BALANCE SHEET BLOG – HOLLYWOOD, FL


Call For Resignation
May 30, 2012, 3:05 PM
Filed under: City Commission, City Staff

We began the Balance Sheet eight years ago with the goal of providing factual information about City issues and seeking solutions to problems.  We have tried throughout to be fair and accurate. So today, it is after much discussion, deliberation, and sadness that we call for the City Manager to step down immediately. Despite his many good qualities, he has demonstrated a stunning lack of maturity and readiness for the job during his short tenure with our City

His arrest for driving drunk shows poor judgment.  His Twitter post shows immaturity and a lack of seriousness.  By not informing the Commission the full circumstances of the night of his arrest, his behavior raises concerns of both judgment and truthfulness.

The Manager is the top appointed official in our City.  For him to exhibit such impaired judgment is an unacceptable blow to the City’s well-being.  He is, after all, responsible for supervising the entire City staff other than the City Attorney’s office. Recent media coverage about his behavior is not just a private matter.  The City itself has been tainted by the scandal.

As a City, we appear to be lurching from one catastrophe to another: financial urgency, pension referendum, sewer break, and now the Manager’s arrest for drunk driving at 3:30 AM after leaving a strip club. The City has responded with great strength to recent major challenges, and it must do so again now.

Judgment

Driving while legally drunk demonstrates an extreme lack of good judgment. Driving under the influence presents inherent danger to both the driver and the public at large. Hollywood does not deserve and cannot afford a Manager so lacking in judgment.

Some say the Manager was drinking and driving on his own time, not on City time.  For this reason they imply that such behavior should be given a pass. We disagree.  The International City Managers Association (ICMA) Code of Ethics specifies “exemplary conduct in both personal and professional matters.”  No one could dispute that the Manager’s conduct “in personal matters” has been far from exemplary.  Indeed, reports of his behavior have been splashed across the media, showing the City of Hollywood in a highly unfavorable light.

Some say the Manager should be given a second chance. Again, we  disagree.  Hollywood is a troubled City financially and demographically.  Our City requires the staff’s full, professional attention. The Manager’s ability to lead has been tarnished. His behavior has been a huge distraction. For the City to limp along while the Manager tries to gain maturity and judgment would be unfair to City staff, residents, and businesses alike.

Internet Behavior

The Manager’s Twitter account reveals a surprising lack of maturity and judgment.  He describes himself as the “Uncivil Civil Servant – You’ve been warned! Florida.” Whatever this is supposed to mean, it does not reveal a person who is taking his new job seriously.

Conclusion

This Manager should step down.  If he does not, the City Commission should fire him for cause.

Recommended Action

We encourage our readers who feel strongly about this issue to write to the Commission immediately.  Let them know your opinion before  9 AM Friday, June 1, when a Special Commission Meeting on this subject has been scheduled.

City Commission E-Mail Addresses

pbober@hollywoodfl.org

passeff@hollywoodfl.org

bfurr@hollywoodfl.org

hosheehan@hollywoodfl.org

rblattner@hollywoodfl.org

frusso@hollywoodfl.org

lsherwood@hollywoodfl.org


26 Comments

What I see here is a minor infraction (which might well be reversed or reduced as it works its way through the judicial system) and some adolescent FB behavior. It speaks to neither his credentials nor his professional judgment. It will, however, cost the city a lot of money while buying: nothing.

He had the good sense to party elsewhere than his own city, but not enough to get somebody else to drive. That’s about it.

Nor do I see where he covered anything up. He called his employers and informed them of the episode. What details did he allegedly leave out that upset commissioners? And I don’t understand why it makes a difference, as I guess Blatner indicates, that he was drinking in a gay club.

Meanwhile we’re stuck with the bill and a void in the executive suite. Talk about poor judgment

Comment by Obalesque

I find it curious, now that it’s all been said and done that Mayor Bober used similar phraseology and talking points to define his reasons to call for resignation of Douglass Hewett as the “Balance Sheet” did. Either he’s a big fan or could he be using more than just his seat at city hall to deliver his message?

Comment by Matthew

Once again the Balance Sheet has become unbalanced in their push for Swanson-Rivenbark!!

Comment by Pete Brewer

I concur with Howard Sher and I thank him for putting the cards on the table. Not once did he advise anyone to communicate with the City Officials about the Manager’s Resignation.
There is something wrong here and there needs to a complete
investagation before the Manager is asked to resign.

Comment by Helen Chervin

mr. hewitt, private problem has nothing to do his work as commissioner of hollywood, do you want to check everybody background that works for city of hollywood? do you want everybody to take blood test every month?

