Fort Pierce Utility Authority Board members could face termination at scheduled special meeting

Posted at 11:52 PM, Jul 11, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-11 23:53:11-04

FORT PIERCE, Fla. -- The director and board members of the Fort Pierce Utility Authority could be in hot water, following allegations of possible preferential treatment to commercial utility customers.

Special meetings are scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday where Fort Pierce City leaders could decide whether any members of the FPUA board should be terminated, including director Clayton Lindstrom.

All five board members received letters from City Manager Nick Mimms Tuesday, warning them of the potential terminations.

The letters read:

The Fort Pierce City Commission has noticed a special meeting of the City Commission to conduct an inquiry into the propriety of certain actions of FPUA Board members in order to determine if such actions constitute grounds for removal. As a result of this inquiry, the Commission may decide to remove one or more members from the FPUA Board. This matter will come before the Commission at a Special City Commission meeting of July 12, 2017. You are hereby noticed that you may be removed as an FPUA Board member and should take whatever steps you deem appropriate in this matter.

The city would not go into detail about the exact reason for the possible terminations, but conversations recorded in public meetings details some of the concerns leading to the special meetings.

In May, a former FPUA employee, William Abromowicz, spoke to FPUA board members in public comments, detailing how he made a public records request showing one business in the city was given more than 7 months to pay a mandatory deposit of $8,000.

Abromowicz said most businesses are given just days to do so. He asked for answers.

“Every commercial customer should be treated the same,” Abromowicz said. “There could have been financial hardships for both the utility and its customers had those commercial accounts not been adequately deposited.”

That business in question was Sweetie’s Diner, according to the owner, Rick Reed.

Reed said in a public statement that he never had a conversation with Lindstrom about his deposit and that there was no special treatment.

That original complaint sparked more conversations, some which targeted Director Clayton Lindstrom.

“It sounds like something’s not right and I’d like to get to the bottom of it,” said FPUA Deputy Secretary Darryl Bey.
In later meetings, Lindstrom brought forth information that could suggest this goes beyond him.

He found unpaid deposits for years before he became Director in 2015.

“We have 36 commercial establishments that go back at least 10 years, that have no deposit. We don’t know the reason why,” Lindstrom said.

State Representative Larry Lee has spoken in Lindstrom’s defense. “I think right now to move to the dismissal of Mr. Lindstrom is wrong,” Lee said.

“To impugn this gentleman’s integrity is an abomination,” Reed said.

City Commissioners will meet at 7 p.m. Wednesday to discuss the possible removal of one or more board members.

The FPUA Board of Directors has also set a special meeting for 8:30 a.m. to discuss Lindstrom’s employment contract.