Cullen's First Letter
In her bid to become the Brevard County Tax Collector, Lisa Cullen sent out mailings that stated, "Lisa Cullen has a plan to immediately make the Tax Collector's Office more efficient and cost effective."1 I had met Lisa Cullen at a rally for J. Roger Shealy and she said she was a conservative. She said this to my face. Problem is: she isn't. She brought in the union to the TC office, costing the Brevard County taxpayers over $300,000 in legal costs as the former Tax Collector, Mr. Rod Northcutt, tried to stave off the union. It was his choice to do so; saving taxpayer money was a priority with the man. He knew what the union would bring: higher wages, fewer work days as vacation days were introduced and other benefits were introduced that would cost Brevard County taxpayers many more dollars than the $300,000 initial investment in trying to keep the union out. Well, now Cullen is in, the union is also in and the first thing that Cullen did was to have a "let's give 'X' a job because she supported me" party. Cullen's cronies were given raises, new positions, and new titles: while those who didn't support her were (and continue to be) demoted. The next thing she did was close the TC office on a day it was traditionally open and have an "In-Service Day" for which employees were not taught how to do drivers' licenses (a Florida State tax; why is the County collecting that?), but were treated to a questionable, explilcit presentation on how to prevent their children from being internet predator victims and how to "get on the bus!"
With this background, I go into the first of the letters I received from Cullen after I found out about the union being brought into the TC office by Cullen. This is what she had to say to me when she found out that I was pulling my endorsement of her. Please remember that all I did here was copy and paste. These are her exact words; direct quote; correctly quoted. I did not change a thing except for the indentations of the numbered paragraphs and add the footnote numbers.
A quick explanation, for those who do not know: I was sent the PERC Recommended Ruling information by an anonymous whistleblower when they found out that I was supporting Cullen. I looked over the PERC Recommended Ruling and found several things I did not like and pulled my endorsement of Cullen. The PERC Recommended Ruling is linked below at Footnote 2 (Final Ruling linked at Footnote 3). I strongly recommend that you take the time to read both PERC rulings so that you will know the truth regarding the findings and rulings of the PERC.
I am a Conservative Republican and have not tried to misrepresent myself to you or anyone else. The conservative values that I believe in does not mean that I am able to blind myself to inequities and unfair practices that were present in the Tax Collector's Office and may still exist today. A full explanation of the events of 2006 in the Tax Collector's Office would be the size of a Harry Potter novel and I would never be able to get it to you before the deadline you gave me. So I will address as many as I can.
The anonymous letter writer blames the formation of the union squarely on me. I will never accept this responsibility for several reasons.
1) Before I ever spoke with an attorney or anyone else about the problems at the Tax Collector's Office, I went to Mr. Northcutt and told him about the inequities and unfairness perceived by our staff. Perception is reality and there were solid facts to support this perception. I did use my own pay situation as an example when I spoke to him. Many of the employees had discussed issues with their pay not being equitable as those hired at the same time with similar backgrounds and training. However, the pay could vary by thousands of dollars in some situations. They trusted me enough as their leader and supervisor, to tell me about how they felt and I knew it was my responsibility to report that back to Mr. Northcutt. I did just that. I used myself as an example and did later receive a substantial raise because of the Cody Pay Study implemented by the County. I am glad that I never shared those names of the other employees with Mr. Northcutt. Knowing the toxic environment I endured after that meeting, I would have hated myself for putting someone else in the position of the wrath that came down on me. Even so, on several occasions, I addressed concerns about pay inequity, promotional opportunities and favoritism with him. He refused to listen or act. The employees felt they had no chance for resolution and the union process began. The vote for unionization in the office concluded over 8 months after I resigned my position with the Tax Collector's Office. Mr. Northcutt was the Tax Collector. Being such, he can lead and manage his offices in the manner he sees fit. I could not actively work to undermine the rights of others so I sought other employment. I supported the rights of employees and hoped that support would serve as a wake up call to Mr. Northcutt and he would work to resolve these issues. The issues weren't insurmountable, but Mr. Northcutt refused to address them at all. Mr. Northcutt had the power to control this situation and did not. Blame lies solely with him.
2) The PERC1,2 hearing was about charges brought by Mr. Northcutt against the union, not against me. I was not able to participate in the hearings, except as a witness. I did not have the right to respond to the allegations and untruths told about me in depositions because I was not on trial. I never went to Mr. Northcutt and made a full confession of my conspiracy against him. I did beg him to turn it around. The hearing narrowly focused on whether the union had used me and others in management for unionization of the employees. This has been one of the most frustrating things to go through and not be able to even defend what others are saying about you. It wasn't until the Bill Mick interview that I could finally publicly talk about signing the union card. It wasn't illegal as Laura Dils has alleged in her Bill Mick interview. I signed that card hoping this would finally be the wake up call Mr. Northcutt needed. I hoped he would address the issues. The opportunity was there. The employees wanted him to listen and talk to them. He didn't.
