PORT RICHEY — The City Council for the first time addressed a storm of controversy surrounding Port Richey's Police Department, with one member blasting the city manager for lack of oversight.
City Manager Tom O'Neill had previously called for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate the trading of three police cars without the City Council's approval and wrote in a letter to FDLE there were allegations of "improprieties in the operation of the city police impound lot."
To compound the controversy, two days after O'Neill sent the letter to FDLE, all union police officers in the department entered a vote of "no confidence" in Police Chief Dave Brown. Since then Brown has taken paid leave and has not addressed the matters with the city manager, according to O'Neill.
O'Neill has not commented on the specifics of the allegations regarding the impound lot and said he will not address Brown's employment status until a "fair and impartial" investigation is complete.
In a meeting Tuesday, City Council member Terry Rowe said a lack of oversight by O'Neill has contributed to the controversy.
"The $90,000 buck stops at the city manager's desk. And nobody, nobody has said a word about his lack of diligence in this," Rowe said. "We are becoming a laughing stock and I don't want any part of it."
Council member Steve O'Neill came to the city manager's defense saying he has done a good job. The two men are not related.
"A laughing stock? I don't see anything to laugh about," Steve O'Neill said.
Vice Mayor Bill Colombo said the complaints surrounding the department need to be looked at "thoroughly."
"I expect things to be above reproach. There are obviously some problems out there and they need to be fixed," Colombo said.