Big Fat Liar!

Eric Haines must have a bet with someone about how many lies he can cram into a certain time frame. Last weekend, I got a copy of an email from internally in the ECSO. It was sent 3/16/18 at 4:41 pm. Literally, the last minute of the business week. It reads:

Sat Mar 17 2018 18_45_31 GMT-0500Sat Mar 17 2018 18_44_42 GMT-0500

I received this and immediately asked Commissioner Jeff Bergosh what fell apart. He had no idea Haines had sent this email, nor was he ever contacted to say that something was wrong. The BOCC ratified and signed an agreement sent to them by Haines and Champagne. Nothing was changed after that. There is even proof in this PNJ article:

Escambia County and Sheriff David Morgan reach preliminary budget agreement

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Five months after Sheriff David Morgan appealed his budget to Gov. Rick Scott’s office, the Escambia County Commission has voted 3-2 on a preliminary budget settlement.

The budget settlement is a four-year agreement that will implement a pay plan for deputies that will increase the sheriff’s budget by $1 million this year and pay the Sheriff’s Office $2.6 million each year for the next two years. The final year of the agreement would provide the Sheriff’s Office with $2.9 million

Morgan filed an appeal in October to the governor’s office asking for more than $2 million in additional funds for the 2017-2018 fiscal year to address pay compression issues that he said are causing his office to lose deputies faster than they can be replaced.

Funding for the agreement will come from cuts to outside agencies. Funding for outside agencies, except for Pathways for Change and Community Health Northwest Florida, will be cut by 50 percent. An additional $125,000 will come each year from the commissioners’ discretionary fund, which represents a reduction of 50 percent to discretionary funds.

The commission voted on the mediation agreement after a closed-door, attorney-client session Thursday morning.

The agreement will still have to be ratified with an formal interlocal agreement between the Sheriff’s Office and the county. The changes to the budget will also have to be approved with budget amendment votes.

“We are encouraged by the progress to properly compensate our deputies,” ECSO Chief Deputy Eric Haines said to the News Journal in a written statement. “Until the final agreement is signed by the BOCC, we feel it is inappropriate to discuss the details of the settlement.”

Commissioner Lumon May wanted to postpone the vote until it was clear how much each outside agency would lose in funding. He added 30 minutes was not enough time to debate a measure that would commit millions of dollars.

A list of 16 outside agencies was attached to the mediation agreement. The list included groups from the Pensacola-Escambia Economic Development Commission to United Way. The agencies were allocated a total of $1.3 million from the county, but it was unclear how much funding, if any, each agency could lose.

According to the county’s adopted budget, the county allocated $1.68 million to outside agencies.

The agreement limits funding for outside agencies in future years to $734,374.

May asked County Attorney Alison Rogers if the attached list was the complete list of affected outside agencies, and she said she did not know.

“That’s valid enough to postpone this vote, Mr. Chairman,” May said. “For the record, your legal counsel has told you, she’s not clear on it, but you’re still going to vote on it.”

Commission Chairman Jeff Bergosh said the agreement is a step forward but will require tough decisions.

“None of this is easy, and there’s a give and a take,” Bergosh said.

Commissioner Steven Barry said the agreement removes the right of the board to set the county’s budget and he was concerned about the language dealing with the law enforcement trust fund.

“The language referencing the LETF funds says ‘if possible’ and ‘when feasible,'” Barry said. “That’s a win on a relatively small dollar amount per year. We’re giving somebody else the authority to not just fund them, but to have another constitutional (officer) to have direct control over the way that we prepare the budget.”

The law enforcement trust fund is made up of money seized by police from suspected criminal activity and can vary in amount from year to year. In the last three years, the balance has swung from $342,000 to $746,000.

Commissioner Grover Robinson said he would do everything he could to support continuing to fund outside agencies any way he could.

“This is an agreement that moves us forward,” Robinson said. “Nothing happens until we have a final document here. I think there is merit in us moving this forward and still evaluating where we go. I think the people want to see us trying to negotiate through this. I don’t disagree, gentleman, with what y’all have problems with in here.”

Commissioner Doug Underhill said the board showed leadership by cutting their discretionary funds, but said he expected commissioners to get calls from the outside agencies facing cuts.

“The only answer to that is, is your budget more important than public safety in Escambia County, and obviously the answer to that is going to be no,” Underhill said. “Most of them will recognize that these are tight times, and we’re tightening our belts.”

Underhill said the only other option was to raise taxes, which, he said, nobody wants.

