Judge Rules in Sebastian City Council Lawsuit

Damien Gilliams
Damien Gilliams

Circuit Judge Janet Croom ruled in favor of Councilman Damien Gilliams to proceed with City Council meetings that were canceled by City Manager Paul Carlise and Mayor Ed Dodd.

“It’s regrettable I had to go to Court to point out the obvious. Our Charter and both Federal and State Constitution clearly preserve the people’s representatives to meet. Our City Attorney failed to properly advise our City Manager. There is a fundamental difference I have with Mayor Dodd, City Manager Carlisle and City Attorney Anon. You cannot hijack power of the People and make decisions and not present those actions to citizen’s representatives. Thank God for the Honorable Judge Janet Croom,” Gilliams told Sebastian Daily.

Meanwhile, the State Attorney’s Office still has an active criminal investigation into Damien Gilliams, Charles Mauti, and Pamela Parris for violating multiple Sunshine Laws when they went forward with a canceled meeting.

Some residents weren’t too happy with the outcome because it gives the city council the right to make decisions without the public appearing in-person to provide input. Gilliams argued against this during the last meeting on March 18, 2020.

“They should not be allowed to meet until there is a ruling on the Sunshine Law violations the three council members were part of. Since they held their own meeting behind closed doors, they should NOT be allowed to request any meeting, especially since Mr. Gilliams just wants to take over the Council,” Daisy May wrote on Facebook.

Judge Croom said that the public can provide input on virtual meetings, such as Zoom, which is what is being used right now at the Indian River County Courthouse.

Many residents in Sebastian believe Damien Gilliams, Charles Mauti, and Pamela Parris will use the next meeting as a reason to fire the city staff once again and appoint Gilliams as Mayor.

On April 22, 2020, city residents were appalled when the three council members entered the public chambers, locked the doors, and held a private meeting to fire the City Manager, City Attorney, and the City Clerk.

The next day, the State Attorney’s Office opened a criminal investigation into Gilliams, Mauti, and Parris after a series of events that unfolded during the meeting. The investigation is still active.

The entire meeting was recorded by at least three directors from the Sebastian Property Owners Association, where Gilliams still serves as president. Also present at the meeting was Buzz Herrmann, a director for Friends of St. Sebastian River, also a nonprofit organization.

Gilliams and the two other council members could go back into the next meeting and fire the City Attorney, City Manager, City Clerk, and again appoint himself as the new Mayor.

Many residents say the meeting was nothing more than an illegal coup to take over the City of Sebastian with Gilliams in charge.

Gilliams wanted to become Mayor last November, but the Council appointed Ed Dodd instead. Gilliams was also seen handing out business cards at the Sebastian Clambake, asking residents to call the other city council members to appoint him as Mayor.

Here’s a picture of one of the business cards.

A business card by Damien Gilliams
A business card by Damien Gilliams

In February, prior to the recent events, Sebastian Daily conducted an Opinion Poll in which 83 percent of people agreed that Gilliams and Parris should be recalled.

A PAC group calling itself Sebastian Voters Against Gilliams and Parris has been very active and growing in support of the recall.

“The Judge ruled that the Council has a right to meet. It may feel like a setback, sure, but this case had nothing to do with any Sunshine Law violations. This has NO impact on what we are doing, but it can have an impact on the Council and Charter employees,” Christopher Nunn, one of the founders of a PAC group, told Sebastian Daily.

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About Andy Hodges
Andy Hodges was born in Annapolis, Maryland and raised in Jupiter, Florida. Andy has been a radio & TV personality since the 1980s. He has worked for WLIZ, WFLX-FOX 29, WIRK, WIXI, WKSY, WRMF, and WJNO to name a few. After spending 7 years in Atlanta, Georgia during the 1990s, Andy returned to Florida and settled in the small town of Sebastian in 2000. In 2005, he returned to the broadcasting news sector and eventually joined our news team in 2016 as editor in chief. Andy's family has lived in Sebastian for more than 45 years.