Feeling frustration from what he’s called a “lack of accountability” in the management of the City of St Augustine, one-term commissioner Todd Neville is quoted in this morning’s St Augustine Record saying, “the city needs a different kind of leadership to reach its goals” and that he will not seek re-election.
Historic City News editor Michael Gold, who was attacked in absentia by Neville in 2015, said that the commissioners are the “leadership” of the City, so any complaints on that count should be facing inward; “after all, he is the Vice Mayor.” Gold, an undergraduate of public administration, agrees that there is a lack of accountability in local city government, “but that’s a criticism of management, not leadership.”
With only nine months under his belt in any elected public office, then 41-year-old freshman city commissioner Todd D. Neville, a local Certified Public Accountant, challenged City Attorney, Isabelle Lopez, to take on Historic City News, a free press, and citizen journalist Michael Gold, for accurately exposing campaign contributions taken by Neville from a local developer and his attorney.
Neville wanted to use City resources to bring a civil claim of defamation against Historic City News and Gold, until it was explained to him that a municipal government can’t be “defamed” and if he wanted to sue, he was on his own. At the next commission meeting, he announced that he had dropped the idea.
- To many in the city, after Neville was elected, defeating long time commercial contractor John Valdes for the open seat created when architect Don Crichlow retired, it seemed as though they had gotten two commissioners for the price of one. Commissioner Neville’s wife of only four years, Heather Sutherland Neville, became the “go to” person for anything to do with mobility, transportation, traffic, running, bicycling, and any other project to which she took a fancy. Both Nevilles were viewed as “too bossy”, so, when the two were involved together, many volunteers, and candidly some city staff, reported that it could get overwhelming — choosing not to work with them.
- With interest we learned in media accounts that Neville cited the San Marco Avenue repaving project, owned and directed by the Florida Department of Transportation, not the City of St Augustine, as an example of a failure to communicate to the public the benefits of the project early and properly. According to published reports, Neville said, “For three months I pleaded with [Regan]: Where’s our strategy? … We’re failing at our communication.” As a consequence of that mismanagement, the idea for shuttle lanes on San Marco Avenue, supported by the Nevilles, failed to be accepted by FDOT.
In any event, Neville reportedly discounted his personal preference to resign now from the remaining eight months of his term. He says his parents talked him out of it. The former elected holder of Seat 4 was Bill Leary; who served only two-years of his four-year term. He complained about some of the management problems identified by Neville. He quit and moved to California before the 450th Commemoration was held.
Not only will Neville not seek re-election, he discounted any rumors that he would run for any office, on any level, before the 2020 Presidential Election Year. Rumors grew louder last year when he listed, for $725,000, the Lincolnville home that he purchased from his father in August 2016.
He says that he wouldn’t run for the legislature because it doesn’t pay enough, and he would have to sacrifice too much time from his accounting practice. He expressed an interest in considering a federal level position, but no commitments have been reported.