“We are moving away from that kind of personality-based politics and more toward policy and procedure-based governance,” Underhill said. “It took a lot of courage. I’m in a campaign this year, and so is Grover. And both of us voted for something that’s going to be unpopular with a lot of people. I think that says a lot for the type of government we have now here in Escambia County.”

Jim Little can be reached at jwlittle@pnj.com and 850-208-9827.

Even Underling leaves the table saying this is resolved to both sides satisfaction. Haines, Underhill, Champagne aka Team Morgan are all fine, but when it comes times for Hefe Morgan to sign on the dotted line after his representatives, Jack Brown, Alison Rogers and the commissioners, he refuses to sign.

An internal source at the ECSO claims Morgan never agreed to the 50% of the LET funds going towards SRO’s. That was the deal breaker. However, Haines goes to painstaking, agonizing levels to say that it was all these other issues in a video he does this past week full of charts. He goes on a 30 minute diatribe of how the county wants to “SCREW” the deputies. One absolutely false statement was that Henrique Dias was part of the negotiations leading up to the signing of the Interlocal Agreement. Henrique Dias has not been at work, or in Pensacola even for at least 6 weeks. Why would he chime in yet his name never appear anywhere at the 11th hour but not resume his duties as the CFO in this arrangement?  After all, Haines only took this position in negotiating because Dias was MIA.  He would be the one to argue the numbers being that he is the CFO and the Svengali of this chaos.

Putting aside the absolute ridiculousness & lies of this video, Rick Outzen even points out in an article titled “Is the BCC-ECSO Mediation Agreement Binding?”,

…However, the question is the mediation agreement binding. The mediation agreement only had one contingency -“3) This Agreement is contingent upon approval by the Board of County Commissioners.”

Outzen had another article in which he quoted Amber Southard as saying, “the mediation is a two-phase process that the ECSO considers the mediation agreement an ‘agreement in principal’ and  ‘then the Interlocal agreement is definitive.'”

This is the press release from Hefe Morgan on the 19th,

“The attempt to resolve the budget appeal through mediation appears to have been unsuccessful.

“Based on communication after the mediation, the BOCC staff wants to include any future contributions or cost increases to Worker’s Compensation, Unemployment Compensation, Florida Retirement System, and Health Care, as part of what was agreed to as a salary fix.

“The BOCC will be free to increase their own subsidies and the other constitutional officer’s subsidies over the next three years while keeping the Sheriff’s Office at current levels. There would be no way to project what an employee’s salary would be in three years if subsidy increases have to come out of the salary dollars.

“We cannot go into the details of the mediation per a confidentiality agreement. More work was to be done to flesh out the details of the Mediation Settlement as evidenced the BOCC’s County Attorney (who was present during the mediation) drafting a more detailed Interlocal Agreement that was sent to us last week for review and input. There now seems to be some internal conflict between the Commissioners concerning the agreement.

“In addition, the BOCC is now attempting to unilaterally define the Mediation Settlement by casting aside the more detailed draft Interlocal Agreement. We asked the BOCC to join a conference call with the mediator on Friday to clarify the issues. They declined.

“If the Commissioners are now being told that the mediation settlement was always meant to be the final language in the Interlocal Agreement, we would encourage them to individually and directly contact the mediator for clarification of that point.

“We will not accept any settlement that prevents the full implementation of the salary study or fails to correct the gross underfunding of ECSO salaries. We are fully confident that when the facts are presented to the Governor that he will decide in the ECSO’s favor.

“We are attaching the working copy of the Interlocal Agreement that was abandoned by the BOCC. Their initial draft is in black. Our additions and clarifications are in red.”

Everything points to everyone except Morgan on the same page until Friday afternoon. If the reasons they point out were not the REAL issues as all indicators suggest (no balking up until the last minute),  what could be the reason?  Again internally, it is said to be the LET caveat. Morgan doesn’t want his promised political money touched. That seems to be the best explanation offered.

On Friday,  Jeff Bergosh posted on his blog a story that illustrates the facts of what happened concisely. It reads (along with comments):

Haggling over that Brand New Truck…..

What would you think of a dealership that, after haggling back and forth over price with you and agreeing to a $50,000.00 “out the door” deal for your new truck–tried to change the price back to $54,999.99 at document signing???

The Dealership wants the absolute top-dollar for the shiny brand new truck.

The customer realizes the value of the truck, likes the product, does his research, does his homework, figures out what a fair price is, and he goes to the dealership–because he needs a new truck.

The buyer arrives on the lot and spots the brand-new, fire-engine red full-sized pickup he wants.  Shortly thereafter, a salesman arrives.

The buyer takes a test drive, looks the truck up and down, and looks at the sticker knowing he cannot and will not pay that full retail cost of $55,000.00–because that price is an inflated price and other dealerships have sold similar trucks for around $50,000.00.

