By Marc Crail
Mount Dora City Council Member, District 4
I'm happy to give you this update on the April Mount Dora City Council Special Meeting. I am just one of seven city council members and not its spokesman. I selected 3-4 items covered at the meeting and briefly report on them for your information. I try to be unbiased in my reports, but what you're receiving is strictly from my perspective.
About a year ago we hired the law firm of Stenstrom, McIntosh, Cobert and Whigham as our City Attorney. One of their lawyers, Lonnie Groot is board certified in the area of City, County and Local Government Law. Because of his certification Mr. Groot became our main attorney backed up by the other lawyers in the firm.
Last summer a formal complaint was filed by Public Works Director John Peters and similar less formal complaints were voiced by City Clerk Gwen Johns and Police Chief John O'Grady regarding harassment on the part of Attorney Groot. In accordance with City Policy, an investigation was conducted by an independent labor law attorney. The investigator concluded that Mr. Groot had violated City policy.
The question before City Council tonight was what to do in response to the conclusions of the investigation.
I was proud of the tone of tonight's meeting and impressed by the honest but respectful discussion on the part of every City Council member. Each member presented his/her opinions and offered his/her best thinking on this troubling situation. There was also plenty of opportunity for members of the public to comment as well.
Long story made short; after a couple of hours of discussion the consensus reached was that we will retain the Stenstrom, McIntosh, Cobert and Whigham law firm without any further direct involvement by Mr. Groot in Mount Dora city business. Then final vote was 6 to 1 with Cal Rolfson voting no.
I appreciated that City Council and our City Manager clearly stated that we demand that each of our city employees be treated with respect and that every employee should feel free to voice their concerns without fear of retaliation. Our employees are valued and are our biggest assets.
Consider this quote from Alexander Den Heijer: "When a flower doesn't bloom, you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower."
As usual, thanks for the opportunity to serve our great community!
bY Marc Crail
District 4 City Council Rep.
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