Real News podcast: Rafferty takes the 401(a) case

Last Thursday, the Escambia Board of County Commissioners voted to hire the Levin Papantonio Rafferty law firm to represent it in the dispute with County Clerk Pam Childers. In August, Childers told the board that she wouldn’t accept the legal opinions the board obtained regarding the 401(a) retirement plan and said she had hired Matt Dannheiser to represent her.

Troy Rafferty is the lead counsel for the BCC and came on NewsTalk 1370 WCOA this morning.

“I think like a lot of other people in our community, we’ve been seeing this unfold in the news and in the county commission meetings, and you can’t sit back and just see an injustice happening and not do something about it,” said Rafferty. “That’s why we decided to go ahead and get involved.”

He believes that Childers has left the commissioners no other option than to go to court. She has chosen to not honor the county’s contract with the 401(a) vendor and not made the full monthly payments. Last Friday, she wrote a memo telling the board that she stop making any payments in 30 days.

“This is a matter that is going to have to go to the courts,” said Rafferty. “As I believe, at the last commission meeting, the clerk refused to take it to the attorney general to get an opinion. And so, it’ll be in the court system, and we’ll be representing the county commission.”

The Levin firm will represent the county commission for free.

“It’s going to be pro bono, meaning Escambia county taxpayers will not pay any legal fees for my firm,” said the attorney. “I think it’s, once again, as you watch this unfold in the press over the last several months, it’s just the right thing to do, Rick. And sometimes, that’s what you have to do, especially when you’re seeing this kind of stuff happen in your community, and you’re seeing the county commission. The way they’re being portrayed is just an injustice.”

Rafferty added, “What needs to happen is all of the politics and all of this just needs to go away, the politics that’s playing into this. Let’s go to court, let’s have a decision, and move forward with our community.”

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4 thoughts on “Real News podcast: Rafferty takes the 401(a) case

  1. I’m not sure if Arduini posted the actual video but he made posts making it sound like it was nefarious. People are easily fooled and seem to love to jump on the bandwagon of negativity.

    I just researched the page of the ethics committee myself last night and see one can view the videos and agendas. Underhill definitely was the one who said he came across the video and started the narrative.

    The Board of CC Censured him for his attacks on the attorney yet he still is posting notes on Escambia Citizen Watch continuing the same behavior and they should not ignore that. I’m not certain if they can censure him for the same thing twice.

    I think the ethics complaint from Bear to Underhill was supposed to be confidential unless they found probable cause. PNJ did a story about it last year. It was reported in this case it did not have to be confidential.

    I was disappointed it was not on the agenda, September 10, yet I’m not sure how that works. Bear seemed adamant it was happening this Friday.

    I hope Underhill is indicted and the Ethics Board/BOCC recommends his removal to the Governor and he is replaced by a competent leader, even for just this next year

    We don’t need this toxicity in the county government.

    Thanks for sticking to the facts Rick. I know I throw in opinion also.

    We appreciate you covering the county plus the poor journalist integrity of PNJ. They seemed to have backed off for some reason. Maybe our voices are important.

  2. Thanks to the lawfirm for representing us, the citizens, who have elected our representatives to the board and also wish to have them supported so they can do their jobs with the respect they deserve. He articulated it well.

  3. I’ve watched the video of Ethics meeting. The presentation was made by the Ethics staff. Commissioner Barry said a few words and was ready to answer questions. County Attorney Rogers said nothing. There was nothing nefarious happening.

    No one duped the Ethics Commission. No vote was taken on any possible 401(a) payments. No one on the Ethics Commission or staff thought the request for an opinion was coming from the entire county commission. These facts are indisputable.

    I have heard about an ethics complaint concerning Commissioner Underhill being investigated by the Ethics Commission, but it isn’t on the Ethics’s agenda for Sept. 10 that’s posted online.

  4. Lets not forget when the injustice was started. Underhill handed the Ethics Committee video from when Barry and Rogers went to Tallahassee for an opinion to Alex Arduini who tried to get this started in a bad light on facebook in April.

    They couldn’t get any traction so they kept bringing in up. The facebook page called Escambia Citizen Watch has devolved to mostly a handful that play along with Underhill’s toxic politics however if a person stumbles in there, not knowing the history they may be turned against the entire commission. They don’t like Bergosh at all and are even saying bad things about his Coffee with Commissioner outreach from this AM.

    David Bear has commented that the Ethics committee is meeting September 10 about Underhill but I looked on the Ethics site and don’t see it on the agenda. I hope you follow and report on that also. He is one of the few that hasn’t been blocked or thrown off the page.

    Rafferty in his last paragraph says it won’t be played in the media, however Underhill and the PNJ and Escambia Citizen Watch need to be countered because their disinformation and penchant for trying to control the narrative needs to be balanced so thank you for covering this.

    I’m anonymous because Underhilll and ECW and the medical director sued a citizen that opposed them for speaking out and it cost her about 200K to defend and others don’t have the funds to oppose them so a balance in the media is appropriate.

    I’m relieved this law firm is taking this on Pro Bono and that you are covering it. Of course we are able to go to the clerk site and read along on the cases.

    I would prefer not so many lawsuits with Escambia but they have to be settled once stirred up, they have to be answered.

    Childers continually saying one thing in the meeting and changing her mind just makes her look fickle.

    So, yes, settle it in court. but please report it here Rick.

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