County employee faces ethics issues

The Escambia County’s Office of Compliance and Ethics has investigated whether Natural Resources RESTORE project manager Matthew Posner was paid to be the interim director of the Pensacola Perdido Bay Estuary Program even after a full-time director was hired.

According to the findings, the Estuary Policy Board hired Posner as interim in November 2019 after Jim Trifilo resigned. Posner was given a stipend of $802.40 per bi-weekly pay period for the additional work. Donald Kilborn was hired and began working on 12/1/2020. However, Posner continued to be paid through Oct. 15, 2021 – $16,850.40.

Earlier this month, Posner submitted an amended budget for the Pensacola Perdido Bay Estuary Program that included a senior advisor position for $36,590. Assistant County Administrator Chips Kirschenfeld, Posner’s supervisor, told Posner to change the budget to the correct salary for a part-time senior advisor. Kirschenfeld has previously told Posner that his paychecks would be garnished to repay the county.

Complicating the matter, Posner was given a 10% raise this year. Also, the Estuary program has received a $2 million EPA that has special reporting requirements. By garnishing Posner’s wages, Kirschenfeld hoped to avoid any issues when audited by the EPA.

In the report, Posner submitted documents that showed his continue to work – about 375 overtime hours – for the program after Kilborn was hired. Kirschenfeld testified to investigators that he believed Posner was the only one who knew about the unauthorized stipend checks from the program. As manager of the EPA grant, Posner should have known the stipends were not a valid expense.

Posner told investigators that he talked with Kirschenfeld, accountant Susan Holt and Kilborn several times about the stipend, asking if it was okay he received it after Kilborn came on board. He claimed to have been told that they didn’t see it as an issue since the work was continuing to be done. He said he was working 10-15 hours overtime a week to implement the Estuary program.

The investigators found Posner violated the BCC Human Resource policies, the BCC Code of Ethics and provisions of Florida Statues 112.313.

OCE recommended Interim County Administrator Wes Moreno and senior staff review the report to determine what to do with Posner, including whether to consult with the State Attorney.

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3 thoughts on “County employee faces ethics issues

  1. Spot on, Anonymous. Taking a page out of the EMS playbook,

    Gloria, the investigator is working the same game she did when she failed to investigate the EMS situation properly while at DOH, and then scored a nice place for herself in the previous administration’s Secret Police, the Ethics and Compliance office for her lack of effort.

    The investigation needs to focus on the higher-ups who made the call and now can’t remember anything about it.

  2. Sounds to me like they were getting Posner to do a lot of work for them and when someone questioned the budget, that the BOCC had already signed off and approved — they had to use a scapegoat and a fall guy to cover their asses (CYA) rather than do it correctly out the gate.
    Another one bites the dust and SAO delights in these things. EMS redux. And if it wasn’t on an email that Chips approved it then — Like in the movie Black Mass with Johnny Depp.. “It didn’t happen”.
    Another rising star — bright hard working employee caught in the web of the Underhill years. He is probably trying to take the eyes off his ethics complaint coming to a hearing in the next 70 days. Bender is just “yodiyo doe doe” palling along. UH UH UH. (While Bergosh is making a fool of himself posting about Horse dewormer on his blog)

    This type of employer foments the stereotype of the county working leaning on a shovel doing nothing, making 8, instead of working hard going above and beyond.

    You get rewarded this way instead.

    Merry freaking Christmas and Happy new year Matt.

    Matt you were very helpful, hope you find a better place for your talents and efforts and cowboy SAO doesn’t run amuck trying to make a name for himself.

  3. An audit of all of these grants need to be done. There are a lot of people living high off the hog.

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