I dislike negative campaigning, but if you are to evaluate who is best qualified for mayor, we have to look at what we have now.
I am going to share documents any member of the public can obtain but have not been universally shared because, well, no media regularly covers our city. So I gotta be the bad guy and for a second pull away my focus, which is explaining the good I can do for this city. At least I’ll put my name on it, rather than hide behind a third party.
Note that to better read the letters and graphics, click directly on them and they will enlarge.
Stoner increased her car allowance and did not reveal it
Mayor Lynn Stoner confirmed she increased her auto allowance without city council approval, despite warnings from two city officials that she was in violation of city Resolution 6661. Then she fired one of the officials, HR director Margie Moale, who later settled a wrongful termination suit for $50,000, the most a mayor can approve without city council approval.
At the Sept. 11, 2019, meeting, during budget approval discussion council member Denise Horland presented an email from CAO Horace McHugh, dated Dec. 7, 2018, — the request came only a month after Stoner was elected — and sent to Moale. McHugh states she is not authorized to give Stoner an increased car allowance because such approvals must go through city council during the annual budget process. He cites 6661. Stoner, who was copied in on the email replies, “You work for me, not for Horace.” (Horace left in about March 2020 for Coral Springs.)
The money soon then went through without her consulting the council, although a July 29 video tape of the meeting shows Stoner untruthfully saying she did not receive an increased car allowance. (She started with $350 a month, said she did a survey and usual and prevailing is $500 a month.)
Then on the Sept. 11 tape she says she did get the money “after two respected officials said I could.” (Not true, as the email shows.) You should probably watch the tape, starting at 1:36. Even if you read no further, you should see with your own eyes.
She first says it’s not compensation, then says sarcastically to Horland “your concern is noted.”
She denies she was trying to bully council or work around them. In the tape, council president Ron Jacobs said, “if you were on council and the mayor did that, you’d go ballistic.” After discussion with council, Stoner wrote donations to charity to cover the extra money she had collected.
You can argue about a person’s style, and their policies. Lying and increasing your own revenue, though, is not negotiable.
Stoner violated charter and revised her reports to win 2018 election
The OIG’s investigation determined that Mayor Stoner violated the city charter and code, engaging in further misconduct, when she unilaterally created and staffed the two deputy or assistant city administrators and created their job descriptions.
The mayor’s conduct exceeded the scope of her authority and infringed on the scope of the council’s authority.
Charter § 14 clearly defined the mayor’s duties and authority.
The report also stated that Stoner overspent on her campaign to get elected, then did the math in reverse afterward to cover up her actions. The matter has been sent to the Broward State Attorney’s office, and I would expect Stoner to face some kind of penalty. She won the mayor job by only 170 votes (garnering 30.8 percent).
Read the entire report at https://www.broward.org/InspectorGeneral/Publications/20201105OIG19004MFinalReport.pdf
City employee survey puts her approval at 38 percent
The city conducted an employee survey and the results show the employees have little respect for this mayor. They feel relatively good about their supervisors and department heads, but there’s a personality problem with the person at the top.
Stoner missed out on a $1.1M appropriation
Gov. Rick Scott approved a $1.1 million appropriation for public safety improvements in Plantation. The city had until July 1, 2019, to spend the money. Our mayor, apparently not knowing of the deadline, let the deadline pass, and most of that money is gone.
Watch the video at about the 1:14 mark. Council member Denise Horland notes that money to build Fire Station 1 is no longer there. In this meeting, on Sept. 18, 2019, she notes that the state money expired back on July 1. Stoner does not take ownership of the mistake, which is yet another difference between our styles.
Also: The city paid a $50,000 settlement to former HR Director Margie Moale because the mayor wrongfully terminated her. ($50K is the most a mayor can spend to settle such a suit without requiring approval from the council.)
Employees complain of Stoner being a bully
Several comments in the employee survey refer to bullying and attached is a letter from Otis Thomas. The mayor, with council approval, created the procurement director department head position. And to include the other side, I think it was a good idea. Combining forces and adding more power to procurement likely has meant that we’re getting better deals on things we buy, saving tax (residents’) money. But Thomas points out here some instances where the situation has been unbearable. (Anecdotally, I have collected other tidbits and examples from other employees.)
Stoner fails to complete evaluations
A mayor is required to evaluate our 13 department heads annually. The evaluation helps the public see why a person was given a raise (or not) and is also valuable to the employee. (I used to sweat over being evaluated and looked at it as a time to have a heart-to-hear with my supervisor and/or find ways to do better.
Councilmember Denise Horland led the inquiry and I came in later, inquiring about the lack of evaluations some time ago. I brought it up at council meetings in fall 2021 and I could not get a straight answer.
So I filed a public records request for two long-time employees — Finance’s Anna Otiniano and the library’s Monika Knapp — so I could compare and contrast the evaluations they were due with what prior mayors had done. The email from the city clerk confirmed that no evaluations were done in 2019 nor 2021 and other department heads had similiar gaps. (So how do I, or the public, know whether or not they are doing well?) And note the extreme brevity from the mayor. She really typed only one sentence. And also note that the due date was Oct. 1 for their evaluations; these were completed six months later, in May.
The other side
I used to say Lynn Stoner often makes good hires. Jason Nunemaker as CAO comes to mind, and while, yes, a significant number of people are gone, often they have been replaced with better employees. But now I evaluate her success rate at about 50-50, which I can expound upon if asked.
Lynn Stoner has been active in working for funding for roads and other development projects. I like to say that “she sees things the rest of us don’t.” She also innovated the “Light up City Hall” which brings a sense of community to our city each December.
Lynn Stoner helped me greatly during my 2018 campaign. I am grateful for the tips and advice she gave me, including one night where I was demoralized by meeting difficult residents while canvassing. She invited me to her house and told me to hang in there. She also speaks well at public appearances, such as teaching Plantation Middle students how to shake hands. But I am the better candidate because the other items, listed above, are well below the standards we should hold for the role of mayor of Plantation.