way into that position. He had very little knowledge of underground utilities, techniques, or skills.
Jorge A. says
Mr Capella went to Human Resources to try to get two employees fired. They shot his request down. He went off on a senior employee of the HR dept…….. He went to far.
There have been many, many problems in the dept for years, most kept under raps by the city. Lets hire from outside for his replacement.
Knew of Him says
[Comment disallowed, along with two others from same commenter pretending to pose as three different individuals. Please read our commenting policy.–FL]
Yeah Right! says
He always used to say….” This job sucks, until your on the other side of the fence”….
I just hope his partner in crime went down with him…..could not have happened to a nicer guy. Landon should have removed him years ago.
Congrats to all the PCPW crews.
former employee says
Looks like the cities HR department got a first hand look at one of Mr.Capela’s temper tantrums. I could only compare this to a five year old who doesn’t gets his way . I guess your oversized ego and short fuse got the better of you last Friday. Maybe this will give some validation to some of the employee’s complaints about Mr.Caplela. My guess is, if there are any tears being shed at Public works those are tears of JOY !!
Looking at this from the outside and being objective and having over 30 years experience in government, the sale of the home to the contractor is very concerning. It is a conflict of interest. It should not have happended for any price. I doubt that this situation is at an end. Sorry to hear about all this.
What comes around goes around
If he was such a bad guy, how come the charges were dropped against him and he resigned and not fired. He had his ups and downs. There are many disgruntle former employees of the city. I believe alot of them are the ones commenting on here. I am wondering who his “partner” in crime is.