“Political Retaliation” City Manager, Commissioners Offer Few Answers on Fencegate

At last night's Tallahassee City Commission meeting, City Commissioners' discussed "fencegate". Public speakers referred to the item as a "hissy fit" and "political retaliation".

// February 21, 2024,

11:47 pm

Updated:February 23, 2024

At last night’s Tallahassee City Commission meeting, City Commissioners’ discussed “fencegate”, the effort by some city commissioners to arrest a Leon County Commissioner who is often critical of them. The agenda item, which was requested by Commissioners Dianne Williams-Cox, Mayor John Dailey, and Commissioner Curtis Richardson, was widely condemned by Commissioner Jack Porter and Jeremy Matlow, who along with the public expressed their frustrations over the city’s priorities. City Manager Reese Goad introduced the item briefly, playing an edited video of Fencegate in the commission chambers.

Public speakers referred to the item as a “hissy fit” and “political retaliation.” Commissioner Porter pointed out the dissonance between the rapid advancement of the Fencegate discussion and the stagnation of several critical community issues. “Obviously, we’re talking about this item, but there are items of significant public interest and concern that have been waiting for attention… yet this can come back at lightning speed,” she said.

“A year ago, I made a motion to bring back a review of our urban forest master plan to include information of what we’ve implemented of that plan, staff recommendations on the outstanding findings from that document. That has not come back. Over six months ago, we voted to have an item come back on the West End District placemaking, Pensacola Street, and what we’ve seen there. At our last meeting, I made a motion about discussing ending parking mandates and the way that that’s related to our growth, to making development affordable, both commercially and residentially.”

As the meeting progressed, City Manager Reese Goad’s seemed to offer inconsistent accounts about the drafting of the agenda item. Initially he claimed to personally write the agenda item, but it was revealed by Matlow that the Mayor’s former aide — Thomas Whitley wrote the item. Goad later said that the item was made “at his direction” after initially claiming to personally have written the item. The City manager said that the Tallahassee Police Department, the City Auditor, nor the City Attorney contributed to the item.

“I’m perplexed why this agenda item looks like a police report,” Matlow said. “The information contained in this agenda item was designed by people with no law enforcement background, no legal background,” and said that it’s purpose was to try to influence people into believing County Commissioner O’Keefe had committed a crime.

“We’ve had dozens of shootings in this community just this year alone that are actually of public interest. We have not discussed those,” Porter said.

Williams-Cox, who requested the item, had little to say of it. Mayor Dailey repeatedly asked Matlow and Porter to stop questioning the city manager.

“If we can’t have decorum we’re gonna move on” Dailey said.

“No, we’re not gonna move on,” Matlow responded.

“Your instinct that tells you that there’s a world where your government works for you, prioritizes what’s important, what is of public interest, a government that takes care of the vulnerable and treats all people with respect, that is possible and worth working toward,” Commissioner Porter said.

“The only purpose of this item and spending taxpayer dollars, your hard-earned money to do it, is to condemn and humiliate Commissioner O’Keefe, Commissioner Matlow, me, and my former aide, and it absolutely is embarrassing to witness,,” Porter said.

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One Response

  1. There are numerous dumpster fires all over the city that are burning out of control due to the incompetence and misuse of staff and resources by the city manager and mayor.

    There is important issue after issue that needs attention that is never brought back to the commission for review. The mayor and city manager are too busy working on schemes and misusing taxpayer dollars and city resources to engineer these schemes.

    If this is a police matter, the law enforcement agency should handle it and the involvement by the city manager into this matter went far beyond being inappropriate; the city manager misused staff and resources.

    Perhaps you can do an article on all the forgotten items that are supposed to be brought back to the city commissioners for review that the city manager has failed to follow through on. I don’t think it would be one article. It would probably have to be a series of articles to cover all the forgotten items due to the city manager’s preoccupation with the mayors obsession with misusing staff and resources to carry out political vendettas.

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