By Bobby R. Henry, Sr.
I don’t normally share my space here, however there comes a time when attention needs to be given to other noteworthy issues.—Publisher Bobby R. Henry, Sr.
Two weeks ago, City Commissioners Gloria Lewis, Beverly Williams, and Patricia Williams abruptly voted at the end of a Commission Meeting to fire Allen for “cause” against their City Attorney’s legal advice.
Jonathan Allen worked for the City of Lauderdale Lakes for 15 years and served as City Manager for approximately four years. He was raised in Broward County and brought knowledge, experience, and strong commitment for making a difference in the community. At the Lauderdale Lakes Commission Meeting on April 28, 2015, the City Commission voted unanimously to rescind a previous improper firing of Allen on a three-two vote and then approved a separation of employment agreement.
The City’s Charter required four votes to fire the City Manager. City Commissioners Edwina Coleman and Eileen Rathery voted against firing Allen.
In an effort to avoid a costly court battle and lawsuit for the City, Allen’s attorney, Eugene Pettis of Haliczer Pettis & Schwamm Law Firm, negotiated a separation of employment agreement which was ultimately approved by the City Com-mission with a unanimous vote. Under the terms of the agreement, the City would not fire Allen for “cause” and City Commissioners would not say anything derogatory about Allen’s employment with the City.
During the commission meeting, Pettis urged the Commission to pass the agreement. Attorney Pettis said, “The true measure of a man is when he feels he’s been wronged, he can stand with dignity and allow the process to move forward. Allen just believes that he’s bigger than to allow himself to get drawn into something that’s not for the betterment of this city.” At the end of Attorney Pettis’ public comments, Mayor Russell called for the vote and the agreement was unanimously approved by the City Commission.
In November 2014, Allen received an overall positive evaluation for his performance as City Manager for Fiscal Year 2014. Allen has been credited with developing and implementing the City’s Financial Recovery Plan, eliminating the City’s four million dollar fund balance deficit, and reducing the City’s nine million dollar debt owed to BSO for past due police and fire rescue services to almost half in three years.
At the commission meeting, both city and county officials praised Allen for successfully addressing the city’s financial crisis and near bankruptcy, attracting new economic development to the city, displaying a high degree of integrity and professionalism, and serving as a positive role model for youth in Broward County. Mayor Russell said, “Mr. Allen has been a very professional, dedicated, and financially astute City Manager.” Commissioner Cole-man expressed, “Jonathan was a valuable city asset and his motto for our city was ‘Failure Is Not an Option’. Jonathan did a great job as City Manager and brought us out of a depression,” Coleman remarked.
During the crowded city commission meeting, numerous city residents and Allen supporters gave positive remarks on Allen’s honorable service to the City and his perseverance in bringing the City back from the brink of bankruptcy.
Long-term city residents, Pastor Michel Coulson of Unity New Testament Church of God, Gwen Denton, Meredith McCleary, and Former City Com-missioner Ben Williams, provided very inspiring and encouraging words to Allen and criticized the commissioners that voted to fire him. Meredith McCleary recited the poem If by laureate Rudyard Kipling as a departing tribute for former City Manager Jonathan Allen, who was sitting silently next to his attorney in the commission chambers.
While leaving his last Lauderdale Lakes Commission Meeting, Allen said with a smile, “I’ve enjoyed my time at the City of Lauderdale Lakes. I’m staying faithful, focused, and fruitful as I move into the future.”