BY ARMANDO GRUNDY-GOMES / JUNE 18, 2019
Grundy-Gomes submitted this piece to the Gainesville Sun, which declined to print it. He then offered it to us.
The Gainesville City Commission’s decision to terminate the City Auditor, Carlos Holt, without cause at the June 6th meeting places our city in a precarious position of liability and potentially unnecessary litigation. The genesis of this problem stems from Holt’s investigation/audit of the Reichert House (and its many related entities) that began in late November 2018. The Reichert House is a city program that is overseen and run by the Gainesville Police Chief. Ironically, around the same time, the problems for Mr. Holt not only began but were magnified in a very public way. Anonymous letters containing sensitive information were sent to Gainesville resident Nathan Skop, Gainesville Sun reporter Andrew Caplan, and many others.
The release of the letters appeared to be a first strike that were meant to dissuade and destroy Holt’s credibility and his ability to do his job. It’s also ironic that the Gainesville Police Chief and some administrators (current and former) within the City of Gainesville began a second strike to malign Carlos Holt, by releasing the fact that the Gainesville Police Department (GPD) had come to his home around 14 times in the last four years. This was clearly done to give the appearance that Holt was only performing an audit of the Reichert House and the Police Chief because he (Holt) had an axe to grind or wanted to get back at GPD. The facts as reported by several media outlets and the partial audit paint a very different picture altogether. Holt’s partial audit exposed the malfeasance and misfeasance within the Reichert House and the immediate need for its correction and reform. This led to the culmination or coup de gras (final death blow), which was the termination without cause of Carlos Holt on June 6, 2019. Some leaders may think that is the end of this saga, when really it is just the beginning, because we are just getting warmed up.
With Holt’s termination, it is now more clear than ever that the City of Gainesville must follow through on having an independent audit of the Reichert House and its many related entities. Having an independent audit is the most transparent and ethical way to restore public trust and confidence in local government. The termination solidifies something even more potentially sinister at play, with the release of sensitive information and the weaponizing of that information as well! We have a major security breach that has occurred within the city. Not only is the security breach an ethical concern; the breach and weaponizing of that information is a federal crime that falls under the Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984. More importantly, it falls under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) of 1984. The CFAA primarily governs United States Cyber Security and was enacted to address and prohibit the access, use, or excess of authorization of computer and cyber information (computer related crimes). The law has subsequently been amended and modernized as of January 2015 under former President Obama. Many of the events surrounding Carlos Holt violate numerous federal law, such as, but not limited to, HIPAA, HITECH Act, CFAA, and potentially mail fraud because of the use of the Postal Service to commit a crime.
What is most concerning is the appearance of a cover-up in our great city. Our elected officials are giving the appearance of participating in the cover-up and/or being unwilling to investigate the egregious security breach in our local government. It is clear to me and many others that now we cannot count on or ask our local elected officials to be independent and address these things. Because of that, I, along with many other residents, are resolved to ask the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, United States Department of Justice, and Federal Bureau of Investigation to investigate the security breach and potential corruption within our city. The former city auditor has spoken openly about the breach coming from the highest levels within GPD, the very agency that is designed to protect and defend the citizens of this great city. Our Police Chief must know and understand that he is not above the law. It is time to hold any and all parties responsible and associated with the security breach accountable for their actions.