EMS debacle just got weirder; Time for Gilley to eat a frog

Escambia County’s Emergency Medical Services has been in disarray for over a year. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has an open investigation into the department. There have been accusations and counter-accusations, finger-pointing by a couple county commissioners, attorneys hired and lawsuits filed.

PNJ’s Jim Little reports today on the double-secret job evaluation of County Medical Director Dr. Rayme Edler that appears to have been deliberately hidden from Dr. Edler, the commissioners, public and media for over six months.

The evaluation was ordered by then-Interim County Administrator Matt Coughlin–who has since left the county and is in line to be the next director of the Pensacola International Airport– and conducted by Interim Public Safety Director John Doss–who is in DROP and will retire soon– in late June, days before Janice Gilley took the reins as county administrator. The report–which rated her a two on a scale of five– was hand-delivered to Coughlin, and the only digital copy was on Doss’ computer, according to the county’s new HR director.

Ironically the evaluation came weeks after Corrections Director Rich Powell gave Edler a very positive rating – which was shared with Edler and placed in her personnel file.

In an email to PNJ, Gilley didn’t say when she became aware of the double-secret evaluation or who else in county government knew about it. She simply said that her leadership is “committed to making sure the HR policies and procedures are followed which include an annual evaluation and quarterly reviews.”

Gilley needs to be more transparent. It’s time to quit hiding behind the FDLE investigation and explain what she knows about this bizarre retaliation — when she and others learned about it and how she dealt with it. The public deserves answers.

When she gave her 100-day report last November, the county administrator said, “I will label this organization as dysfunction junction in many ways, not because of the people but because of the processes that I think are lacking at this time.”

She doesn’t need to add to the “dysfunction junction.”

Gilley’s signature public statement to commissioners is: “When I came on my first day, I told you that I was here to eat frogs and get bloody in the arena, and I’m still in that position. I’m still willing to eat your frogs, and I’m still willing to get bloody in the arena.”

Well, Ms. Gilley, its’ time to eat the EMS frog, get “bloody” and share the truth.

Good job, Jim Little.


1 thought on “EMS debacle just got weirder; Time for Gilley to eat a frog

  1. Dear Rick’s blog,
    I am grateful to you and to Jim Little for covering this story. There’s actually far more to it. Please see the below email that I sent Mr. Little and the County this morning in response to the article.

    These are very serious matters that need to be rectified for the health of the County and our community:

    “Secret Job Evaluation”

    Melissa Pino Tue, Mar 3, 2020 at 6:41 AM
    To: Jim Little
    Cc: Lisa Nellessen Savage , Janice Gilley , Chips Kirschenfeld , Jana Still , John Dosh , Chief William Powell , Bob Dye , District 5 Steven Barry , Lumon May , Jeff Bergosh , Robert Bender , Alison Rogers , Charlie Peppler , Kia Johnson , Melissa Pino
    cc: Lisa Savage, Administration, HR, Public Safety, Corrections, Risk Management, BOCC, County Attorney
    re: https://www.pnj.com/story/news/2020/03/02/secret-job-evaluation-conducted-escambia-county-medical-director/4892726002/

    Dear Mr. Little,

    Thank you for your continued attention to the ongoing troubles in Escambia County’s Public Safety Division.

    While media attention to these matters is beneficial, the article contains a number of inaccuracies that need correction. Those inaccuracies don’t seem to be the result of shoddy or biased reporting, but too weighted a reliance on information and opinion coming from whatever official channels at the County.

    In general, the article rests on the following premise:

    “The revelation is latest in a growing list of apparent violations of the county’s own human resources policies AS THE COUNTY WAS TRANSITIONING ADMINISTRATIONS” (my emphasis).

    Mr. Little, violations of the county’s own human resources policies have continued to this day under the current administration and HR direction. This is not a matter of a problem that was put to rest under current leadership—far from it.

    In fact, having followed these matters closely, with continued concern as both a citizen taxpayer and an advocate for County staff’s right to due process, the only conclusion I can see is that the problems have proceeded apace since the change-over in administration.

    Nobody should discount the numerous issues that Ms. Gilley had to confront upon taking the helm at the County, and the community should continue to be aware of the myriad and serious challenges she had to confront in assuming the role.

    This situation didn’t just spring up of a day with interim administration, however much it has been represented as such from various corners.

    Sadly, the due process portion of the challenges has not, to date, been rectified by the current administration.

    The very serious lawsuit that the County taxpayers haven’t even begun to foot the bill for did not happen as a result of the tenure of Amy Lavoy, Matt Coughlin, or John Dosh. It ultimately resulted from the failure of current Administration and HR to correct the issue, despite having months on end of multiple opportunities and junctures to rectify what had come before.

    Currently, there are still not 5, but 6 harassment complaints at the County—one of them sexual harassment—that have never received their due process. The pending suit pertains to only one of these instances, and it came after months of attempts at resolution through every available avenue for process, with continued violations of that process occurring under *current* administration and HR.

    Among these violations is the refusal of the current HR to accept new evidence from an employee willing to bring it.

    Then there came the absurd opinion that an employee cannot have a “second” appeal, when there was never a prior appeal to begin with. This HR opinion was backed by the County Attorney, despite two other attorneys in that office having previously written legal opinions in support of the employee’s claims.

    Not for a moment do I believe the story about a super-secret hand-off of a super-secret memo.

    Do you know why such things arise, Mr. Little? Because good people are job-scared at Escambia County. And for good reason. Just recently, a paramedic with impeccable credentials—one who is not under investigation, and was not under any sort of progressive disciplinary action—was terminated abruptly, with no warning, and simply told that the position was being eliminated. This supervisor was not offered the option of continuing on as a paramedic, at a time when Escambia County can scarce afford to lose another one. To the best of my understanding, the position might have been protected, and the terms of the termination remain unknown, as my public records request on the documentation has not been answered.

    In addition to the memo, there was also an official evaluation conducted around that time—when annual evaluations were happening as a matter of course—that corroborated the performance documented in the memo. There was nothing “super secret” about this evaluation, but I note that it didn’t make its way into the article.

    The medical directorship of (1) the jail and (2) EMS, Fire, and Life Guard are two very different things, Mr. Little. People far more knowledgeable about these matters than myself question the wisdom of previous administration’s decision to fold these two positions under a single individual. The two positions are in fact so distinct that they are governed by two different state statutes. The statute governing the medical directorship of the jail, for instance, *requires* administrative action, up to and including termination. The statute governing the EMS directorship, on the other hand, expressly forbids it.

    Therefore it is not surprising that evaluations of performance of the two different roles would result in differing—even widely differing—assessments.

    The employees of Escambia deserve to be able to go about their duties and service to the citizens of this County without the fear of neglected process, retaliation, or recrimination. Hopefully, with continued attention, there will finally be a resolution to the continual challenges of this nature they are still experiencing.

    As an aside, I’ll continue to ponder why some citizens who speak publicly to various issues at the County are labelled “advocates” while others are labelled “activists.”

    Ms. Savage, I have cc’d you on this email as I’d like you to consider it a letter to the editor, and hope you will consider printing it in the PNJ in response to Mr. Little’s article.

    Melissa Pino

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