Davenport, FL | Periodically I receive emails from my blog and one, in particular, caught my eye from a person in my neighborhood. He voiced anger and concern about my latest blog post, a post that I published, which originated from an email I received from the group, Davenport Concerned Citizens (DCC).
The aim of my blog, Darhlene.com, is to provide perspectives about my world from a person living in Davenport, Florida. By posting the DCC email, I may have sounded like I have some allegiance to DCC. I do not. By that same token, I do not think DCC is an evil bunch of liars. I was simply posting an excerpt of their email.
I believe my anonymous emailer had some good points, so I decided to respond to that person below from my perspective. What I am posting, the following is my response.*
Our little town has a problem these days with allegations of collusion and malfeasance after both our city manager, Amy Arrington, and attorney, Kirk Warren, were terminated on April 24, 2017. Associated with these firings is a nasty series of arguments with everyone taking sides.
One Commissioner Tom Fellows decided on the collusion allegation, while — in an unusual move for a flock of reporters — our local newspaper, The Ledger, decided to take a side and it was with Fellows. The Ledger even went so far as to allege malfeasance, comparing the Davenport situation to the Opa-Locka scandal that occurred in 2016.
DCC Did Not Collude
I don’t purport to answer for the DCC and even, at times, have found myself stunned by the complete lack of believability of some of their emailed comments, but there is one thing I do know: from what I’ve witnessed, the writer of those DCC emails, mostly John Lepley,** is not open-minded when others challenge his deeply-held beliefs about our town. I agree with you, anonymous, Lepley’s “ego is a major problem.”
He assumes a fight or flight response when challenged and this stance comes out in many of their emails. Is that the image this group wants?
Public-relations-wise, DCC should do some serious soul-searching on its effect on our town. I agree with my writer that the division it created and the citizens it personally hurt during the election were over the top actions and should never happen in Davenport again.
Lepley’s other downside is that his only filter is his aviator glasses. I don’t believe for a second that Lepley was involved in any “middle man” activity, certainly not without the whole world finding out. In addition, except for helping his wife with his lazy arm, Lepley wasn’t much involved with the campaign. Any campaign.
But then there are the DCC emails with all their negativity and an almost authoritarian bent that I’m not surprised you suggested him in your email. Unbeknownst to him, Lepley’s been the talk of the town. Trust me, however, he’s not anyone’s middle man, or at least that’s what I believe.
Working with the Barbara Pierson campaign, I helped Darlene Bradley too, for safety’s sake. (It’s dangerous for a woman to campaign all by herself.) With each of them, I witnessed constituents asking for the terminations of Warren and Arrington. Over the years, I have also heard from former volunteers who said they stopped working with the city specifically because of the tactics of Arrington and Warren.
Bradley & Robinson are Aboveboard Too
What this leaves us with is alleged collusion between Bradley and Robinson, which really is a stretch, given Robinson’s background in law enforcement. Unless dementia’s eating his brain, it would be hard for anyone to explain why someone with Robinson’s distinguished background would do something like this so late in life. Disagree?
As for Robinson’s “losing sleep” over these terminations, it has been well-known, at least in my estimation, that constituents had been hammering for this to get done for years, if not the entire decade that Arrington was manager. I, myself, in my circle of friends, have found that the majority of my neighbors felt the same way too.
In the aftermath of this firing, I also confirmed that the manager’s office was found a mess of an alarming number of uncompleted tasks. In addition to Arrington making her office a storage room for boxes; what she tried to do to Jamestown recently, by attempting to get their restroom project postponed until next year; and the fact that nothing ever got done about the eyesores that are Holly Hill and The Hotel, plus many other reasons, I’d have to say that Arrington was not fit for her job. Ever since Bradley became mayor, Arrington had to work, a load that was clearly burying her each day she stayed in her position.
Who Decided to Tear Down our Beloved Water Tower?
Was it Amy or was it the commissioners? Technically the answer is our commissioners. They made the final decision and they were also the ones who didn’t lift a finger to get that tower maintained. Did Arrington have anything to do with the tower’s final destruction?
During her tenure, especially early on, Arrington had the ability to recommend measures be taken to maintain our tower for posterity. She didn’t. Like our former Commissioners, she never lifted a finger either to impress the importance of having our tower maintained. For that, Arrington must bear the blame.
Does Fellows Have a Right to Talk?
I agree with you, writer, that Bradley has no authority to deny Fellows’ discussion of this issue in future meetings. If Fellows wants to fight about this a little longer, he surely has that right. A dead horse, though, comes to mind.
But for now, Fellows needs to proverbially pee or get off the pot. He threatened to file a Sunshine Law complaint. I don’t think he has the evidence to prove it but if he does actually file his complaint, I doubt it will pass legal muster. (You with me on this prediction?)
If he doesn’t file that complaint by the next commission meeting, I’d certainly have to wonder why he decided to make such a stink of these firings. I’m not holding my breath.
Is Davenport Still a Company Town?
You are completely right, my anonymous writer. While Lepley likes to bring up Davenport’s history as a company town, I agree with you. A “company town” means that a business is controlling the town. “It” no longer is and hasn’t been for some time.
Like you, writer, I too believe there no longer exists “an elite class trying to run the town for their own benefit at the expense of denying ordinary citizens their rights and needs. That may have been the case 20 plus years ago when Holly Hill and the McKnight’s were powerful but that hasn’t been the case for a long time.” I believe that “the elite” that everyone seems like to talk about were crushed during Bradley’s first term as mayor.
With all my love, Darhlene Z!
* The original email was withheld to protect the identity of the writer.
** With all due respect to his privacy, Lepley is a former commissioner, one of the founders of DCC, and a very public person at commission meetings. His inclusion in this post was in reference to the email received.