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Ethics charges dropped against former Holly Hill City Manager Oel Wingo | News-JournalOnline.com

October 22, 2012

Ethics charges dropped against former Holly Hill City Manager Oel Wingo | News-JournalOnline.com.

 

Published: Friday, October 19, 2012 at 9:34 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, October 19, 2012 at 9:34 a.m.

Former Holly Hill City Manager Oel Wingo was cleared Friday of complaints she broke state ethics laws when she asked city department heads to sign pre-dated employment agreements in 2010 and later ordered them destroyed.

The Florida Commission on Ethics voted unanimously Friday in Tallahassee to adopt a state administrative law judge’s recommendation the complaints filed against Wingo by the Holly Hill City Commission that fired her be dismissed.

“It looked like there was a lot of politics mixed into this thing,” Ethics Commissioner Matthew Carlucci said just before the panel voted on the judge’s recommendation.

Wingo, who is now the interim city manager in Williston, didn’t return repeated phone calls seeking comment.

The City Commission fired Wingo in November 2010 just two hours after Mayor Roy Johnson and newly elected Commissioner Donnie Moore were sworn into office. The former assistant city manager of Palm Coast had only been on the job since January.

At issue in the ethics complaint were employment agreements Wingo asked city department heads to sign in July 2010. They allowed department heads to resign and collect four months of pay and benefits if their pay was reduced by a greater percentage than across-the-board cuts for other city employees.

The agreements first presented in July were originally dated May, based on an earlier agreement with the public works director, but eventually were replaced by updated versions. Wingo ordered the May-dated documents destroyed.

Wingo’s contract with the city allowed her to collect six months’ severance pay if her salary was reduced by a greater percentage than the average reduction for all department heads. A city commissioner had suggested in a July 27, 2010 workshop that Wingo’s pay be cut 20 percent and the department heads’ salaries also be reduced.

In its ethics complaint, the City Commission charged Wingo had created the agreements “presumably for the purpose of protecting and insulating herself from a possible reduction in pay and benefits.” It also accused her of falsifying public documents by backdating the original agreements and ordering the destruction of public records.

Administrative Law Judge W. David Watkins ruled those charges weren’t backed up by evidence in a two-day April hearing on the complaint.

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