Pavlos: Martin’s report is inaccurate
Former Public Works Director Chuck Pavlos said Jim Martin’s report was not only inaccurate, but he failed to understand the basic principals of public works during his three-month tenure as a special consultant.
Pavlos added the report was more a reflection of a forced agenda than that of a comprehensive review, as it was presented by the city manager last year.
“The saddest part is the citizens of Cape Coral paid $20,000 for a report full of inaccuracies and unsubstantiated conclusions,” Pavlos said.
Pavlos addressed those concerns during public comment Monday at the Cape Coral City Council meeting, saying that City Manager Gary King laid a “gag order” on city staff forbidding them to comment on Martin’s findings.
The “gag order,” Pavlos said, would lead to disciplinary action by the city manager if broken, and that Martin’s report was to be taken as gospel, instead of a document that would be picked apart or questioned in any way.
At Monday’s meeting, King denied a gag order was ever in place, and that Pavlos’ public comments, and the associated documents, were “disingenuous.”
“When everyone says I put a gag order on staff … that is simply not true,” King said.
Whether or not a staff report addressing Martin’s report was in existence has been an issue since the report became public.
Councilmembers Marty McClain and Kevin McGrail both asked King for a staff response, with McClain putting his wants in writing on Dec. 15.
The request asked for a staff response into the three areas in which Martin was working — street sweeping, pepper tree removal and dredging — along with “any pertinent backup documentation.”
King issued an email to Pavlos and Assistant City Manager Carl Schwing Dec. 23, that forbid them from answering any requests from “CM McClean,” saying, in part, “… please let me be clear that neither nor the staff should respond to his requests in any manner.”
Per Cape Coral’s charter, City Council members can request information directly from staff, but are not allowed to give orders or direction.
King said Monday that Pavlos never attempted to offer any response or information to Martin’s efforts, and that reports or information from Pavlos’ staff was “not readily available” when asked for by King.
King added that Pavlos said more during his time at public comment than during the six months he served under the city manager.
King also maintained the RFPs associated with Martin’s work will result in significant cost savings for the city when they are eventually made public.
“When the final numbers are put together, our return in production will be very significant,” King said.
Conversations with Martin, Pavlos said, indicated that he couldn’t get a grasp on the Public Works Department.
Information was made readily available to Martin, Pavlos said, but he never consulted Public Works staff, conducted his own interviews, nor toured any of the Public Works offices or functions during his time.
“Every time I met with him he told me he didn’t understand this stuff … he thought everything that staff gave him or told him was a lie,” Pavlos said.
Pavlos said he decided to make his thoughts public because the mayor said on a local news station that neither Pavlos nor any of his staff responded to Martin’s report, despite being repeatedly asked to.
There was also an “obligation” that Pavlos felt to city staff to make his response known.
That response, which addresses each of the three areas in which Martin was working, was dated Dec. 27.
In the report’s introduction, Pavlos wrote the Martin Report contained “drastically inaccurate information based on a failure to comprehend basic business principals.”
“Martin was not a consultant, you have to remember that, he was only a contract employee … he didn’t have the educational and professional requirements to be a consultant,” Pavlos said.
Mayor John Sullivan said Pavlos’ comment was like “putting gas on a fire,” because of the way it effected other city employees in attendance during the Monday meeting.
Having not read Pavlos’ Dec. 27 report, Sullivan said he couldn’t comment to its validity or purpose, but added that it appeared the city manager was trying to get the necessary response from Pavlos and his staff.
“It sounds like he (Gary King) was trying to get the information but he (Pavlos) didn’t come forward with it,” Sullivan said. “It sounds like he wasn’t willing to come forward.”
Sullivan said he would read Pavlos’ report “in the next couple days.”
Councilmember Derrick Donnell expects the city manager to read Pavlos’ report and respond accordingly.
“Ultimately, we want to know the truth, what the facts are, without the spin,” Donnell said.
McClain said he was happy to finally have the staff response, even if Pavlos was no longer a member of staff.
Ultimately, McClain said he was most disappointed that Public Works staff was never consulted by Martin, as well as the process in which the Pavlos response eventually became public.
McClain said he expects Bill Towler’s fuel consumption study to have similar disparities once Lee County’s audit is completed.
“I feel we’ll find many similarities when the fuel audit information becomes available,” McClain said.
McGrail said he was most disturbed by the “gag order,” as told by Pavlos. He also felt King “denigrated” Pavlos for his public comments.
Pavlos said he was never given an ultimatum by King to “resign or be fired,” instead deciding to walk away himself.
Ultimately, Pavlos said he didn’t like, or agree with, the direction in which King was taking Cape Coral.
“I did not like the way the city was being run,” Pavlos said.