Vote gives Riviera CRA boss more time

RIVIERA BEACH Floyd Johnson bought another month in his post as the city's beleaguered community redevelopment agency executive director.

The CRA board voted 3-2 Wednesday to keep Johnson on for another month while they determine what goals to establish for him. Initially, the board had been poised to allow Johnson's $165,000 contract to expire Aug. 31, but board member Vanessa Lee switched her vote on Wednesday. Two weeks ago, Lee led the charge to oust Johnson.

Along with Lee, CRA board member Liz Wade and Chairwoman Ann Iles voted for Johnson on Wednesday night. CRA board members Jim Jackson and Norma Duncombe dissented.

Johnson has been at the CRA's helm since August 2004. At the time, he inherited a financially strapped agency that had no clear plans for redevelopment.

A former U.S. Marine Corps captain, Johnson has spent most of his professional career as a government administrator. In 1982, he became the first black appointed Broward County administrator and had stints as city manager in Richmond, Calif., and Fort Lauderdale.

In Riviera Beach, supporters hailed Johnson for getting the city's two major redevelopment projects off the ground. Under Johnson, Viking Inlet Harbor Properties began negotiations to develop 400 acres of mostly blight along the Intracoastal Waterway and Catalfumo Construction pursued developing the Ocean Mall on Singer Island.

In the next 30 days, the CRA board is going to schedule a workshop to determine what Johnson's goals should be and whether to extend the contract for another year.

 

Riviera Beach councilwoman's change
 of heart gives CRA chief breather

RIVIERA BEACH An 11th-hour meeting between Floyd Johnson, the city's redevelopment director, and his chief ouster, Vanessa Lee, proved fruitful enough for the councilwoman to switch her vote, giving the former Fort Lauderdale bureaucrat another month on the job.

Only two hours stood between Johnson and his dismissal on Wednesday when he met with Lee to discuss his evaluation. The two talked about his tenure as executive director at the community redevelopment agency and some of their conflicts, such as Johnson's failure to respond to her inquiries, Lee said.

"The one thing I did make perfectly clear is that I'm not going to accept not getting a response when I'm asking for information," Lee said.

She made something else clear to Johnson: That she wouldn't vote to fire him. In fact, she'd offer a compromise, extending his contract for another month, while he and the CRA board hold a workshop to develop goals that may bring Johnson a 12-month contract.

Hours later at the CRA meeting, Lee did publicly what she promised Johnson privately. That move returned Lee to the voting bloc of CRA Chairwoman Ann Iles and board member Liz Wade, who ran as a team in last year's election.

The CRA board voted 3-2 for the one-month extension. Rookie CRA board members Jim Jackson and Norma Duncombe dissented.

On Aug. 9 it was Lee, Jackson and Duncombe who tried to oust Johnson. Interim CRA attorney Michael Haygood said they couldn't do it because the board hadn't evaluated Johnson.

Johnson, whose $165,000 annual contract expires Aug. 31, said he agreed to the one-month extension because it allows him to further define his duties. The former Broward County administrator has been the CRA executive director since 2004.

"I hope to be able to come to an agreement with the board as to what are measurable and obtainable goals," Johnson said. "It will give me the opportunity to address some of what still appears to be misperceptions about what did and did not occur on my watch."

Over the last two weeks, Lee said, she did some soul searching, questioning whether she had enough evidence to fire Johnson. However, also during that time, Lee found herself in the middle of a dispute with Rybovich and Sons that led to the yacht builder pulling plans to build a plant in the city's redevelopment area.

Rybovich didn't affect her decision, Lee said, although the company, owned by Wayne Huizenga Jr., cited the uncertainty with the city's redevelopment plan as a factor in its decision.

"I realized I didn't do what I was supposed to do when it came to Floyd's contract," Lee said. "The buck starts with the board. We have to give our executive director clear directions on what we want."