January 10, 2018
Letter to the Editor
The Jasper News
521 Demorest St. SE
Live Oak, FL 32064
The White Springs Town Council Meeting held on January 9, 2018, provided the latest example of intentional misconduct by Town Manager Stacy Tebo who forced Fire Chief Kevin Pittman to resign amid an ambush of false and misleading allegations. The immediate impact was the resignation of the seven (7) members of White Springs Fire Rescue who were in attendance. Each Fire Rescue volunteer came up to the microphone, stated his name, his resignation, and turned in his equipment in a pile in front on
The rest of the Fire Rescue volunteers who were unable to attend the meeting have all resigned. White Springs is now without Fire Rescue. One former senior Fire Rescue volunteer contacted Hamilton Co. Dispatch to advise that White Springs cannot respond, and all calls need to be directed to Lake City or Genoa.
The destruction of White Springs Fire Rescue stems from Tebo’s intentional misconduct, mismanagement, and the fraud and abuse associated with newly acquired Emergency Response Vehicles from USDA-RD. The intent of the application to USDA-RD was for two (2) quick emergency response vehicles; one was for use by the chief, and the second vehicle was to be housed 24/7 at the fire station for quick response to emergencies.
When the emergency vehicles were delivered to White Springs, Town Manager Tebo correctly assigned the first vehicle to Fire Chief Kevin Pittman. However, Tebo inappropriately assigned the second vehicle to town employee Andrew Greene (water/sewer operator) who holds the title of Asst. Chief. Tebo assigned the federally-funded vehicle to Greene at the request of Mayor Rhett Bullard, over the objection of Chief Pittman. There is widespread concern over Mayor Bullard’s role in this fraudulent act, as it appears to be based on his inappropriate personal relationship with Greene.
At the December 12, 2017 Council Meeting, all Members of White Springs Fire Rescue came forward with a Vote of No Confidence concerning Asst. Chief Andrew Greene. They described Greene’s lack of leadership, mismanagement, and poor policy decisions. The Fire Rescue Members were concerned that Town Manager Tebo was planning to remove Chief Pittman, and sure enough they were right.
We believe that these facts substantiate belief that Town Manager Stacy Tebo and Mayor Rhett Bullardviolated U.S. Code, Title 218, Section 1001 when they submitted the town’s Application for Federal Assistance SF-424, since the application ,”(2) makes
… materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation,” about the actual use being planned for the emergency response vehicles.
Illegal use of the second emergency response vehicle by Mr. Greene is an abuse, represents fraud, and is now clearly putting the citizens of Greater White Springs in harm’s way – we are now without Fire
Rescue. Not only does Mr. Greene use the emergency response vehicle for his daily job as water/sewer operator, he also drives the vehicle home to Lake City every day after work, where it remains at night, rather than at the White Springs Fire Rescue station. Citizens have photos of the vehicle driven by Mr. Greene in Lake City – enjoying lunch and visiting with family/friends.
The destruction of White Springs Fire Rescue by Town Manager Stacy Tebo is the latest in a growing list of misconduct and abuse being tolerated and supported by Mayor Rhett Bullard, Vice Mayor Tonja Brown and Councilman Willie Jefferson. Less than a year ago, Tebo was investigated about allegations made by an administrative employee of creating a hostile work environment. During her sworn
statement taken as part of the investigation, Tebo acknowledged her on-the-job drug use, and her personal dislike for Councilmember Helen Miller. That personal dislike was turned into allegations of
misconduct, and used to forfeit Miller from her seat on the Town Council, based on an inappropriate political vote by Bullard, Brown and Jefferson.
Clearly, the Town of White Springs as a government unit needs adult supervision in the form of an investigation by the State of Florida.
In 2013, we were shocked to learn that our volunteer fire department/station was going to be closed down due to lack of required state certified firefighters and the lack of a climate-controlled facility to house of fire truck / equipment. The then-Fire Chief resigned, and we were left to damage control. We
developed both immediate and longer-term plans to deal with the emergency. Part of that damage control was reaching out to town volunteers, to Stephen Foster State Park, and to state and federal
agencies. Everyone responded, and we were able to upgrade the entire fire rescue department. With the support of the Florida Dept. of Economic Opportunity, we were able to access CDBG funding to
construct our new fire station. With Stephen Foster park volunteer Pittman, we were able to recruit a highly capable and robust team of certified fire fighters. And with USDA-RD we thought we were going
to acquire much needed emergency response vehicles.
Now, with a Town Manager who was terminated by her previous municipal employer for insubordination, lying, and creating false narratives, we find ourselves in worse shape than before. Truly
mystifying to many is the continuing support that Tebo receives from Mayor Bullard, Vice Mayor Brown and Councilman Jefferson. Just last month, with all the turmoil created by Tebo, these three elected officials voted to retain Tebo for another year as Town Manager.
Submitted by Dr. Helen Miller
PO Box 487, White Springs, FL 32096