PORT ST. LUCIE — Mayor JoAnn Faiella publicly apologized Monday for her late response in addressing two emails where she asked a resident to help her "set up" the city attorney and another which she said she was gathering "amo" against a police captain who was later laid off.
In a statement issued to Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers, Faiella said an out-of-town "family emergency" is to blame for her late response to emails leaked last week. She closed the short letter with "my deepest apology."
"I'm aware of the understandable concerns some citizens and colleagues have over recently revealed remarks made in personal emails more than a year ago when I was new to the office," Faiella said in the letter.
The letter addressed to "residents of Port St. Lucie, City Council and city staff" is Faiella's first official statement to the emails until she returns to City Hall later this week.
Faiella said in her letter that upon her return she'll "address these matters more fully and hopefully (begin) truly mending fences."
In her statement, Faiella said she's been humbled by the tough nature of politics. She said she has learned and continues to learn "many invaluable personal lessons" as a result of campaigning and leading the city during tough economic times.
One of the greatest lessons she said she's learning in office is to not act on frustration when insulted.
"Perhaps one of the best lessons I'm learning is how to better express my passion for Port St. Lucie in a fashion that's constructive and uplifting for my fellow public servants," Faiella said in her statement. "Instead of reacting on frustration on personal insults against myself and my family."
Monday's statement is the first time Faiella has commented on the emails since a July 9 meeting in which resident Tony Valicente, who said he was a concerned citizen, read them into the public record. Faiella was not at that meeting or at city events last week.
The emails were written to former mayoral candidate Victoria Huggins in April 2011, three months after Faiella took office.
In the first email dated April 7, 2011, Faiella apparently took issue with her belief that City Attorney Roger Orr was discussing matters related to her with former Mayor Pat Christensen.
The second apparently referred to a Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigation into the firing of former Police Chief Donald Shinnamon and accusations in a 2009 police memo that Faiella, a crime intelligence analyst at the time, falsified gang data. FDLE cleared Faiella of any wrongdoing in August 2011.
Joe D'Agostino has alleged Faiella used her position to control the Police Department and was behind Shinnamon's termination on Dec. 2, 2010.
FAIELLA'S APOLOGY LETTER
To: The Residents of Port St. Lucie, City council and City Staff,
First of all I want to apologize for getting this statement to everyone now, but due to a family emergency, I am currently out of town. I'm aware of the understandable concerns some citizens and colleagues have over recently revealed remarks made in personal emails more than a year ago when I was new to the office. Politics is a tough and humbling arena and it's certainly humbled me. From the intensity of the campaign trail to the challenges of facing the city during a global recession, I've learned — and continue to learn — many invaluable personal lessons. Perhaps one of the best lessons I'm learning is how to better express my passion for Port St. Lucie in a fashion that's constructive and uplifting for my fellow public servants, Instead of reacting on frustration on personal insults against myself and my family. When I return I am going to address these matters more fully and hopefully began (sic) truly mending fences.
My deepest apology.