Pavlos: No city fuel is missingPavlos: No city fuel is missing
Former Public Works Director Chuck Pavlos said the city isn’t missing millions of dollars worth of fuel, instead consultant Bill Towler’s report was missing some valuable data when it was presented to the public.
Pavlos said Towler did not take into account surplus city vehicles that were sold during the period in which Towler examined and eventually reported; that data was “removed” and not “lost” from the city’s fuel data collection system, but Towler never requested that information, according to Pavlos.
Information for vehicles that are sold is removed from the system, Pavlos added, and not counted against current fuel totals.
Without seeking that important information, Pavlos said, he could understand how Towler could conclude the fuel was missing, but he felt Towler and City Manager Gary King were too quick to assume malfeasance had occurred, instead of a data oversight.
“I agree it was good to look as those processes, but I disagree with some of the statements on how he got there,” Pavlos said Wednesday.
Towler reported last year that he discovered millions of dollars of missing or unaccounted for fuel. Towler was paid $20,000 for a three-month contract, during which time he was to examine the city’s fleet. Following his report, Towler’s contract was renewed for four months at nearly $30,000 and city council ordered a fuel audit, now under way by Clerk of the Courts Charlie Green’s office.
Towler could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.
City spokeswoman Connie Barron said he was out of the office “for the next couple of weeks” on personal business. Barron said Towler was not being paid for his time off.
Pavlos made his presentation to the Cape Coral Civic Association on Tuesday night. His presentation also included information pertaining to a report filed by consultant Jim Martin, who said that outsourcing three aspects of the Public Works Department would result in significant savings. Martin was also paid $20,000 for his three-month tenure.
Councilmember Chris Chulakes-Leetz, who attended the civic meeting, said he left in the middle of Pavlos’s presentation because he felt there was no pertinent content, and relied more on speculation and point of view than hard data.
He said he was not moved by the information shared by Pavlos, and equated the meeting to a “low-key political rally” more than an informational session.
“The information about those topics isn’t moving the city forward. We need to be creating jobs and we need to create commerce,” Chulakes-Leetz said. “We shouldn’t be focusing on minor issues.”
Councilmember Pete Brandt, also in attendance, declined comment on Pavlos’s presentation.
Brandt said he wasn’t going to “telegraph his punches,” and instead is going to wait until the issue is brought up at a meeting and then address it via a written statement.
Council members Derrick Donnell and Kevin McGrail could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
Councilmember Marty McClain called Pavlos’s presentation both professional and factual, and said it did not include any negative comments about elected officials or City Manager Gary King, who hired Towler and Martin.
McClain has been seeking a staff response since Towler made his report public before city council.
“It’s a shame we had to lose a very qualified Public Works director as the result of a one-sided belief,” McClain said Wednesday.
Cape Coral Civic Association President Lyndia Bradley said she felt her members came away feeling much better about their city.
As president of the organization, Bradley said she didn’t know if she would bring up the subject during public comment, but she might as a private citizen. Bradley often comments at the podium during city council meetings and workshops.
“I do hope one of the council people would broach the subject,” Bradley added.
Pavlos said he was not faulting Towler for his findings, nor was he attempting to attack him.
He said he was essentially blindsided by the report, and he wanted to set straight the misconception that Public Works, under his watch as former director, was operating poorly and inefficiently.
“Every process can be approved, but his report came across as there was no accountability, and that wasn’t true,” Pavlos said.