“Are you willing to make a deal on this truck–are you the decider on the price?”  the buyer asks.

“Absolutely–make me an offer!”  says the salesman.

“I’ll give you $45,000.00  total today–in cash, out the door” says the buyer.

“Okay, I’ll see if I can go that low, I’ll go run some numbers with the sales manager” The salesman states.  A few minutes later, the salesman returns, and he looks the buyer in the eyes and says “We can’t go $45,000.00–but we can make a deal at $50,000.00.”

“Out the door?” asks the buyer

“Out the door” states the salesman

“You’ve got a deal–$50,000.00 out the door!” says the buyer.  As the salesman and the buyer exchange a firm handshake and look each other in the eye, the buyer says “I’m going home to get the cash, my wife will have to approve this but she wants this truck more than I do, so you have a deal!”  Excitedly the buyer heads home to get the $50K.  On the way out the door, he calls out to the salesman “Get it prepped and gassed I’ll be back in half an hour!”

Upon his return, with his wife and a shoebox full of $100.00 dollar bills totalling $50,000.00 in tow–the salesman ushers the couple into a cramped cubicle….

“Here’s the $50k, where do I sign?” asks the buyer.

“Okay, well about that deal………our finance guy has been out for awhile, and the manager has overruled my deal–you see, we need to charge you for tag, title, fees, underbody rust protection, gap insurance, roadside assistance and also the dealer prep fees”

“Okay–I get that” says the buyer–“Subtract that out of the total and balance the deal at $50,000.00–because we made a deal–$50,000.00 cash out the door—we shook on that!”

“I’m sorry sir, the manager told me to tell you NO” said the salesman looking down, not making eye-contact…. “but here is some good news–once we add in the items I’ve been told MUST be added back, your new total price is only…..$54,999.99″  Now, do you want to start re-negotiating, I can go get my manager, we can take all that cash and work out some new terms for the difference……”

“Wow–are you serious?!?”  Says the buyer.  “I don’t want to re-negotiate, I want this truck for the price you and I agreed on and shook on–because that is the honorable way to negotiate!”

“I’m sorry sir,  the manager won’t let me honor our deal” says the salesman looking straight down at the floor.  “I’m really sorry…”

“You ARE SORRY, and Your dealership IS SORRY!” says the buyer

8 comments:

Eric Haines said…

To continue the story, the salesman, who had been burned by this customer before, was smart enough to have had the conversation in front of an independent third party who could, through a phone call, confirm that the agreed upon price specifically didn’t include the tax, tag, title, and insurance and that those issues were to be worked out in the finance officer’s office. He also had another, more informed, more influential buyer in Tallahassee, that in a few short months would likely buy the truck for full price on a payment plan. In addition, the truck was necessary to provide vital services to the public and should have been purchased years ago. Only a year ago the buyer had said he had no money at all for a truck and would for 2 years, but now, 9 months later, he had $50k to buy a truck.

The buyer was pretty upset when he later found out that the salesman had in actuality only been looking at the floor in disappointment at the predictability of the customer. He immediately held his head high and called the customer in Tallahassee as he could care less what this local customer thought about him. He knew that the customer’s Yelp reviews were rarely looked at in high esteem as they were usually twisted and exaggerated.

Jimmie Lee Staley said…

And that Chief Deputy Nonsense, is Nonsense. This stage is open for all to see. Your agency’s actions don’t jive with your words. You cannot change that. What was said and what was done are left to history. No spin from you or Hefe Morgan is going to make this look like anything but what it was….re-neg. Pure and simple…

Anonymous said…

I love the stories. Why don’t you just go to the Governor anyway?

Anonymous said…

I guess this is inside baseball. Though it is quite funny. My take on this is this, So there is a deal, but the owner (Mr. Dupe the Welsh) of the dealership had cold feet and the salesman really did not have authority to sign the contract, so Dupe the Welsh, well, Welshed. And Dupe the Welsh thinks his daddy, who owns another, bigger dealership in Tallahassee, is going to buy the truck at full retail with Uncle Sam III’s money. Unfortunately for Dupe the Welsh, everybody knows how much he hoodwinks and fleeces everyone as his dealership falls apart. Even Tallahassee daddy knows Dupe the Welsh is a con and refuses to reward Dupe the Welsh, well, for his welsh and doesn’t buy the truck. Tallahassee daddy tells Dupe the Welsh to keep the truck and try to sell it next year. Of course, everyone hates Dupe the Welsh, especially all of his beleaguered salesmen who missed out on additional salaries from the signed deal Dupe the Welsh, well, welshed. Dupe the Welsh, who is getting long in the tooth, retires and only one year later, no one remembers him, ever. A new owner comes to power, one who is reasonable, a former salesman and mentally stable who keeps his word. The dealership thrives, car sales increase, car salesmen make money and the world returns to normal.

