FOX4 Investigation: County commissioner is also city manager in same county
Clewiston, Fla. -
Can a county commissioner also run the largest city in that same county? That's what's happening in Hendry County after Commissioner Al Perry took the city manager job in Clewiston. The answer is no, according to the Florida Attorney General's Office which sent FOX4 a copy of the law which points out that it's clearly against the law. But, having said that it's apparently not clear to some.
"Did you know before you took this job that you needed to step down from the County Commission job? No I didn't. I did not," said Al Perry. Perry has been a county commissioner since the end of 2010, or almost three years. When the job came open for a new city manager in Clewiston, over six months ago, he went after it and got it. "In the past we've had city employees that have been county commissioners," explained Perry."
The county commission job pays about $33,500 a year. The city manager job pays $95,000 a year. That's the job he's keeping. He's been doing both since he started the city manager's job April 18th. "Is there any reason why you didn't resign then from the county commission office?" asked reporter Dave Culbreth. "Uh, I wasn't fully aware it was a conflict of any sort at the time and we never really did get a formal opinion," said Perry. "We felt it may be a conflict but there were some things I wanted to get done."
City Commissioner Jose Rodriquez backed Perry, "I know it seemed like there was a conflict, there is no conflict, there's no malice."
But it is against the law. Florida's Attorney General says giving preferential treatment to one entity over the other is the issue. Last month, Perry says he told the attorney general's office that he will resign as county commissioner at the end of this month. "I would never hurt Clewiston or help LaBelle or vice-versa, so it wasn't a big concern of mine."
You noticed Perry's salary as the Clewiston City Manager is $95,000 a year. That's for a city with a population of 7,700 people. Also tonight, there's no word on what the county is going to do for a new commissioner.