Comment by ed makinajian

Mr. Hewett was chosen from a final group of six qualified applicants for city manager so it is clear that he is highly qualified for the job. If this is not the case it must be concluded that those responsible for his choice are highly unqualified to be involved in the selection process. It must be assumed his background was investigated in order to be sure we were getting quality and not a pig in a poke. If this was not the case, once again the blame must go to those who made the selection for being negligent in doing their due diligence. It must be assumed, unless someone at city hall cares to dispute the thoroughness of the background and morals check, morals meaning arrest record and reasons for separation from other positions, Mr. Hewett does not make a practice of acting as he did on that unfortunate evening. There is no supporting evidence. If passed misbehavior had occurred and was not found on a background check, it would seem the people responsible for missing such behavior should be considered for dismissal if Mr. Hewett is being considered for dismissal.
It must further be concluded that this is a first time and one time situation unless there is reason to conclude this behavior may be repeated; there is no evidence to draw that conclusion. He made a mistake. He embarrassed himself far more than the city. The city has broad shoulders and will survive this embarrassment if it can survive the embarrassment of buying a building from a person that didn’t own it – now that’s embarrassing. If no one was fired or asked to resign for that debacle, I think we can all handle Mr. Hewett’s mistake in that it didn’t cost the city any money which could be considered a real bargain considering the cost of other mistakes long before his arrival.
This foolish event does not take away from his qualifications which were good enough for city personnel and the commission to select him over five other applicants who rose to the top of the process because of their superior backgrounds and qualifications after eliminating all of the other applicants. It is not true the choices of the commission include a variety of bad decisions that have cost the city far more than this little embarrassment that will soon pass. If Mr. Hewett’s mistake is to be so scrutinized, maybe an oversight committee should be delegated to review all those unfortunate commission decisions and why they were made, their costs and possible initiating of a means to avoid reoccurrences. You question Why and I say Fi. This is not to dismiss the fact that commissioners are not jack of all trades which does makes them vulnerable to bad decisions many of which might be avoided by using more expert advice such as in the case of the Bioset deal where I believe we were taken for about ten million dollars.
Accordingly, it seems only fair and reasonable to overlook a personal mistake made by an employee such as was done for a CRA director who had more than one incident of excessive imbibing. Should not those who are now pushing for the removal of Mr. Hewett be questioned on their tolerance relating to the even worst and repeated behavior of this past CRA director? It would seem that a little hypocrisy is raising its head.
Considering that firing a city manager for the mistake of misjudging the amount of liquor consumed on one occasion might be too severe an action and too penalizing in nature, maybe we should look more closely at those that are ready and willing to throw the first stone. Being fired for such an incident could be devastating to a young man’s career. Please consider the alternative possibility If he is not dismissed and it eventually comes to fruition that keeping him was actually the better choice, would that not be a far more desirable outcome. Shouldn’t the latter be given serious consideration in lieu of being quick on the drawn which usually leads to far more regrettable outcomes than those reached through reason, patience, and tolerance? if a modicum of forbearance is displayed by those who have had the life experiences to develop this admirable quality/attribute that might enable us to get past this ugly situation, it should be made clear by mutual written agreement that another incident of this nature will automatically require an immediate resignation with no financial gain related to the departure.
I have a great deal of respect for Sara Case and Lauri Schecter who have had a big influence on many of the positive happenings in Hollywood but it appears that they have started to lose objectivity yielding to the temptation of securing greater inside influence in order to have support for odd programs like decorate your house for cash rewards, money that could have been much better used to help so many of our unfortunate Hollywood citizens.
In their blog they state, “His arrest for driving drunk shows poor judgment.” This is absolutely wrong!y incorrect. His lack of knowing his drinking limit showed poor judgment – not knowing his capacity, which is an indication that he doesn’t drink regularly. This resulted in a decision influenced by liquor which usually results in causing poor judgment. One chooses to drive under the influence of liquor because of the bad influence of the liquor not because of having poor judgment. They additionally call this a “scandal,” rather strong language for not recognizing ones drinking capacity unless this is a criticism of the form of entertainment one chooses which is certainly non of our business as long as legal. I have attended in the past, be it on rare occasions, one of at least eight clubs within a few miles of Hollywood including Cheetah’s within a few blocks where stripping is the form of entertainment. I understand these entertainer make a very good living even in this every poor economy and are enthusiastically accepted by their patrons. The commission now questioning not disclosing where he was drinking is a commission not minding its own business when they should be minding it and is sign of prejudice if where one is when drinking is to be judged. Is attending a gay bar any different than attending the Dolphin cub, a cub of gay Democrats?
Some have gotten the impression that for some time this couple has been trying to get Ms. Rivenbark into the position of city manager because she would likely be more receptive to their influence. I likely wouldn’t object to most of their agenda but do object to using inside influence to fulfill it, particularly when it involves a firing. How different would this be from the Alan/Bernie insider team of lobbyists who use their influence on the commission? Let’s see where this is going and who are the movers and shakers in pushing what agenda.
If Mr. Hewett is dismissed, will we reconsider the other five applicants or will there be those who insist on Ms. Rivenbark taking the position even though when the opportunity was there she made it very clear that she did not want the job of city manager. She has stated publically that she has made considerably more money in past positions. Will that become more of a factor than simply doing what see has been doing in serving very capably as assistant city manager which she has stated on many occasions is her primary and foremost aspiration? Will we have to say goodbye to Mr. Hewitt’s great ideas on development and economics for the city because he made the mistake of over drinking on one occasion, whose ever done that before?
Howard Sher
Hollywood, Fl.

