DEERFIELD BEACH — Local pastors and community leaders have called a special meeting next week to express their concerns about the city’s treatment of a maintenance worker who was disciplined for failing to greet the mayor.
“This is a call for action by the community, so we can bring clarity to the issue, so it does not fester into something else,” said the Rev. Anthony Pelt, pastor of the Radiant Living Worship Center church in the city. “It’s time for our community to get involved, and we can’t let this stand.”
Pelt said city maintenance worker Cassandra Moye is a member of his church, and that when she initially told him what happened, he was taken aback.
“After seeing the city’s response to a clear injustice, I felt we needed to meet before this gets out of hand,” Pelt said.
Other pastors plan to join Pelt at the meeting on Monday, Aug. 17 at Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church in the city.
“I want her request for full back pay, and total exoneration granted, and for it to be conspicuously placed in her file that she did absolutely nothing wrong,” said the Rev. W.J. Ford, pastor of Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church.
“I know her [Mayor Peggy Noland] well enough to know she speaks for herself. I think he owes Mayor Noland and Cassandra an apology, because she says it was not true,” Ford said. “This looks like a vendetta against Cassandra and there must be more to this than we realize.”
Last week, the manager who suspended Moye received his own form of discipline.
Deerfield Beach City Manager Mike Mahaney on Friday, Aug. 7 issued a written counseling to George Edmunds, acting director of the city’s parks and recreation department.
The counseling memo, which will be a permanent part of Edmunds’ personnel file, states that he used “poor judgment’’ in making the suspension, and that he did not follow the city’s disciplinary procedures.
Edmunds suspended Moye for two days without pay. But after the South Florida Times reported the situation on its Web site last week, Edmunds downgraded the suspension to a written counseling, and stated in a follow-up memo that, “I see the need for correction.’’
Edmunds, who was appointed to the $80,248.06-a-year job as acting parks and recreation director on Jan. 5, 2009, could not be reached for comment. He did not respond to several emails about the action taken against him.
Noland is now reportedly seeking to meet with Moye to discuss the matter, but Moye has declined the offer.
Neither Noland nor Mahaney could be reached for comment.
It is unclear whether Edmunds will continue in the role of acting parks and recreation director, or what impact the written counseling may have on his possible appointment to the permanent job.
“On August 3, 2009 you suspended Cassandra Moye, Maintenance Worker I Part-Time, for two days without pay,’’ Mahaney’s memo to Edmunds states. “The City’s disciplinary procedures (copy attached) mandate that all disciplinary reprimands that involve suspension without pay must be coordinated with the Human Resources Department and approved by the City Manager.’’
Mahaney’s memo continues: “This action [Moye’s suspension] was taken without consultation with the Human Resources Department and without City Manager approval. I believe poor judgment was used in your haste to resolve this matter.”
Mahaney also wrote in the memo, “Your professional qualifications, outstanding performance and dedication to the City of Deerfield Beach are highly valued. If I can be of any assistance to you as you continue to develop in your role as Acting Director of Parks and Recreation, please do not hesitate to consult with me.’’
“Even the wording of her reduced punishment, the counseling letter, is harsh compared to the one that was given to Mr. Edmunds, who is the one that caused all of this,’’ Pelt said. “His was gentle and included praise for his work. Cassandra has received a number of honors, but yet, none of that is included in her counseling letter and this is a problem.’’
Moye said she was unaware of Edmunds’ counseling letter until a reporter contacted her. She said she also does not know whether she will be reimbursed for the two days she was suspended without pay following the Aug. 3 incident.
Moye is currently pursuing restitution through her employees union.
“I think he needs it, but it’s not adequate,” Moye said of Edmunds’ counseling. “Maybe he needs some time off, to think about what he did. If he did this to me, what else will he do if he gets the job permanently?’’
A union official confirmed that the mayor contacted the union about meeting with Moye.
Moye said, “I’ve thought about it, but she did not want to meet when it first happened, and I’m still fighting the counseling they gave me, so no, I won’t meet with her.’’
The issue unfolded on the morning of Monday, Aug. 3, after Moye walked past Noland, another city employee, and Edmunds, who were talking on a sidewalk. Moye said neither she nor the mayor spoke to each other.
Less than an hour later, Edmunds summoned Moye into his office, which is located across town in the city’s maintenance facilities at 210 Goolsby Blvd. Edmunds gave her a stern counseling for not speaking to Noland, and issued the notice of suspension without pay.
Moye, 44, is a five-year maintenance worker in the city’s parks and recreation department. She earns $12.33 an hour keeping the city’s beach area clean, including public restrooms and pavilions.
In his initial suspension notice, Edmunds wrote that he relied in part on remarks that Noland made about Moye as the basis for taking disciplinary action against her.
“The Mayor indicated that this was not the first time that you had not acknowledged her when you came into contact,’’ Edmunds’ Aug. 3 memo stated. “This type of behavior will not be tolerated and is detrimental to the department.’’
But after the South Florida Times published reports about the issue, on Tuesday, Aug. 4, Noland issued her own memo, denying she made any such comments to Edmunds. That led union officials to begin questioning whether Edmunds submitted false information in an official city document. If so, he may be in violation of city personnel rules.
On Wednesday, Aug. 5, Edmunds issued a new memo, rescinding Moye’s suspension, denying that the mayor requested disciplinary action against Moye, and recommending that Moye’s punishment be downgraded to a written counseling.
By this time, Moye had already served her two-day suspension without pay—on Aug. 4 and 5.
Moye returned to work on Thursday, Aug 6. Pelt said Moye and other residents will be at the meeting.
“I’ve been getting calls from a lot of pastors and if the city chooses to continue handling this with disregard, we will be at every commission to keep it in front of the people,” Pelt said. “Everyone is welcome and I hope attend.”
Photo: George Edmunds