A routine Palm Coast City Council meeting veered into conflict April 6 as Councilman Victor Barbosa asked his fellow council members to fire City Manager Matt Morton, alleging in comments near the end of the meeting that Morton’s behavior in a dispute about code enforcement amounted to corruption.
Barbosa’s motion died for lack of a second.
Barbosa, who has his own recent history with the city’s Code Enforcement — he’s been warned for parking his company truck outside his home in violation of the city’s ban on commercial vehicles in residential areas, and has pressed the city to eliminate that rule — has in recent weeks driven the city’s residential areas, noting code violations and reporting them to the city manager.
Morton, Barbosa said, had emailed city Code Enforcement Manager Barbara Grossman and told her to list Barbosa as the complainant on those code cases, writing, “I want to be able to keep track.”
But Barbosa wasn’t just listed as a complainant in the city’s internal system, as Morton’s letter seemed to be suggesting: Barbosa was also listed by name on the actual notices of violation that were sent to people’s homes — and not only for the specific violations he’d noted, but for other ones that staff found on the same streets.
Barbosa found that improper, and suggested at the council meeting and in a later Facebook Live video that Morton was responsible and was trying to sabotage Barbosa’s political prospects.
“I’m very angry — very angry, hurt and disappointed,” Barbosa said. “... This is several examples of the use of my name associated with properties I did not complain about. This is a direct result from Matt Morton to Barbara Grossman to slander my name and my position.”
He called Morton’s actions “gross misconduct and corruption” and a “partisan political attack.”
He didn’t provide evidence that Morton himself had instructed that Barbosa’s name be appended to the unrelated cases or the notices of violation themselves.
A city staff member said that when someone submits a complaint stating that multiple properties on a street have the same issue, Code Enforcement attributes the properties found with that problem to the original complainant.
Barbosa said he had records showing other code violation notices that did not reveal a complainant’s name.
That showed, he said, that listing a complainant’s name on the actual violation notices was not standard.
City staff weren’t able to immediately clarify why Barbosa would have been listed by name on the actual violation notices.
He asked his fellow council members to terminate Morton.
“If you don’t vote against, which I have clearly shown proof, then you’re in favor of corruption and mismanagement in our city,” he said.
No one seconded his motion.
Councilman Ed Danko said he wanted more time to review the documents Barbosa had provided, and proposed tabling Barbosa’s motion — but, because no one seconded it, was not able to do so.