Comment by Howard Sher

Today I read and saw on the news that Mayor Bober is requesting that Mr. Hewett resign or be fired. Here is my question: since he was within a period of probation, and has displayed ample cause for dismissal, and since there was an executive recruiter hired who presumably should have vetted this and any other candidate fully – why have him resign or be fired? Why can’t the offer be revoked for (rather substantial) cause – both because the City’s hire was made without full information disclosure (poor performance of the exec. recruiter) and because of the candidate’s behavior during the probation period?

Comment by Lori E. Gold

Something does not sound right. The mayor and possibly other commissioners knew of the DUI, ahead of the publicity. There did not seem to be any action because the attorney for the city said to wait. This blog may have been a pressure todo something. You may be right Lori that there are “normal” avenues to take. However, without a HR type attorney to review the documents/policy, the mayor may be shooting from his hip. How hard is it to consult with an outside HR attorney on proper procedures to follow?

Comment by Rosemary Sabino

Rosemary,
The City Manager is an employee “at will.” That means he can be terminated with or without cause at any time.

Comment by Balance Sheet Blog

Very sad day for our City. We need leadership and our City Commission needs to act swiftly and make a decision on his future with the City. Unfortunate situation however we need to focus on ensuring we have the right talent and get to work on improving Hollywood.

Comment by Ed

Abraham Lincoln, when confronted with General Ulysses S. Grant’s legendary abuse of alcohol and demands for his immediate removal, replied that perhaps the rest of his generals should be sent a barrel of whiskey.

Comment by Tom Morley

Hello! We did not heir a preacher. We hired a businessman. Would you like another Jimmy Carter?

Comment by Tom Morley

Really? That’s the best you can come up with?

Comment by Tchaka

Ms. Case, your concern is warranted. However, the Commission had no intention of taking action until the story broke. They had enough info to take some sort of action in april. There is where your concern should be. This is political grandstanding. They were fine with this until the now.

Comment by h33020

As I said previously on this blog, drunk driving isn’t usually a one-time event, but the one time the offender was caught. It is a shame, indeed, but the City Manager must be fired for cause.

There was a more mature candidate that should be given the job without another costly search from the firm that obviously didn’t do a thorough background check.

If he isn’t available, then give the job to the Ass’t. City Manager.

Comment by Charlotte Greenbarg

Drunk Driving should never be referred to as an isolated incident. It is a Drinkers choice. ,The City Manager made a decision that could have had deadly consequences.
To make that sort of judgment call this early in the game really sends us a message.
I can only hope he was at least not driving his City issued automobile. This is a no brainer,he has to go.

Comment by Suzanne

While I agree we don’t need the bad press, was this an isolated incident? Any previous DUI’s? A person is entitled to due process. Perhaps the machines were not properly calibrated. What is the HR policy of the City? Was he required to disclose what happened or not? There are a lot of facts missing here and while it appears he was immature, I am not sure he should be fired at this point.

Comment by Susan Best

I am shamed for our City…

Comment by John Passalacqua

Agree with all comments. What a shame! Makes me so sad for the city of Hollywoodl So many problems and now this. What is the the next step after dismissal? Wait until the elections in November?

Comment by Rosemary Sabino

The uncivil civil servant needs to go along with the mayor and all commisioners.

Comment by Craig Summers

Balance Sheet comments are well said. What a shame….

Comment by Terry Cantrell

Excellent summation of the situation. Agree wholeheartedly.

Comment by Resident

I agree with the Balance Sheet on this one. Had he blown a 0.09 or 0.1, I’d be more inclined to give him a second chance. However, he was at 0.139 on one and 0.145 on the other. That’s not borderline, it’s clear into the drunk zone. Going to a strip club is irrelevant as far as I’m concerned, this level of intoxication while driving is a problem!

Comment by Tchaka

I have to say that I concur.

His presentation to the City Commission in January (?) was very impressive. I thought he would bring fresh ideas and vivacity to the City while at the same time learning the ways and means of a new environment.

It is difficult to fathom how someone who hasn’t even finished a fraction of the Probationary Period would off and running so mindlessly, without any regard to how his behavior would impact anyone else, be they traveling in another car within striking distance on the road, or within a City he was hired to shepherd. I cannot imagine that staff who would be under his employ could treat him with respect after seeing more than they needed to know – especially after such a long awaited, anticipated arrival.

Very poor judgment, indeed.

Didn’t the search firm vet anything here?

Comment by Lori E. Gold

No second chances at this point are warrented. We have too many problems as it is in this city. Take immediate corrective action – Stand up for once and act with haste.

Comment by bill

As far as catastrophes go this one is probably the most benign in many a year.

No one has yet been able to answer why the arrest was at the beginning of April and here at the end of May it finally becomes News. Who is pulling the strings for this puppet show?

Comment by Charles Kerr




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