RIVIERA BEACH, Fla. - Lost in the tempers that flared during this week’s Riviera Beach City council meeting is the fact that council almost hired a new city manager on the spot.
The motion to hire Lydia Smith, who has no government experience, came from the same council person, Terence Davis, who made the surprise motion on Sept. 20 to fire city manager Jonathan Evans.
Councilwoman Lynne Hubbard seconded the motion and one more vote would have made it a done deal; but then, councilwoman Dawn Pardo did not go along with the motion.
She said more time was needed.
“I don’t want this to be part of ‘City in Turmoil’,” Pardo said.
But Pardo did join Hubbard and Davis in voting to change the requirements for city manager candidates.
“It’s their agenda,” Riviera Beach resident Erika Davis said. “If they don’t get it one way they’ll get it another.”
Until now, Smith did not qualify for the position because government experience was required. But now, Riviera Beach does not require any government experience to run the city.
Chairwoman KaShamba Miller-Anderson said she believes the push is on to get Smith the city manager’s job.
“It was a second way to get in the person who they were looking for,” said Miller-Anderson.
Council rejected Smith’s candidacy for the interim city manager position in November, hiring Karen Hoskins instead. Hoskins got 67 out of 80 points, Smith 46 out of 80.
During the interview process for the interim position, council members disclosed how they met the candidates. Most said Smith emailed them, or they were introduced at a luncheon.
“I was at the luncheon as well,” Hubbard said.
Contact 5 found Hubbard had signed two official documents for Smith in 2002, including Smith’s mortgage.
Davis said in October that Smith had introduced herself via email.
Contact 5 examined Davis’ city-issued cellphone records. The day after he motioned to fire Evans, there was an 8-minute phone call between Davis’s phone and the phone of Smith. There were also two text messages sent between the two phones on Sept. 21.
WPTV has asked for those and other text messages, which are public record. Since the request in November, WPTV has not received those messages. WPTV has filed suit against the city of Riviera Beach to release those documents.
Smith claims to be the CFO of a company that Contact 5 can find no record of.
She also engages in arguments with residents on Facebook, telling one resident: “Hide…go back to your corner like a roach.”