3) PERC1,2 found for the employees. On page 12 of the Hearing Officers recommendations he states that the majority of the complaints against me occurred prior to PERC determining if I could be part of the bargaining unit. Until that occurred, I had the right to participate in union formation activities. That is why Mr. Northcutt's claim failed. The anonymous writer conveniently leaves this out. My intentions and actions were to show Mr. Northcutt the serious nature of our staff's concerns. I wanted him to take action and get the situation under control before it was too late.
4) The anonymous writer surmises the reason there are no current meetings on going between Mr. Northcutt and the union is because they are awaiting the election results and for me to take over. According to one of the Tax Collector Employee union representatives I spoke with just yesterday, they are trying to get Mr. Northcutt to come back to the bargaining table with them. They have only two issues yet to resolve - Pay and a Lay Off Policy. It seems Mr. Northcutt had said that the Department of Revenue had told him that he could not negotiate raises unless the County Commission approved a raise for all employees. The Department of Revenue has refuted any such claim. Looking back, his tactic is to blame everything on someone else. As far as the signing bonus issue, I was told this was brought up in a heated discussion and is not even an issue that the Tax Collector union representatives want brought up again. I did not agree with the signing bonus issue and am glad it has been put to rest. For the record, I would not agree to it.
5) I have not and will not promise any union anything other than I will respect and treat employees fairly. I have also been clear about monetary issues. I will not consider anything until a comprehensive audit and review of the organization is complete. I will work within my budget - a reasonable, fiscally conservative budget. I have received the support of the PBA, PEA, AFL-CIO, FOP, Melbourne Area and Space Coast Realtor Associations, Ronald Reagan Republican Assembly of the Space Coast (CONSERVATIVE Republicans who also endorse and support Roger Sheely and have reviewed these issues about the Tax Collector's Office with me), and Brevard County Fire Fighters. I have these endorsements because they recognized that I am the person who is most qualified and has the experience to lead this office beginning on day one. Please note these are the only groups to screen candidates to date. Other than the PEA, none have an interest in this race, except to see the best candidate is elected.
Sheriff Parker faced much of this in first election 4 years ago. The Brevard County Sheriff's Office won the right after a fierce legal battle with the then Sheriff Williams to be the first Sheriff Office in Florida to unionize. Sheriff Williams had not resolved the union contract issues and Jack Parker ran with a platform that included partnering with the union to resolve the issues and bring the department back to serving the citizens of Brevard. He was endorsed by the PBA and AFL-CIO and was supported by Sheriff Office employees. Sheriff Parker worked within the good of his heart for his employees but stayed true to his conservative values. I intend to do the same. In fact, I have talked to Sheriff Parker about the union issue and how he handled it. I have appreciated his advice.
Linda, I hope you can see this attack for what it is. We have been hearing this from the Dils Campaign for some time. Mr. Northcutt does not want a true conservative who will take office and audit the organization. He has known me for over 20 years and he knows that I am saying exactly what I will do if elected - hence, his endorsement of his fellow and like-minded Democratic friend Laura Dils.
When I started my campaign for Tax Collector, I said I would run a clean campaign from start to finish. I have and will continue to do so. I have not spoken ill of Mr. Northcutt at any campaign event nor will I. I hate having to address these past issues like I have here. Not because I don't want talk about them but because it dredges up the old hurt and feeling. I worked for Mr. Northcutt for over 20 years. He promoted me many times. I trusted him. I felt like I had his trust and could talk to him about anything. I learned all too well and in a very hard way that he just didn't want hear anything that didn't agree with his point of view. I have long let what transpired between me and Mr. Northcutt flow under the bridge. Harboring ill will towards him or anyone I worked with is not who I am. I have been hurt by what happened many times over. I have learned from it and I am a better person because of it. I wanted to run for Tax Collector because I knew my education and experience make me qualified to be an effective Tax Collector from day one. I can give back to Brevard County for the many opportunities I was afforded by working at the Tax Collector's Office. Orange County now benefits from all the training and time invested in me by Brevard Citizens.
Our great General and former Secretary of State, Colin Powell, said - "The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help them or concluded that you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership." I stood by my moral and ethical convictions all the while being treated less that human by Mr. Northcutt and his attorney Michael Grogan. This experience has in no way altered my values as to how government should be fiscally responsible to the citizens it serves. It has reinforced them. Mr. Northcutt would have benefited from following doing the same and this entire situation would have never transpired.
I hope you choose not to publish this obviously skewed, well edited, anonymous letter from the Dil's campaign and that I have answered your questions and concerns. If you have other questions or want more information, please call me at 321-302-0005.
Thanks again for allowing me the opportunity to respond to your concerns.
Remember: Anyone who does not give you a wake-up call when they see you being stupid, self-destructive, or both, just plain doesn't care about you. It's those of us who do wake you up who care.
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