Energize is a program of adisa logo

About Us | Contact UsConnect with Us 

Lauderdale volunteer program questioned

Back to Hot Topic

By Brittany Wallman, Sun-Sentinel

Copyright © 2004, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

The interim city manager, who touts "business as unusual," is advocating an "executive volunteer" squad that would include people like himself, who would "work" in City Hall for free and be able to dodge Government in the Sunshine laws. In internal e-mails obtained by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel under open records law, Silva proposed the executive volunteer idea as a way to take advantage of business, budget and other expertise in the community, without sticking to the rigid open government laws that keep discussions of advisory groups open to the public.

Top managers looked askance at Silva's plan, in part because some feel he has enlarged his role and overstepped his boundaries in the six months he's been running the city.

Silva said on Friday that he still thinks it's a good idea because city advisory boards are otherwise hampered.

"The only time they can discuss things or pulse and exchange views, exchange ideas, talk to other people, talk amongst themselves, is in a public meeting," he said.

Rather, he envisions corporate whizzes on loan from local companies, or retired experts or others, who would be free to mingle in the workplace, share ideas with employees, commissioners, managers and amongst themselves.

"These would not be like advisory bodies," he wrote in an e-mail to top managers, "but would be worker-bees that would not be covered by Sunshine Laws, except to the extent that employees are during the regular course of action."

"Is this my reward for 29 years of loyal service to the City I love?" he wrote to Silva Tuesday. "Is this because I have been outspoken in sharing my opinions, even when they may contradict your own?"

Larkin's response to the executive volunteers was that it was outside the scope of Silva's proper role.

"It is highly speculative to assume the new person coming in would want a group such as this running around his or her organization," he e-mailed to Silva.

Managers told Silva in a meeting that, among other things, they feared the volunteers would spy on employees and be used to carry out commissioners' wishes, even though commissioners are prohibited by charter from interfering in the workplace.

Silva's ultimate intentions also have been questioned, as employees wonder whether he'll depart when a manager is hired in the coming months.

Previously the Sun-Sentinel reported that Silva may want the job permanently. Though he took on the temporary role with a prohibition against applying, he wrote in an e-mail to one of the members of the Ad Hoc City Manager Recruitment Committee, that he would look "favorably" on the request if drafted.

Silva didn't say whether he wants to be drafted, saying Friday, "I'm not going there."

Asked if he considered himself a candidate for "executive volunteer," he paused for several seconds.

"Umm ... I really don't know," he said, then laughed, adding, "I'm just tired right now."

Again a pause. And Silva concluded: If he were asked to be an advisor, "I would not say no to that."

Copyright © 2004, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Back to Hot Topic