Was Riviera Beach meeting discussing city manager violation of Sunshine Law?

RIVIERA BEACH, Fla. - The Riviera Beach Chief of Police had no explanation as to why he was at a meeting on Thursday night at the Hurst Chapel, where a group was discussing the firing of former City Manager Jonathan Evans. 

“I don’t know anything about the contents of the meeting,” Chief Clarence Williams said. “And why would walk up to the police chief and ask him? I just arrived.”

That contradicts what numerous sources, including Tommy Walker, tell NewsChannel 5. 

Walker said he went to attend the meeting. Walker is a voal supporter of Evans in the community. 

“As soon as they saw me, Chief Williams came up to me," Walker said. "I tried to scan the room but he was directly in front of me. So I looked at him and I said: ‘Well, I guess this doesn’t look like a meeting I’m supposed to be at.’ And he looked at me and he said: ‘You’re right, Mr. Walker.’ We shook hands and I left.”

Sources say the meeting was to strategize to keep Evans from getting re-instated as city manager and how to deal with the emotional backlash from the community. 

Also at the meeting were Councilman Terence Davis and Councilwoman Lynne Hubbard, although they were never in the room at the same time. 

Also in attendance was former Councilman Bruce Guyton who pleaded guilty to Sunshine law violation in August. 

Rev. Elvin J. Parker III at the Hurst Chapel said he was not at the church at the time of the meeting and he has no idea what the meeting was about or who was there. 

“I was not there I have no idea,” Parker said. “I don’t micromanage. I come on that campus, anything could be going on.”

Although several ministers were at the meeting, he said he doesn’t know which ones.

According to a first amendment lawyer, the meeting does not directly violate Sunshine law, since the two elected officials weren’t in the room at the same time, but it definitely violates the spirit of the law. 

“It doesn’t make sense at all why you’re here and asking me in particular,” Williams told our reporter Thursday night.

Mayor Thomas Masters said he was hoping for more transparency. 

“When we have a meeting we advertise it to the public so the public can participate,” Masters said.

A lawsuit was filed against the city of Riviera Beach to demand the reasons behind Evans firing to be made public. 

On Friday, the judge said the defendants in the case, including Davis, have until no later than noon on Oct. 4 to file a written response to the lawsuit. 

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