Before withdrawing from candidacy several weeks ago, Bonner told the Herald that he sees another chance to be successful as Henry County’s manager.
I saw an opportunity to be there and it appealed to me personally and professionally,” said Bonner, who lives in Flagger Beach, Fla. “I look at the chemistry that you can work with them (commissioners) and then I start looking at the work that’s before me. I look at the work that’s before me, infrastructure, major projects and the needs for the county and citizens.”
Bonner said he does consulting work for developers and nonprofits. According to his resume, in his previous position as city manager for North Miami Beach, he managed 422 employees and oversaw a budget of $111 million. During his year-and-a-half tenure as city manager, he had to lay off some employees to meet the city’s tight budget. His proposal included cutting over 20 positions from the police department and several positions in other departments.
His decision was not received well.
Bonner made headlines when two North Miami Beach police employees were fired for plotting a curse to get rid of Bonner as the city manager for his plan to cut positions.
An article published on the Miami New Times website in November 2011, stated the two employees were caught in an office planning to cast a Santeria curse on Bonner shortly before mass layoffs were planned. They were plotting to spread birdseed around Bonner’s office, in accordance with a Santeria ritual aimed at making an enemy “leave you alone,” according to a police report. One of the employees had been raised in a family that practices Santeria, stated the article.
Bonner told the Herald that he was upset about the attention it received because Santeria is a religion that is practiced by many residents in the city.
Santeria has a strong following in North Miami Beach. It’s a religious faction,” said Bonner. “They were just blowing off some steam. I could’ve lived with them not liking me, but not lying under oath.”
The employees allegedly gave false statements to investigators during the incident.
He said one of the hardest parts of city or county manager positions is having to lay off employees, but added that preventing it from happening takes forward planning and accountability. He said predecessors failed to plan ahead.
We need to make sure the things we invest in are sustainable,” Bonner said. “When getting grants other funding for things, we need to allow for replacement costs. I like to bring out sustainability and make sure you can account for them in the future and can afford them.”
Having visited Henry County several times and researched projects and spending, he said the county’s police department is one of many of its unique features.
Bonner also addressed a previous investigation into sexual harassment, in which he was involved.
According to minutes taken during a 2006 city workshop for the City of Safe Harbor, Fla., where its city manager candidates were being discussed, Bonner was investigated for sexual harassment.
Lyndon Bonner is described as enigmatic,” read the minutes. “His employment file with the City of Dunnellon included a reprimand for not doing some things, but at the same time he received a great evaluation with high praise. At the Town of Bunnell he was accused of sexual harassment. EEOC investigated and found him innocent of the charges. He can be flippant. He is definitely outgoing. He resigned from Bunnell over contract and salary negotiations, but the officials wrote supportive reference letters.”
#Bonner said he was cooperative in the investigation, which he said included statements about the victim “being uncomfortable” around him. But he joked that he learned something from the investigation.
I said something like ‘Hey, good lookin’, have a Merry Christmas,’” recalled Bonner. “That was a bad choice of words on Christmas Eve, I guess.”
With over 20 years of government administration experience, Bonner also served as county administrator for Okeechobee County, Fla., as well as interim assistant county administrator and special projects manager for Sumter County, Fla. Earlier in his career, he was city manager for several years in Bunnell, Fla., and worked as director of public services in Dunnellon, Fla., according to his resume.
Deputy County Manager Cheri-Hobson Matthews was one of the two final candidates, and had been serving as interim county manager.
Chairman Tommy Smith said though Bonner had verbally withdrawn his candidacy weeks ago, he was still a viable candidate.
At press time, Bonner said he had not received the contract, but did plan to accept the offer and start the position next week if the terms are agreeable. Bonner was also a county manager candidate last year. The contract was not available as of press time Tuesday.
Commissioner Bruce Holmes was the lone vote against Bonner’s appointment.