Extent of missing items, including $8,000-plus in cash, understated by city manager
Headline Surfer video and photos by Henry Frederick / Citizen watchdog Bob Tolley, shown here in the near photo and in the video, puts City Manager Pam Brangaccio, shown at far left with Assistant City Manager Khalid Resheidat, on the defensive over her handling of the release of information on the polie force missing money scandal during the City Commission meeting Tuesday night. Below, the city commissioners said little with the exception of Mayor Adam Barringer who, like Brngaccio just beforehand, sarcastically challenged Tolley to file another ethics complaint.
NEW SMYRNA BEACH -- City Manager Pam Brangaccio, Mayor Adam Barringer, Commissioners Judy Reiker, Jack Grasty, Jason McGuirk and Kirk Jones were in a jovial mood at the beginning of Tuesday night's commission meeting at the New Smyrna Beach City Hall.
But the collective smiles were wiped off their faces when citizen watchdog Bob Tolley, took them to task during the citizens participation segment of the sparsely attended meeting over the way the city manager handled release of information on the police scandal.
In fact, there were only a dozen people in the commisssion chambers, including the newly-hired police chief, the former interim police chief and members of the media -- The Daytona Beach News-Journal and the weekly Hometown News, along with Headline Surfer, though only the 24/7 internet newspaper is reporting the news today.
Tolley, who, in recent months has already filed a series of complaints against Brangaccio and Barringer on with the Florida Commission on Ethics on other matters, didn't mince words in his appearance before them Tuesday night regarding the damage control by the city manager related to the theft of money and other items from the police evidence room.
Tolley spoke during the citizens participation, during which the city manager and the mayor became defensive while not addressing the issues at hand.
The citizen watchdog said it wasn't the investigation itself that he had questions about as much as the way the information was released and what he believed was conflicting figures given to the elected commissioners with by senior staff.
The initial figure of $1,220 was what was released in a press release by the city, though as it turns out $8,070.50 in cash is unaccounted for in official reports done by an outside consultant last fall and a subsequent report of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
"I'm very angry you were not in the loop," Tolley said, adding, "I don't want to even look at staff because we know how that game is played."
Then looking at the 3 minute allotment ticking down, Tolley looking for answers from the stone-faced commissioners and mayor, added, "I've got a minute-and-a-half. I'll hang out."
Barringer then shot back, "Go right ahead."
There was silence until Commissioner Jones pointed out he was told the lesser figure only to learn later in Headline Surfer's story the higher amount.
Jones, who took office in January, following his outright primary win over two fellow challengers, said he was was still learning the process and asked if perhaps there had been a gag order.
Brangaccio, who sat slumped in her chair aware that a video camera was recording the exchange, told Jones, "I'm happy to discuss it privately, but I won't discuss it with you publicly."
Her comment drew snickers from two people sitting in the back of the room.
Then City Attorney Frank Gummey jumped in before Jones could get another word in, stating, "Mr. Mayor, there was a criminal investigation. Those were not public."
But what the city's $215,000 salaried attorney left out of his comment was the fact that the FDLE report had been completed already, and therefore all of the figures cited in the invgestigation were a matter of public record.