PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. – Pembroke Park Commissioner Geoffrey Jacobs will soon be under investigation for allegedly creating a hostile work environment while he was mayor of the town.
A majority of town commissioners along with the town’s new mayor unanimously voted to launch the investigation after a plea from the human resources director.
The town plans to hire an outside law firm to conduct the investigation into Jacobs’s conduct. Current and former employees will be questioned.
“I am standing here at this public meeting and I am pleading with the commission to put a stop to this behavior,” HR director Babette Friedman said at a recent commission meeting.
Friedman, the human resources director for the town of Pembroke Park, called Jacobs’s behavior as mayor toxic and abusive.
“If any investigation needs to be done, it needs to be done against Commissioner Jacobs for creating a hostile work environment, a retaliation for bringing forward complaints, bullying and behaviors that violate the town’s code of ethics and code of conduct,” she said.
With a newly-elected mayor and commissioners on the dais, she didn’t hold back.
“Since the election, Commissioner Jacobs has attacked, attempted to intimate and retaliate against staff who would not follow his dictatorship,” Friedman said. “He has posted threatening messages on social media as the mayor and speaks negatively about staff in public settings and with others.”
Jacobs was elected as mayor in 2019, and is now a commissioner.
He’s had clashes and/or has called for the resignations of the current town clerk, town manager, former town manager, former town attorney, human resources director and former finance director.
Last October, he sent what was perceived to be a homophobic and misogynistic TikTok to then-Town Attorney Melissa Anderson, who is openly gay. She filed a police report and has left the town.
“It is a liability and unhealthy for staff to endure this hostile work environment,” Friedman said.
Jacobs has made it no secret how he feels about some city staff, pointing to infrastructure issues that have gone unattended to and master plans that have been ignored and are outdated.
“This town historically likes to hire the most incompetent people they can in the positions that are easily manipulated,” Jacobs said.
In a statement to Local 10 News, Jacobs said: “I have gone against the political status quo and came in here cleaning up the mess the previous commission and management left the town in. I basically hit the reset button on this town.”
Commissioner William Hodgkins says he’s been the target of Jacobs’ antics when simply asking a question.
“I believe it was a question I asked you,” Jacobs told Hodgkins during the commission meeting.
“You didn’t answer the question. You directly attacked me -- called me ignorant, stupid and a few other things,” Hodgkins responded. “Now that’s actionable.”
“Well, if the shoe fits,” Jacobs said.
Newly-elected Mayor Ashira Mohammed claims Jacobs spreads nasty and false rumors on social media.
“We have been told that we have been bought by our mobile home park owners because they made campaign contributions,” Mohammed said.
“All the contributions have been reported and they are all legal, and accusing us of being corrupt could cause a lawsuit,” Vice Mayor Erik Morrissette added.
There was applause in the audience after commissioners voted to investigate Jacobs’ behavior.
Jacobs, who implemented a “civility ordinance” for town employees, claims he’s filed multiple complaints against current and former town directors and the town manager won’t investigate.
He says he’s the one who has been attacked since he’s been in office.
“You never get through life without haters,” Jacobs said. “People always attacking you.”
“This happens,” he added. “This is how politics works and the truth will always come out, and I look forward to it.”
Mohammed says this investigation really has no penalty attached since Jacobs is elected.
She hopes that if it’s determined his conduct created a hostile work environment, Gov. Ron DeSantis will remove him from office.