I saw this article in the Keynoter/Reporter a week back or so.
A former city of Marathon department head filed a federal lawsuit against her old employer claiming harassment at City Hall and a smear campaign that resulted in her firing in 2015.
Zully Hemeyer, former director of the Utilities Department, wants her job back, back pay, benefits, attorneys fees, punitive damages and the city and its employees to not violate her civil rights. She filed the federal lawsuit alleging her rights were violated under the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
As you might recall, the City of Marathon had some urgent issues with its wastewater system. So much so, that they entered into a consent agreement with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP). It seems those issues are well on the way to being resolved, but the legal and political fall-out continues.
Marathon’s wastewater troubles boiled over on Hemeyer’s watch. But she was there a long time – six years. How long ago did Marathon’s troubles develop? What role did Hemeyer play? Obstructionist? Frustrated whistle blower? Innocent scapegoat? Some combination thereof? Perhaps the legal proceedings will shed some light on that.
For right now, we can construct a timeline of events. This will be quite a project so I’ll break it up and go plant by plant. I’ll start with Little Venice. Here’s a list of documents I found on FDEP’s Oculus website. I didn’t include everything, just the stuff I thought was relevant. I added a description of the source, so people can check into things themselves if they want.
Zully Hemeyer was Marathon’s Utilities Director from 2009 to 2015. That’s the yellow-highlighted area. Dan Saus took over in August 2015. Roger Hernstadt was Marathon City Manager from 2010 to January 2014. Hernstatdt’s tenure is outlined in red. Mike Puto was the City Manager from January 2014 to sometime after April 2015 – outlined in blue. New City Manager, Charles Lindsay, started work in January 2016.
There’s not enough information to draw any conclusions, but here are couple of observations.
- Little Venice gets inspected a lot! The Key Largo plant is inspected about once a year. Big Coppitt is inspected at a much lower frequency than Little Venice – despite missing effluent quality requirements almost every other month. Perhaps its because Little Venice is in a highly visible location? Or maybe the FKAA works the levers in Tallahassee?
- Little Venice appeared to be in good shape when Hernstadt left. There were two clean compliance inspections back-to-back. There were some compliance issues prior to that, but they seem to have been corrected in a timely manner.
- When things unraveled, they unraveled quickly. The City received a compliance assistance offer in July 2015. The results of a compliance inspection were attached, which detailed significant issues with sampling equipment among other problems.
The bottom line is the Little Venice Plant had its ups and downs throughout Hemeyer’s tenure, but things really seem to have gone down hill after Hernstadt’s departure.
This is just a quick snap shot of one plant. There’s a lot more to weed through. A lot.