Former Riviera Beach City Manager Jonathan Evans said Wednesday that he will file a lawsuit against the city after council voted against mediation between Evans and the city.
Evans was fired on Sept. 20 by three city council members for "misfeasance" but they never gave an explanation.
On Dec. 21, Evans' attorney, Craig Lawson, presented the city with a new settlement agreement in which he reduced the financial compensation by 50 percent. According to Lawson the attorney for the city suggested mediation between the two parties as the next step.
But the three council members who voted to fire Evans voted against that.
Lawson said he wasn't shocked by the decision.
“This is the city commission of Riviera Beach, nothing shocks anybody out here anymore," Lawson said. “They foreclosed any hope we had for settlement with them. There’s definitely a difference in legal opinion here. They believe that they’re limited by the contract we think that our client has been damaged by all of the procedures that they’ve done in the past.”
Councilwoman Tonya Davis-Johnson made the motion to enter mediation. Councilwoman Dawn Pardo seconded the motion but minutes later she voted against the motion she had just seconded.
This after council members Lynne Hubbard and Terence Davis voiced their opposition.
“What else do you think will happen at a mediation other than the manipulation of the contract?” Hubbard said.
City Attorney Andrew DeGraffenreidt stepped in and explained to council what mediation means, saying that anything that’s discussed in mediation would have to be approved by council.
“If you chose to take that route, and I would recommend that you do, I think that would be the appropriate action to take,” DeGraffenreidt said.
But it fell on deaf ears.
“That item, that issue is done, it’s closed,” Davis said.
That’s not how Evans and his attorney see it.
“It has not been done with since September,” Lawson said. “They’ve not paid him his severance, they’ve not paid him his retirement payments. They’ve not done anything.”
Chairwoman KaShamba Miller-Anderson said she was hoping to bring closure to the city but then council voted against mediation.
“It just really appeared very personal and tonight showed that,” Miller-Anderson said.
She said much of the confusion around the firing of Evans was created when Davis made the motion to fire him for misfeasance but never providing proof.
“Let’s be clear: I’ve had the documentation. Nothing has changed on that,” Davis said.
But that’s not what he said in a sworn affidavit where he stated the only documents he has are the minutes of previous meetings, which don’t show specific reasons for the firing.
“There is no legal matter,” Davis said.
Evans’ attorney disagrees.
“They’ve not done anything. So here we go,” Lawson said.
Lawson said the lawsuit will be filed by the end of the week, making it four lawsuit against Riviera Beach since Evans was fired.
In another bombshell decision the council voted to suspend the charter review commission, an advisory board of citizens, until a new city manager is hired. There is currently not timeframe of when that might be.
A member of the charter review commission went up to the microphone and said the suspension feels like "retaliation."