The three council members, along with a few directors from the Sebastian Property Owners Association (SPOA), are accused of illegally attempting to take over the City of Sebastian during a coronavirus pandemic.
We were told this morning that the investigation is moving “very quickly.”
“The only persons who have acted with substantial defiance of, or resistance to, a lawful exercise of public authority have been the Former Mayor, the Former City Manager, Former City Clerk and Former City Attorney in crafting an attempt to circumvent the Sunshine Law and Charter by claiming to cancel a City Council Meeting under imaginary authority,” Gilliams said during a press conference on Thursday.
Last Wednesday, the people involved had an “illegal meeting” to fire the City Attorney, City Manager, and the City Clerk, according to Mayor Ed Dodd.
Mark Fenster, a University of Florida law professor, said the votes taken in the Wednesday meeting are invalid.
Fenster said having a meeting with insufficient notice with only the three members present and no means for the public to comment goes beyond the councilors’ authority, and the meeting’s actions are invalid.
The three council members also voted and named Damian Gilliams the new Mayor, a move that Dodd says was illegal.
Also, in and outside the chambers that night were at least three directors from the SPOA, in which Gilliams is still the president. Parris was the vice-president until December 2019.
Graham Cox, who serves on the board for both the Friends of the St. Sebastian River and the Pelican Island Audubon Society, was also in the chambers, but told Sebastian Daily he thought a regularly scheduled meeting was taken place, even though the lights were out, a sign on the door said “meeting canceled,” and the overhead projector had the words “meeting canceled.”
Buzz Herrmann was sitting outside the chambers during the meeting.
Bolton, Stephen, Bedea, Cox, and Herrmann also serve on the board of directors for various local environmental groups such as the Friends of the St. Sebastian River, Pelican Island Audubon Society, and others.
Diana Bolton, SPOA Environmental Director, and self-proclaimed science researcher, serves on the board with the Friends of the St. Sebastian River, was in the chambers recording the meeting.
Bob Stephens, SPOA Vice-President, and serves on the board with the Friends of the St. Sebastian River, was also recording in the chambers.
Bolton, Stephens, and Bedea also showed up during Thursday’s press conference with Gilliams offering him their support.
The State Attorneys Office is setting up interviews to question everyone who was in and outside the chambers when the alleged secret meeting took place. Investigators also want all videos turned over.
Former members of SPOA have filed complaints with State and Federal authorities about their political practices that could violate their nonprofit status with the Internal Revenue Service.
“My husband Adam, and I, chose to resign our elected positions as Vice-President and Secretary, respectively. After Damien tried to coerce Adam into falsifying minutes of the April 2019 general meeting of SPOA, when he presented the minutes at the subsequent Board meeting,” Cindy Geesey told Sebastian Daily.
Geesey said Gilliams used the SPOA as a political action group for his City Council campaign.
Tracey Cole, a founding member of the political action committee formed to recall Gilliams and Parris from office, said the community would not stand for a takeover of the city by three rogue council members.