Pensacola

Schmitt vs. Hayward rises several questions

February 23, 2017

Now that Mayor Ashton Hayward is individually named a defendant in the lawsuit brought by former Fire Chief Matt Schmitt, the City -both Mayor and City Council- will be breaking new ground.

Should Ashton Hayward separate himself from the City’s defense and hire his own legal representation to avoid any conflict of interest. His interest and that of the taxpayers may not be the same.

Must he have Council approval for any further decisions regarding the case?

Can the mayor alone make the decision to appeal Judge Vinson’s ruling? Possibly if he pays for the appeal. After all, it involves his personal standing.

Who negotiates the settlement? Hayward might have a conflict because the settlement could possibly place the majority of the payout on the backs of the taxpayers, not him.

If the mayor pursues the appeal without Council input as he has done in other lawsuits, will anyone on the Council challenge the decision?

The same goes for any settlement offers.

What a mess.

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  • George Hawthorne February 23, 2017 at 7:15 pm

    Rick,

    You are absolutely correct regarding the “Conflict of Interests” between the interests’ of the City in defending itself from the actions of the Mayor. Clearly, the interests of the Mayor and the City are different and the Mayor will definitely “throw the taxpayer’s” money at a settlement that would clear him also. Clearly, he has violated city HR policies and federal laws and the city council has a duty to act on behalf of the City’s interest.

    Clearly, any attorney that is representing the “City” has to separate the Mayor’s actions and poor decisions that are in conflict to City regulations and policies and defend its client the City by claiming the Mayor was not authorized to take such actions in violation of City regulations and policies and other federal EEOC/Labor law violations.

    In fact, the City Council needs to ACT in the best interests for the CITY and TAXPAYERS as the elected governing body of the City and Hire outside legal counsel for the City that is separate from the Mayor’s personal attorney. Clearly, under the terms of the City Attorney employment contract clearly says that she represents the Mayor and the city doesn’t have an attorney advocating for its interests. Let Bob Kerrigan represent the Mayor, he had his hand in this fiasco.

    For the same lawyer to represent BOTH the City and the Mayor is an actual attorney “conflict of interest” that the city council must affirmatively waive by VOTE. Such a vote would be not only incompetent, but potentially, could make the city council people “personally liable” to a taxpayer lawsuit for not taking proper fiduciary actions as the governing body.

  • Me reality February 23, 2017 at 5:30 pm

    At some point, he has to be breaking the law…