Specific charge in HART-Armijo investigation surfaces in St. Pete Times

The allegations of improprieties against Armijo were brought to HART board member Wallace Bowers back in February, who brought them to Jordan-Holmes attention.  The board then followed procedure and hired an outside labor firm - Ford & Harrison.  On March 21, attorney Dawn Siler-Nixon with the firm shocked board members by advising them that in order to fully conduct her investigation, she was recommending that they place the subject of the investigation - David Armijo - on two weeks paid suspension, so that she could have full access to employees, who could speak freely about the CEO. The board voted reluctantly to do so, with just one exception.

Before this past Monday's meetings board members learned more about the charges, but still not the specifics, which they said at the time frustrated them.  Armijo also complained that he had not had access to the list of grievances against him, but dismissed some of those that he was aware of.

But when CL asked Hillsborough County Commissioner Mark Sharpe on how serious he believed the charges were, he replied sharply, "Serious enough for an individual to be put on paid leave for a total now of four weeks.  I want an organization that's run strong and where every employee feels comfortable to walk in and present information no matter it goes contrary to what leadership is suggesting. And I want to make sure that's the environment we have from this step forward."

The HART board is scheduled to meet again April 18.

Props to the St. Pete Times Justin George for getting some specific information into today's paper about one of the allegations made against HART CEO David Armijo, who was originally put on a two-week paid suspension by the transit agency's board last month after they received allegations of improprieties committed by Armijo.

On Monday, the HART boarded to continue that paid suspension for an additional two weeks, in order to allow individual board members to meet with Armijo to discuss in depth the charges against him, which have been reported to include allegations of favoritism in hiring and retaliating against employees who expressed concerns about the workplace with him.

George writes that in fact one allegation regards Armijo renting a Harbor Island condo for one year from a lawyer who was under contract with HART - which might qualify as a violation of HART's ethics policy regarding conflict of interest if he did not disclose that, though Armijo tells the paper that he spoke with the transit agency's in house attorney, Clark Jordan-Holmes about it at that time.

From the story:

Armijo said he took proper steps to make sure the rental wasn't a conflict of interest and asked HART's then-attorney, Clark Jordan-Holmes, about the arrangement before he signed a lease. Jordan Holmes saw no problem, Armijo said.

Jordan-Holmes didn't return several messages from the St. Petersburg Times over two days.

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