It's a bad day to be Mike Good. The longtime Hallandale Beach city manager is facing termination following a vote this afternoon by city commissioners. At today's meeting, those commissioners complained about his being absent from City Hall and his spotty record for communicating with city staff and commissioners. Ultimately, they voted 4-1 to place an item on the next meeting's agenda that would start the dismissal process.
The vote marks a stunning collapse in what seemed a rock-solid consensus in support of Good. Only a single commissioner, Keith London, has consistently criticized Good's performance in the past; the other commissioners, including Mayor Joy Cooper, have traditionally attacked London in their efforts to defend Good.
So why the sudden reversal? Cooper didn't immediately return a call seeking comment, but it's possible that she changed her mind about Good when she was forced to defend Good's hiring of a realtor who made a small fortune by selling the city a piece of land.
That realtor's name is Joe Kessel, and Juice first reported on Kessel's connection with Good a month ago. Neither Good nor Kessel disclosed the realtor's consulting contract during moments when Kessel made public remarks at Hallandale Beach meetings. It's not clear whether Good told the commissioners that he had signed Kessel to a contract worth up to $36,000 annually -- the city manager definitely neglected to tell Commissioner London, who's been on the warpath since he found out.
Cooper, it seems, defends Good as a reflex, and when I reached her last month, she claimed to be aware of Good's having drawn up a contract with Kessel. But she wasn't sure when she knew, and Cooper ultimately cut the conversation short. The mayor told me that I should talk to Good. When I told her that Good hadn't responded to my messages, she blamed it on my being unworthy of Good's time.
But according to reports, Good's unwillingness to respond to media calls was also mentioned during today's discussion about his dismissal.
The more the mayor defended Good, the worse it got. In seeking to contain the scandal over Kessel's contract, she mentioned in a Juice comment that Kessel helped the city acquire a piece of land for a park. That disclosure led to this post, in which Juice revealed that Kessel collected more than $15,000 in private commission on that deal. (Kessel hung up the phone when Juice contacted him with questions about the city's park deal.)
If the mayor did, in fact, know of Good's hiring Kessel -- and if that real estate deal constitutes an illegal conflict of interest -- then that means the mayor bears some responsibility for Kessel's activity. The specter of personal legal trouble has a way of creating distance between past allies.
UPDATE: In the original post, I forgot to mention the single vote in support of Mike Good. It came from Dottie Ross, the Hallandale Beach commissioner who skipped last week's special meeting on the city manager's employment. (She was reportedly upstairs in City Hall but refused to come to commission chambers -- as a result, the meeting lacked a quorum and was canceled.)
Another item of interest. According to London, who spoke by phone during a break in the commission meeting, the mayor told the other commissioners that Good had refused to put an item on the agenda dealing with his dismissal. Further, he refused to place the item on a supplemental agenda. This is apparently the reason that the subject came up under "non-agenda items."
Good has been city manager since 2002 and worked in the city's public works division for over a decade before that. The commission will vote again on Good's future in two weeks.