NEW SMYRNA BEACH -- Gene Sheldon, the newest member of the Southeast Volusia Advertising Authority, may be its most controversial and could be its shortest tendered with his brazen email to his colleagues with, "Who is the rat?
In doing so, Sheldon exposed himself and his colleagues to a number of ethical, moral and legal questions. He may have very well sealed his own fate and that's because thew validity of his appointment is expected to come up at the Jan. 9 meeting of the Volusia County Council.
Headline Surfer® spoke with Sheldon at his beachside residence just before Christmas for the Sunday Conversation, the 24/7 internet newspaper's online video newsmaker Q&A.
During the interview, Sheldon made no bones about his disdain for whover was the source of the Dec. 16 Headline Surfer® story, "SE Volusia ad authority's $70,000 exec. director, operations manager & board chair chow down on public dime."
The 24/7 internet newspaper's story detailed unauthorized use of an SVAA credit card by Carl Watson, the ad authority director hired in August, for free lunches for himself, his assistant, Sherry Hendeershot, and board chairman Tom Clapsaddle, totalling $135.73. Plus there was another $673.87 in free lunches charged to the SVAA credit card held by another SVAA employere on Watson's order for 22 members of a bicycle touring group as a thank you for agreeing to participate in a bicycle touring event. Watson and Hendershot paid back the all of the charges, except for the bicycle touring lunch event, after the county's auditors discovered the unaurthorized uses in an October review of the ad authority's expenses.
The Daytona Beach News-Journal, which has had one of its assigned reporters routinely covering the board meetings of the SVAA, followed up with its own story 10 hours later, "Southeast Volusia Ad Authority staffers pay back meals charged in 'mistake."
The News-Journal quoted County Councilwoman Deb Denys as an apologist for Watson, described the siatuation as a "settled matter" asince the charges were paid back and that it was a "transitional matter" by Watson moving from the private to public sector, an assessment scoffed at by County Chair Jason Davis and Palmer Wilson, the former chair of the ad authortity removed an unprecedented second time by Denys in September.
Wilson maintains Denys' push that led to the 4-3 vote in having him removed was done to serve her re-election interests in 2014, something she refuses to talk about.
Denys was vague in the Headline Surfer® story and Watson declined comment altogether.
Sheldon said the matter is closed as far as he's concerned with his overall concern that the SVAA is being looked upon as an "unfriendly" entity to local merchants.