Former Homestead City Manager George Gretsas had misconduct charges lodged against him by his employer the City Commission of Delray Beach on
August 24. He was suspended June 24 with pay when the Commission voted to remove him for cause.
By the terms of his employment agreement, Gretsas has sixty days after receiving written charges for a public hearing to be held. The Commission chose Friday October 23 at 10 am for the hearing, the earliest possible date.
Delray City Attorney Lynn Gelin issued two memos suggesting misconduct charges to file. Both were adopted by the Commission.
Attorney Gelin’s memo argued that Gretsas implemented management software “Basecamp”, designating himself as administrator. He thus controlled access to the data outside the City’s IT Department’s oversight. This action allegedly violated Florida Statute 119 on public records by compromising record-keeping and retention.
The City Attorney’s memo also states Gretsas installed a private network and modem in his office outside the City’s computer system.
The memo further states Gretsas commissioned the creation of a television studio in March 2020, directing staff purchases exceeding $25,000 for the equipment to outfit it. The purchases did not follow City procurement policies and violated City policy requiring departmental approval for purchases exceeding $2,500.
It is also alleged Gretsas hired Joshua Padgett as videographer for $50/hour without posting the position. Padgett’s wages were 20 percent greater than the minimum pay grade allowed without proper documentation. Gretsas was required to review and approve Padgett’s time sheets but allegedly failed to do so. The memo claims Padgett was well-known to Gretsas as an employee of the City of Homestead.
Gretsas also hired Jason King according to the memo. The City’s Utilities Department was ordered to reclassify a position to accommodate this hiring. Attorney Gelin’s memo states “King is well-known to Mr. Gretsas as he was also employed by the City of Homestead”.
Gretsas failed to relate any “exceptional considerations” for the higher salary as required for a 20 percent salary jump. The memo argues that this shows a “substantial disregard of the City’s interests, violated the City’s policies, and is misconduct under Florida statutes”.
In February, Gretsas contracted with Timothy Edkin to perform an assessment of the City’s IT Department to determine its effectiveness. The memo alleges he was paid $64,000 prior to issuing his final assessment report. Payment prior to receipt of the work supposedly violates Florida statute. Edkin was the person who installed the Gretsas’ private computer network, according to the memo. On June 5, Gretsas sent a letter of termination to a City employee accusing her of highly unethical conduct and making false charges. The letter was emailed to all department heads violating City policy of not discussing personnel discipline in public forums. One of the recipients shared the complaint with the media before the conclusion of the City’s investigation, which the memo concludes is a violation of Florida law.
Finally, the memo alleges Gretsas failed “to truthfully cooperate in the City’s formal investigation” in the personnel matter. The memo terms these actions a blatant violation of City policy and serious misconduct.
The memo’s conclusion says Gretsas was invited to participate as required by terms of his hiring Agreement but refused to participate.
The memo concludes with, “Several requests were made to the City of Homestead concerning personnel matters relevant to these charges. To date, no response has been received.”
On August 22, Attorney Gelin sent a second memo providing background on the situation and accusing Gretsas of engaging in substantial misconduct in the time since he was removed from office. These accusations were not made part of the written charges because they had not been investigated.
The initial charges of bullying and retaliation that were the basis for Gretsas’ removal were not recommended for inclusion in the written charges. The City Attorney said pursuing those charges was not in the best interests of the City.
Delray Beach Vice Mayor Ryan Boylston said, “The move to terminate was the report (on bullying and retaliation) as causes for termination. I understood Dr. (Julia) Davidyan was to do her investigation based on those charges. I’m really concerned with that initial report and I’m surprised to see she didn’t address any of those things but included this new list.”
“The decision was made on a three-to-two vote to terminate Gretsas for bullying and intimidation of staff,” said Commissioner Adam Frankel. “I find it very troublesome the City put out the press release about it and now we’re ignoring that.”
Gretsas’ attorney said, “This is a witch hunt for a reason. What was the alleged misconduct? The City Charter trumps all this. This is an open-ended fishing expedition. We’ll address all this on a different day.”
Delray Beach City Commission ultimately voted unanimously to accept both City Attorney memos for the written charges as the basis for the October public hearing.