Gainesville City Commission votes to fire city auditor without cause

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - UPDATE 6/7/19
Gainesville's city auditor was fired Thursday night without cause by the commission.

Here's why one former Gainesville politician says it's a bad look for the city and what the justification for the firing really was.

It all comes down to a letter to the city commission sent on May 14th from Carlos Holt's attorney. The letter outlines a culture of discrimination and retaliation against Holt in regards to sensitive information leaks about his family and backlash, he says, from his Reichert House audit which found thousands of dollars of taxpayer money missing. That letter is attached to this article.

After city commissioners chose to fire Holt Thursday night without cause, giving him 20 weeks severance pay, they justified their decision with the previously mentioned letter.

City Commissioner for District 4 Adrian Hayes-Santos explained, "a few weeks ago the city auditor Mr. Holt sent the city commission a letter stating the best thing he thought for himself and the city is for him to leave the city, to leave is employment here. The city commission yesterday moved forward on that action and went forward with the terms of the contract between us to let him go."

However former Gainesville Mayor Mark Goldstein says it's a bad look for the city who he believes "fired the messenger" who was doing his job to reveal money mismanagement within city programs.
"Firing the messenger is the worst thing you can do. First of all, you lose public trust which is really bad because the public puts you there to guide them and guard them. The second thing is you continue the problem and you send a message to all city workers it's okay, it's cool do whatever you do we'll get rid of the people who report it."

For now, Hayes-Santos says Holt's position will be filled by an interim city auditor.

"The second in command there is our new interim city auditor. For the time being and I think we'll have those discussions on where we want to go with a new city auditor over the coming weeks and months."

It's expected Holt will pursue legal action against the city for being fired. The letter we've mentioned numerous times is available to be looked at attached to this story.

For the full meeting, please follow the link to the right of this article. Skip to the 5:47:16 mark to reach the beginning of the discussion about Carlos Holt.

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The Gainesville city auditor is out of a job.

The City Commission voted to fire Carlos Holt Thursday night after he filed a controversial audit of the Gainesville Police Department's Reichert House.

That's a program operated by GPD Chief Tony Jones to help underprivileged young men turn their lives around.

But Holt's audit found numerous discrepancies in the program's finances and was not well-received when he presented it to city commissioners in April.

Forty-one thousand dollars is still missing and an outside auditor is looking into that.

Acting City Manager Deborah Bowie suggested the investigation was retaliation for the police being called to Holt's home several times since he was hired in 2015.

Holt denies this was his motivation.

In May, commissioners voted to let him go but did not agree on a severance package.

Thursday night, however, they voted five-to-two to fire him without cause. In this case, he will get 20 weeks' severance pay.

Commissioners Gigi Simmons and Gail Johnson voted against the firing.

Holt has already hired an attorney and could file suit against the city.