Approximately 400 concerned Riviera Beach residents gathered at JAY Ministries on Avenue S on Sept. 25 to discuss and rally solutions for the unjustified firing of former City Manager Jonathan Evans. Evans was fired on Sept. 20 with cause after a motion for his dismissal was filed by council member Terence Davis. The community event at JAY Ministries was not sponsored by the City of Riviera Beach, but several city officials including Mayor Thomas Masters and Council Chair Kashamba Miller-Anderson were present.
At the opening of the meeting, residents were shown video clips of the Sept. 20 budget meeting during which Evans was fired. This particular meeting was not streamed live on the city’s local channel like all other council meetings have been in the past. In the video clips, Davis files a motion to have Evans removed from his position on allegations of misfeasance. When council member Tonya Davis Johnson asks the city’s attorney, who was present at the meeting, regarding the specifics of the alleged misfeasance of which Evans was said to be guilty, City Attorney Andrew DeGraffenreidt III said he found no evidence of misfeasance and was simply providing the definition of the term to the council.
After viewing clips of the meeting, longtime Riviera Beach resident Mary Brabham spoke on the work that Mr. Evans had completed during his short tenure as city manager before reading his credentials and résumé to the audience. She said that jealousy was to blame for Mr. Evans ultimately being fired. “Jealousy will make a man destroy others.” Brabham said.
Brother Ahmad Israel said, “This meeting is a call to action.” He explained that the purpose of the meeting was to collect signatures to formally request that council members, who voted to fire Evans, rescind their votes. Brother Ahmad also said, “There is research being done on a recall. We just want to make sure that when we send our residents out that they are moving with the proper information to make the recall successful.”
Residents were surprised and erupted in applause when Evans, walked in during the meeting and addressed the audience who rallied in support of his position as city manager. “Regardless of what happens, my intentions when I came to Riviera Beach still remain the same and that is to give more than you receive.” Evans said. Evans also said that he has wanted to be a city manager since the age of 19 and was hoping that Riviera Beach would be the city from which he retired.
Through tears Evans said, “I can’t sleep. I can’t process that if you do everything that you’re asked to do and you do it the right way, that you would find yourself in this kind of predicament.”
Before leaving the meeting, residents signed up to become members of committees to help successfully carry out the recall plan of action. “We want [city council members] to know that the residents do not support their actions.” Brother Ahmad said.
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