PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. – Bad blood and fighting at the Pembroke Park Town Commission continued this week after another heated meeting at the city’s Agenda Workshop on Wednesday.
Pembroke Park Commissioner William Hodgkins said during the commission meeting that he wants former mayor, now-Commissioner Geoffrey Jacobs censured for his alleged conduct and publicly reprimanded.
“It kinda disheartens me to even bring this forward,” Hodgkins said on Wednesday.
The troublesome behavior by Commissioner Jacobs in his official capacity has occurred in public meetings town events and social media.
This commission has already voted to investigate Jacobs for creating a hostile work environment.
“Commissioner Jacobs in his official capacity continues to provide members of the public and the media with misinformation of the town’s agenda resulting in credibility issues for the town,” said Hodgkins.
Jacobs has had previous clashes with fellow commissioners and called for the resignations of several current and former directors, including the city’s HR director, town manager, and town clerk.
Last October, he sent a TikTok video to then-Town Attorney Melissa Anderson, who is openly gay. She perceived the content of the video as homophobic and misogynistic, and she decided to file a police report.
Jacobs has since called the incident a mistake. During a discussion this week, the commission discussed banning the use of profanity and intimidation tactics against each other, but Jacobs disagreed.
“Under the First Amendment, you can speak out against them and that is what I am doing. I’m exercising my right and working for the best for the residents of Pembroke Park, Jacobs said.
“Our job is not to sit on this dais and cuss each other out (and) to intimidate each other. You are not paid to do that as an elected official,” said Pembroke Park Mayor Ashira Mohammed.
Jacobs has said he’s the victim, denying any allegations.
“You have seen me relentlessly been attacked by the clerk, by the mayor, and by HR, and every single meeting there has been an incident,” he said. “You have come up with this complaint against me that will happen. It will be investigated. It is going to happen.”
Hodgkins: “I think calling me names on social media is not a progressive way to go things.”
Mohammed: “Nor does it affect the business of getting this city moving this city forward in the direction of what we are paid to do.”
Jacobs: “I think it’s funny that you all are worried about what I do on my social media accounts.”
Hodgkins: “When you mention this commission and members of it, it does count.”
Hodgkins says Jacobs has previously called him ‘stupid and ignorant’ on social media.
This censure issue will be on the agenda at the June 14 town commission meeting.
There is no penalty attached to it — it is a public reprimand.
Jacobs will have a chance to respond to the allegations.
The town has hired an outside firm to investigate the hostile work environment allegations.
Read Jacobs’ statement:
The First Amendment of the United States Constitution protects the right to free speech, including the right to criticize and speak out against the government. This protection is a cornerstone of American democracy and is essential to ensuring that citizens can engage in open and honest discussions about important issues without fear of retaliation or censorship.
The American people are frequently unsure of the boundaries of their rights and because of it, their rights are often abused and removed by the corrupt that have gained power in our government. What you see happening here is that Commissioner Hodgkins, Mayor Ashira, Mohammed, among other commissioners and staff are trying to silence me (also elected to represent the people of Pembroke Park).
Mayor Mohammed is the driving force behind these actions, as the commission is attempting to alter regulations to penalize me for speaking out. However, I refuse to be silenced and it’s important to question why they are taking such measures. Fortunately, I know my rights and refuse to allow them to be compromised, especially in the face of such obvious scheming and repeated sunshine violations.
The right to free speech is a fundamental aspect of American society and plays a critical role in promoting open dialogue, protecting individual liberties, and holding those in power accountable. This is exactly what I do: I openly discuss the interests of residents and insist on accountability for all commissioners. I made a commitment to the people of my town and I will not stand aside while their best interests are ignored, their tax dollars wasted, and their rights trampled.
Read Pizzi’s letter