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Lake City City Attorney Resigns This Afternoon – City Council This Evening – Mums the Word

Dyal Severance Issue tipped over the apple cart

Lake City City Attorney Todd Kennon

LAKE CITY, FL – At approximately 1 pm this afternoon, City Attorney Todd Kennon submitted his resignation as City Attorney giving his sixty day required City notice. This evening at the City Council – Mums the Word.


The issue of Mr. Dyal’s severance payout was reported on December 20, 2023. Nothing has changed since then.

See: Ex-Lake City City Manager Paul Dyal's $ 1/4 Million Resignation Payout Questioned. After 9 Months on the Job, the City Council Is Asking Questions.

The questions asked on December 4 and emailed earlier to City Attorney Todd Kennon have not been answered.

1. Does your law firm(s) [RKK and Folds & Walker] dispute that Mr. Dyal resigned of his own free will?

2. What part of Mr. Dyal's contract authorized the Mayor to execute Appendix I without City Council approval? (Note: the appendix, as approved on 2023-01-03, was filled with blank spaces, which were completed and then executed on 2023-10-27).

3. If your firm has obligated the City to pay Mr. Dyal 16 weeks of pay and some benefits, Appendix I states this payment is not to sue the City. Is this wrong?

4. Does your E&O [errors & omissions insurance] cover the bogus payment of severance pay to Mr. Dyal, considering the City Council never approved the executed version of Appendix I?

Mayor Witt is an attorney and accountant. He was first elected in a special election in 2005 and has been signing City contracts on behalf of the City Council for almost 20 years. In the resolutions approving those contracts have generally been the phrase:

"The Mayor is authorized and directed to execute and deliver the contract in the name of, and on behalf of, the City with such changes, amendments, modifications, omissions, and additions made by the City Manager and City Attorney. Execution by the Mayor and ________ shall be deemed to be conclusive evidence of approval of such changes, amendments, modifications, omissions, and additions.”

A similar phrase was in the Jones Edmonds contract prepared for the City Council during this evening’s (January 2, 2024) meeting. The contract was approved by City Attorney Todd Kennon.

This language or anything even close was missing from Paul Dyal's city manager contract, written by Todd Kennon.

The City Council has never balked at giving the City Manager, City Attorney, and Mayor the ability to change City contracts without Council final approval.

December 27, 2023:
Prelude to City Attorney Kennon's Decision to Resign

While the City Council refused to investigate the last-minute raises given to some of the parting City Manager Paul Dyal's favorites, the City Council did not let Mayor Witt or City Attorney Kennon off the "Dyal severance" hook.

For voting not to investigate Mr. Dyal's last-minute raises, City Councilwoman Young said, "Well, we didn't keep an eye on the ball. This is a wake-up call. Now we know we need to keep our eye on the ball."

City Councilman Todd Sampson (now former Councilman-having resigned) said, "Mr. Dyal received severance pay; we didn't know it beforehand. I don't know how you pay someone severance pay when they quit a job…. He resigned under item 9 [in his contract], which was clearly a resignation."

Councilman Sampson continued, "I think you have two culpable partners: one is our attorney; and the second is you, Mr. Mayor, because you signed the document and it did not come to this Council to be approved. That has never been the case with severance. I don't know how you or the attorney was authorized to sign the document paying severance to someone that quit, and it never came before this Council..."

“Something's going on here… (Mr. Sampson mentions the special relationship between Mr. Dyal and the Mayor). I don't know. Who's going to pay the City back? Either the E&O insurance from the attorney's office needs to pay us that money back, or maybe you do, Mr. Mayor, because you may be liable for that.”

"There is no way this Council approved the severance package."

City Councilman Ricky Jernigan weighed in, “The Attorney and the Mayor signed off on that, the severance packet. If they did… hey, he's got a signed to document that that's what he was supposed to get.”

Did the attorney let us down? I would say yes, he did. However, he signed it; the Mayor signed it. There is no way -- we may be in for another lawsuit. We made a mistake, and how do you fix that Mr. Mayor?

Mr. Sampson said, “We didn't make a mistake -- the Mayor and the attorney made a mistake and signed a document that we didn't approve… we go after the people who did that. That's why attorneys carry an E&O insurance policy…”

Mr. Sampson addressed the Mayor, "I don't know why you sign a document and you are putting the City on the hook to pay funds when you know this board never approved that document.

Mayor Witt responds, "It was the attorney’s opinion that that was the thing to do."

Mr. Sampson followed up, “That’s a smart thing to say. That tells me the attorney told you to sign that, and you signed it on his word. Again, it goes back to E&O insurance. Walker Folds, Robinson Kennon and Kendron, they're liable and we need to go after that… If we say that's just "water under the bridge," then the bad behavior continues."

Councilman Jernigan addressed Mr. Kennon, "What do you have to say about this, Mr. Kennon?"

City attorney Kennon responded, "Given the nature of the motion, I'll say nothing at this point. If the claim is made, then we'll defend it."

Mr. Jernigan said, "There's been no motion made."

Mr. Kennon responded, "There's been a threat of an E&O claim. We'll defend it when it comes back (unintelligible)."

Mr. Jernigan: "I just want to hear what you got to say… did you know that was illegal?"

Mr. Kennon:  "Mr. Jernigan, I have no comment based on the threat of an E&O claim."

Councilwoman Young quipped, "I would say, Mr. Dyal, he['s] in good shape."

Mr. Sampson asked Mayor Witt for direction.

Mayor Witt said, "Y’alls call."

Councilman Hill said, "You have a signed document."

Mr. Sampson said, "Are we gonna go after people who make their own rules and abscond with the public's funds, or are we just gonna let it happen?... The City screwed up. This is really screwed up."

Mr. Sampson questioned if the Mayor’s personal relationship with Mr. Dyal colored his judgment.

Community activist Sylvester Warren interrupted the meeting from the audience, "Point of order, Mr. Mayor. Point of order. Personal attack on the Mayor."

Mayor Witt, for a change, ignored Mr. Warren's outburst. However, he did not ask Mr. Warren not to shout out.

Mr. Sampson made a motion to refer the matter to the City's auditor. Councilman Hill seconded the motion.

Community Activist Sylvester Warren came to the microphone for public comment. He told the Mayor, “You did nothin’ wrong, nor did the attorney do anything wrong.”

Mr. Warren mentioned that if the matter is investigated further, he (Mr. Warren) will do his own investigation and discuss it “with some people” implying that "some people" were law enforcement.

Councilman Sampson moved that the City Auditor investigate the issue of Mr. Dyal's severance payment.

The motion passed 3-2, with Mr. Jernigan and Mayor Witt voting against an investigation.

City Attorney Kennon Resigns

At 12:58 pm, January 2, 2024, City Attorney Todd Kennon, via email, advised the City that he was resigning by providing 60 days' notice, adding that it was okay if the Council shortened the 60-day time.

Additionally, Mr. Kennan wrote, "Given past and recent events of the City Council, I believe the relationship between my firm and the City Council cannot continue. I have enjoyed working with the City staff and administration during my tenure as the City Attorney and wish the City the best going forward."

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