Sebastian City Council Meeting Canceled Amid Controversy

City of Sebastian
City of Sebastian

The voice of Sebastian residents has been heard, and tonight’s City Council meeting has been canceled.

“Based on the consensus of the City Council and the authority granted by the Declaration of Local State of Emergency, I am directing that the meeting of April 22, 2020 be postponed and all items carried forward to the next regularly scheduled meeting,” Paul Carlisle said.

Vice-Mayor Charles Mauti was attempting to remove Ed Dodd as Mayor along with supporting votes by council members Damien Gilliams and Pamela Parris, a move that would ultimately appoint Gilliams as the new Mayor. In addition, Parris was wanting the council to consider health insurance.

The PAC group Sebastian Voters Against Gilliams and Parris asked its members to contact the City to cancel the meeting since it wouldn’t be appropriate without all residents being there for public input.

“This is a major win for our group and the influence it has on our City and Council. We deserve better. And this is the first step of keeping our Council in check and moves us closer to recalling Gilliams and Parris,” Christopher Nunn told Sebastian Daily.

When residents heard about the upcoming meeting agenda, they called it self-serving and “pure trickery” during the State of Emergency. Many residents believe Mauti, Gilliams, and Parris were using the coronavirus pandemic to take over the City without cause.

“This is extremely unfair to the citizens that you were elected to serve! There are issues on the agenda that deserve public input, and in holding this meeting at this time you are ensuring fewer residents show up! This is pure trickery! I noted that the zoning meeting was canceled, why is this meeting still scheduled,” Sebastian resident Vicki Tunker wrote in an email addressed to the council.

In emails obtained by Sebastian Daily, Mauti is seen arguing with City Manager Paul Carlisle about having the meeting. First, Mauti requested that the meeting be canceled, then he told Carlisle “YOU DO NOT HAVE MY VOTE TO CANCEL THE MEETING.”

Mauti also told Carlisle “That is all I will say to you, I expect you to do as I ask.”

Some residents who read the emails thought Mauti was disrespectful and nasty to the City Manager.

“I am also embarrassed to say I wasted my vote by voting for Mr. Mauti. I was an elected official and take these positions very seriously, and to see a person do the opposite of his campaign promises to keep transparency is, in my opinion, unethical. Sad state of affairs we have here in Sebastian. Personal agendas do not belong in City Politics,” Sebastian resident Ann Lucier said.

Gilliams’ has wanted to become Mayor since the election. He was seen passing out business cards that asked residents to call the other city council members and appoint him as Mayor. People who received these business cards were expected to present them during the meeting.

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

Gilliams first said that the last meeting was closed “illegally” by Mayor Dodd, an accusation that is false, according to City Attorney Manny Anon.

“The gaveling of the meeting closed by the Mayor was legal,” Anon told Gilliams.

When that didn’t work, Gilliams and Mauti said Dodd called all New Yorkers “nasty” during a newscast on Sebastian Daily.

“If you had paid attention to the video of Mayor Dodd in the interview with Andy Hodges, he was making reference to and mentioned that we are a comparatively ‘safe’ town as compared to NYC that had some nasty people. He wasn’t referring to all of New York, as you indicated in your email. Andy asked Mayor Dodd why there wasn’t a curfew, and Mayor Dodd explained that that was only necessary during natural disasters such as hurricanes where there might be looting. He said there was no reason to require people to stay in after 10 o’clock. He said, and this is VERBATIM ‘Thankfully, we live in an area in the United States where we don’t have the problems bigger cities do. Curfews in New York City probably would be good because there’s a lot of nasty people in New York City. We have only six old grouches here, and I don’t have to worry about locking my door at night.’ Do you honestly think this was some derogatory remark about everyone from New York?,” Sebastian resident Annie Talley wrote to the city council.

Mauti, Parris, and Gilliams declined to comment. However, Councilman Jim Hill sent us a response.

“These three never cease to amaze me with their outrageous antics. I called for the canceling of this meeting last week, as it is unfair for the citizens to be stifled in their ability to represent their opinions on the issues. It is obvious that the three wish to push their personal, controversial issues at this time. The disrespectful tone of the emails from Charles Mauti to our professional city manager showed his lack of understanding of the roll of a council member. God help us,” Hill told Sebastian Daily.

The next City Council meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, May 13, 2020, at 6:00 p.m.

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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.