Anonymous said…

I don’t know why anyone is surprised about this at all. This is Haines and Morgan’s MO. They mislead the public with fake data and string along the employees with visions of grandeur that never happen. This moronic response from the Chief Deputy of a large law enforcement agency should enlighten the public to the toxic style of leadership running the Sheriff’s Office. I have tried to approach this with an open mind, but when one side sends in the incompetent second string to negotiate knowing it would be rejected, I can only shake my head in dismay. In a radio interview Haines said the county had duped them before, well I remember the jail negotiations so the Sheriff seems to be leading in that category now. The Sheriff needs to stop bullying his way to Tallahassee and grow a set. Negotiate in good faith and do the right thing for the deputies. If the Governor sides for the Sheriff now after receiving an offer of $9 Mil over three or four years, then we are all in trouble because Morgan is unstoppable. For God sake don’t let Haines talk for you. Oh yes and Jeff, you really need to tone it down. It is obvious that the issue you are most vocal about are personal and not for the good of the public.

Anonymous said…

I have tried to have an open mind also. I think it boils down to most on the BCC think the sheriff could have given raises with his budget as it was. Perhaps, because the position of sheriff is a direct constitutional officer it is not good practice in Florida since there are really not the correct checks and balances of power like the board, although that is definitely a struggle for funds there also. I think with social media as it is, things have changed as far as the original intent of secret ballots, representative democracy and honoring the system. People always disagreed in the past and the vote was a balance of power with out all the haggling and discussion. The vote was done and it was over, end of deal. Perhaps the idea of a having the board go through a Public Information Officer and release things to a respected press would be better all in all for the board. Look at Facebook..What a disaster..politics and government all co mingled. Unsavory at times..

Anonymous said…

Anonymous10:42 Hopefully the baseball fans of Dupe the Welsh are left standing there looking stupid and wondering why everybody else saw this and bet on the other teams and they were left holding the ball. But you are probably right the new former sales man will come along and soon most will all be eating peanuts and cracker jacks in the stands again. But some good may have come out of watching the game. Time wounds all heels.

Anonymous said…

How were you duped? Sounds to me like you overloaded your arrogant backside. How can you and the Sheriffs Attorney sign the document after sitting through negotiates, leave the meeting and then cry that you were duped ? Appears to me you went back to your boss with the done deal and he didn’t like the deal you made. In order to save face with your boss and the employees you had to cry “they duped us” . You and the Attorney need to be replaced.

I think that says it all.  Morgan backed out because his minions didn’t get it right.  What a good leader? Why wasn’t he involve in the drafting of the Interlocal Agreement? Arrogance? Or was he and he was asleep at the wheel?

Ethics, Schmethics

Last week Commissioner Doug Underhill was cleared in his ethics complaint by the Florida Ethics Commission. They did not find anything unethical in a representative of a county, a public servant, asking for hand outs from his constituency for a defamation suit, resulting from talking smack about a political opponent.  In the most bizarre stretch of the tenants of ethics, there is nothing, even remotely, of which resonates this as an  ethical decision.  The taxpayers did not make the comments for which the Commissioner was sued over, nor would any greater good benefit anyone but the mouthy Commissioner.

So I did some research into who is making the decisions of ethics in the state of Florida.  What I found explains everything.

Before going into the composition of the commission,  here is what their statement of purpose is:

The Commission is created by Sections 112.320 and 112.321, Florida Statutes, and is
governed by Article II, Section 8(f) and (h), Florida Constitution, which authorizes it to investigate complaints alleging breach of the public trust by public officers and employees.

They also have the authority to:

