Although he had been put on the equivalent of a month's paid suspension for accusations by employees of conflicts of interest, favoritism of hiring and taking improper vacation time, the St. Pete Times reports this morning that a huge factor in the HART board of directors voting 7-4 Monday night to terminate CEO David Armijo was unauthorized contract changes he requested that made it more difficult to fire him.
Without addressing that issue, Armijo maintained Tuesday speaking with CL that the investigation against him had been unfair from the start, perhaps laying a predicate if he decides to pursue litigation in the wake of his ouster. He says that the transit agency's policy on whistle-blowers is "inconsistent" with state statute, an issue that was brought up amongst board members during their April 4 meeting.
"It raises serious concerns as to how you can go about a process where you can remove an individual without cause, do an investigation, not provide any facts, not to let anybody to be able to confront the people making allegations, no information has been provided to substantiate the allegations, and based on what I could find out about the allegations, from either board members or from some of the questions asked of me about the investigation, I was able to essentially prove that all those allegations made by Ford-Harrison were in fact false, and yet they still took action."
(Update: Armijo does respond to the Times story on his Facebook page on Wednesday, writing,"For the record, I did not make the language changes. That work was done by the Board's General Counsel. He was solely responsible for the content and distribution of the information to the Board. He reports to the Board, not the CEO." But that General Counsel, Clark Jordan-Homes, tells the St. Pete Times that the changes were made at Armijo's request.)
Armijo says he believes that Ford-Harrison, the labor law-firm that investigated the employee complaints against him, took their investigation astray from the actual allegations made against him. As he said to reporters following the April 4 HART Board meeting, Armijo said that Florida law says that the whistle-blower must make their claim in writing and under oath, and has to do so 60 days after the alleged transaction occurred. But he says that with the exception of the issues with his travel, "none of the allegations were timely."He added that this fact was "really critical" because if he opts to sue, this will be an issue he will bring up. "In the end, the board made decisions on rumors and innuendo," he maintained.
One of the more devastating stories to surface in the media about Armijo was reported in Saturday's Times, where David Persaud, who was HART's CFO when Armijo was hired in 2007, said that once he questioned Armijo about some of his decisions, he saw his pay cut by $24,000, and was then offered a settlement by Armijo to keep quiet when he left to work for the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Agency. In that same story, former executive Steven Roberts also blasted Armijo.