Several weeks ago, we learned through various media reports that a lawsuit had been filed against City of Belle Isle City Manager Richard Anderson, by the victim of a hit and run car accident. Mr. Anderson is also a well-compensated Lobbyist/consultant for the City of Apopka and also draws two excellent pensions from Apopka taxpayers. When he retired in 2014, he also received almost $400,000.00 in compensation. That is a LOT of money for a public servant to receive, courtesy of Apopka City Taxpayers.
In February, after it was disclosed that Mr. Anderson was in fact NOT registered to lobby on behalf of the City (I do believe that situation has since been remedied), and again two weeks ago, after details of an accident involving his Dodge Ram pickup truck, I called on the Apopka City Commission to immediately terminate the 2 year contract Anderson has with the City. Finally, the City of Apopka has come to the same conclusion. After news of this accident came out, The City of Apopka, via a letter from the City Attorney, informed Mr. Anderson that his contract was suspended and facing termination at the upcoming Apopka City Commission meeting, this Wednesday June 1st. Citing Section F(1) of the Mr. Anderson’s contract with the City, the Apopka City Attorney asserts that Mr. Anderson’s conduct relating to this accident has in fact been a breach of said contract.
And how did Mr. Anderson respond to this news? Did he humbly accept the consequences of his actions? Was he finally forthcoming with details of the accident? NO! Mr. Anderson chose to take a HUGE bite of the hand that has fed him for over 40 years. Digging in his heels, Anderson hired one of the most expensive law firms he could find, to “put [Apopka] on notice that [he] rejects [Apopka’s] assertion that he breached any duty… Therefore, any effort by the City to terminate the agreement will be treated by us as a default on your part, and will be actionable.” In summary, rather than do the right thing, Anderson has chosen once again to hide behind high price lawyers and a clause in the contract that is at best, open to interpretation, giving Apopka residents the back of his hand and the threat of a lawsuit. WOW!
Giving Mr. Anderson EVERY benefit of the doubt, the City responded by saying they would be “more than willing to listen to any sworn explanation of the circumstances that have resulted in the events surrounding the hit and run”, but the explanation must also include why Mr. Anderson did not inform the City of the accident after it happened, in the manner of a sworn affidavit. Even giving Mr. Anderson till 5:00 pm Tuesday May 31st, giving him one more opportunity to save face. Will Mr. Anderson avail himself of this last minute opportunity to come clean? Will he finally do the right and respectable thing? I have no illusions about this; nothing he does will surprise me.
Unfortunately, even with the extremely poor behavior and the exceptional lack of judgement Mr. Anderson demonstrated in this matter, the City may still be left holding an expensive bag. According to Section I (1B), of the contract, Remedies, “for any default or early termination by the CITY, payment to RDA as liquidated damages an amount equal to twice the total monthly retainers… for each month of the remaining term of the initial two year term..”. Folks, it could still end up costing Apopka taxpayers over $100,000.00 for the immediate contract termination. Unconscionable! Apopka is screwed no matter what, but if the City votes to terminate Anderson’s contract on Wednesday, perhaps we can finally be rid of this drain on Apopka’s resources and get the fresh start we deserve. At least it would be the end of the line of the Apopka gravy train for Mr Anderson. And Mr. Anderson, if I was you, I’d start carrying an umbrella with me when I walk in the rain.