  • Investigate complaints alleging possible violations of the Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees , to accept referrals from the Governor, State Attorneys, U.S. Attorneys, or the Florida Department of Law Enforcement ,
  • Render opinions about the applicability of the Code of Ethics to investigate and render opinions about possible violations of the standards of conduct for members of the Public Service Commission and the Public Service Commission Nominating Council to investigate and render opinions about possible unlawful use of public funds to lobby ,
  •  Grant a hearing on the petition of a public officer or employee who has been accused of a possible violation of the Code of Ethics to investigate complaints from the Comptroller of possible misuse of State vehicles  to register executive branch lobbyists, receive their compensation reports,
  • Investigate and render opinions concerning possible violations of the lobbyist law, and review and waive in whole or part late filing penalties for executive branch lobbyists to promulgate and disseminate forms for complying with the financial disclosure laws and other provisions of the Code of Ethics  to grant extensions of time for filing disclosures to receive and file financial disclosure, gift disclosure, and honorarium event-related expenses disclosure forms  to review and waive in whole or part late filing penalties for persons filing financial disclosures,
  • Garnish wages or initiate wage withholding for persons who fail to pay their financial disclosure fine and to investigate officials who fail to file entirely,
  • Impose costs and attorney’s fees on complainants who filed complaints with a malicious intent to injure the public official’s reputation ,
  • Serve as a clearinghouse for possible forfeiture of retirement benefits by public officers and employees who have committed felonies involving a breach of the public trust ,
  • Seek to void contracts violative of the Code of Ethics, to adopt procedural rules and rules interpreting the ethics laws , and to recommend that the Governor enforce the ethics laws in court .

This is what the Florida Ethics Commission has the power to do.

The people who have this expansive power are a collective group composed in accordance with the Florida Statutes. The intent of how the commission is filled is supposed to negate any alliance or political manipulations. If this collection of people are not politically connected to anyone, they stay objective–in theory.

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The above graphic shows the 8 people on the Ethics Commission. My question was if any of these fine people had a political dog in this decision with Mr. Underhill.

First off, 5 of the 8 went to the famous Levin Law School,  Michelle Anchors, Jason Berger, Guy Norris, Matthew Carson & Kimberly Bonder Rezanka.  Michelle Anchors was appointed by Don Gaetz. 

Those two names, Levin & Gaetz tell you all you need to know about this commission.  Five members of the panel are at the dispose of political sway of Levin. One has Levin & Gaetz. Dr. Brady has a special interest in keeping Escambia County happy because of PACE Center for Girls. Morgan has funded that to the hilt with the LET money. Who wouldn’t be swayed by that?

In just this bit of research, 6 of the 8 Florida Ethics Commission members show that, unless either Morgan or Underhill is screwing a goat in town square, they will turn a blind eye. Their political careers depend on it.

Doug Underhill: Captain Contrary

Thursday’s vote by the BOCC to require 50% of LET Funds to be used for school security had only one dissent, Captain Contrary, aka Doug “Underling” Underhill. Quelle surprise!

Dougie likes to say he is for “a new way of thinking” in Escambia County, but actions pack a stronger punch. His actions are in support of GOB. He voted the crony line without a legitimate or reasonable rationale. How is protecting our kids not in the best interest of the county?  Captain Contrary believes we should not protect kids but instead,  help the public image of the ECSO.  WTF?

There is no legitimacy to the open cronyism shown in this vote. Those of us who pay attention see the pattern. If Bergosh votes for it, Underhill will vote against it. It doesn’t even matter what the issue is, Underhill has to back his political Godfather, Sir David.  It is blatantly obvious the county’s best interest is lost to the Morgan-Underhill alliance.

I will acknowledge that I have no love for Morgan and Underhill, but it is clear that over the past 5+ years, my message has been consistent–there is soul-sucking corruption in Escambia County and it begins at the ECSO & Sir David.

I have been labeled a “lunatic”,”lone nut” and even a “political terrorist” by the Good Ole Boys (Underhill & Morgan). However, over the past few years, we’ve seen Morgan waste countless dollars putting his face on everything from billboards to movie screens. This money did not deter crime nor did it even improve the safety of neighborhoods.  Morgan’s use of county funds has been invariably self-serving. The community sees this.

I have been told this violation of the public’s  trust is NOT, per se, corruption, but I have to disagree. The political capital Morgan reaps is a real thing.  Frequently, I have been contacted by people about Morgan coming into social functions, unannounced, with LET checks. After he makes an entrance, he turns over a check in exchange for envelopes of campaign contributions openly, in front of a room full of people.  Campaign contributions for LET funds. That, my friends, IS corruption. If Underhill does not see the problem with Morgan’s fiscal buffoonery, then he needs an ethics lesson.

Above all, the consensus is that Underhill somehow profits from the back room politics too.  Morgan became a millionaire on the public’s payroll. I suspect Underhill, a contractor/developer and his property appraiser bulldog of a wife, are manipulating things involving the valuation of real estate perhaps. The real puzzle is the facilitation of the Honorable Sheriff to sell his Crow Rd. properties to PCEnvy Technologies, a tech company owned by Underhill’s buddy, Steve Stillwell. What does a tech company do with slumlord properties??

But Captain Contrary will insist there is nothing there to see. Willie Junior said that too, about a pot of collard greens.

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