Now that the trial is over, and both former council members Damien Gilliams and Pamela Parris were found guilty by a jury, Mayor Ed Dodd thanked the citizens of Sebastian for standing up and recalling them during a crisis.
“I want to make sure everybody in Sebastian understands how big of a deal it was for the citizens of the city to stand up and do what they did,” Dodd said during Wednesday night’s City Council meeting.
Dodd said he was “a bit leery” about saying anything prior because he didn’t know what may get caught up in the criminal trial. He said a group of people in the city grew large and decided they were going to do something about it.
“They managed to accomplish something that was not only very difficult, but I personally thought it was almost impossible to get done. I was absolutely amazed when the second round of petitions got enough signatures to go forward,” Dodd said.
Dodd emphasized that he was amazed how the citizens stood up for the democratic process in the city that led to the Sebastian recall to remove Damien Gilliams, Pamela Parris, and Charles Mauti from public office.
“The whole concept of democracy is if your leaders don’t do what they’re supposed to do that you can change those leaders, and I’m constantly in awe for the people who did that,” Dodd said, referring to the recall.
Dodd said he and everyone owe them a great deal of gratitude.
Sebastian citizens also credit Dodd for helping to keep the city safe during the political turmoil.
City Staff Stood Up
In addition, Dodd said he still remembers April 22, 2020, and the morning of April 23, 2020, and April 24, 2020, from a perspective that most people didn’t know.
“I will tell you that there were a lot of people in this city staff that stood up and supported the city, they were concerned, but they didn’t walk away,” Dodd added.
On April 22, 2020, a regularly scheduled City Council meeting was postponed after more than a thousand citizens contacted the city to ask for the meeting to be canceled in fear of the COVID-19 pandemic. There were items on the meeting agenda that people wanted to address in person during public input.
The city began testing Zoom for virtual meetings but was not ready to host one yet. City Manager Paul Carlisle postponed the meeting until May.
However, three city council members (Damien Gilliams, Pamela Parris, Charles Mauti) had a meeting anyway, even though they were notified the meeting was postponed. There were notices also posted on all the doors to the chambers and online informing people about the postponed meeting.
Gilliams, Parris, and Mauti ignored the notice and had a meeting without the rest of the charter officers. Also in attendance were people from the Sebastian Property Owners Association (SPOA). One recorded the meeting and then announced the “police are coming.” In addition, there was no public input provided at their meeting.
Those in attendance:
- Damien Gilliams – President of SPOA
- Pamela Parris – Former Vice-President of SPOA
- Charles Mauti
- Bob Stephens – Vice-President of SPOA
- Diana Bolton – Director of SPOA, Director of Friends of St. Sebastian
- Robert “Dr. Bob” Bedea – Director of SPOA
- Dr. Graham Cox – Director of Pelican Island Audubon Society
Outside on a bench during the meeting was Russell “Buzz” Herrmann, Vice President of Friends of St. Sebastian. During court testimony from the trial, Herrmann admitted to making contact with Gilliams and others by phone to bring them down to City Hall for an alleged “rally” to thank their supporters.
During the meeting, the three council members removed the mayor and wanted to fire the City Manager, City Attorney, and City Clerk.
The day after the meeting, Bolton and Stephens would support Gilliams during his infamous press conference at City Hall as he declared himself the new mayor of Sebastian and called Ed Dodd a “tyrant.”
Citizens of Sebastian Deserve an Apology
Many Sebastian citizens feel the people who attended the illegal meeting owe them an apology for their participation. They saw the notices of the postponed meeting on the doors, yet, they went into the chambers anyway.
The only one who did apologize was Charles Mauti. He apologized for his actions more than once.
The city was facing a pandemic, which left many people jobless, and businesses shut down. Many citizens were angry and called the meeting “self-serving.”
However, many people doubt that Damien Gilliams, Pamela Parris, Diana Bolton, Bob Stephens, Robert Bedea, or Dr. Graham Cox will ever apologize to the citizens of the City of Sebastian.