Evans breaks his si­lence

South Florida Times - - FRONT PAGE - By DAPHNE TAY­LOR

Jonathan Evans, for­mer Riviera Beach city man­ager, said Satur­day night that he holds no ill-will to­ward the coun­cil mem­bers who sud­denly voted to fire him last fall, caus­ing an up­roar in the city.

Evans, who had been in the po­si­tion only six months when the coun­cil made its sud­den move, gave an in­spi­ra­tional speech on Feb. 17 dur­ing a ban­quet for “Thrive for a Change, a re-en­try pro­gram in West Palm Beach. Ty­ron Hanna, founder and CEO of the or­ga­ni­za­tion, said more peo­ple showed up than ex­pected. Cheers in­ter­rupted as Evans spoke about his fate, his fu­ture and his staunch faith. Evans based his speech on the bib­li­cal prin­ci­ples of faith, hope and love, and as a back­drop used scrip­tures and in­spi­ra­tional words from noted in­di­vid­u­als.

"When they voted to fire me, I thanked the coun­cil for al­low­ing me to serve. Could I have said other things? Yes, but I'm not that per­son. God did what he did to move me into my pur­pose and des­tiny," he said.

Evans be­gan as Riviera Beach's city man­ager in March 2017 and was fired on Sept. 20, in a 3-2 vote by the City Coun­cil. That vote led to city­wide chaos and a res­i­dent-in­spired re­call ef­fort against the three City Coun­cil mem­bers who fired him.

Evans has ac­cepted the same po­si­tion in Madeira Beach, Florida. He starts Feb. 26.

Hanna said the cir­cum­stances are un­for­tu­nate, but that Evans will suc­ceed. "Un­for­tu­nately, Mr. Evans is leav­ing Palm Beach County and it is un­for­tu­nate: he is a smart, strong, hard­work­ing young man," Hanna said, "and I never wa­vered one bit in my sup­port of him be­cause of that. He is a great role model for our ex-felons and a great leader for our com­mu­nity. That's why peo­ple stood up for him like they did–and still are."

The South Florida Times reached out to the three coun­cil mem­bers who voted to dis­miss Evans. Lynne Hub­bard, Dis­trict 1, said she was dis­ap­pointed in Evans af­ter he came in and sup­ported pri­va­ti­za­tion of var­i­ous de­part­ments. "I thought surely that he would come here and take Riviera Beach where it needed to go, but when I saw what he wanted to do re­gard­ing com­mu­nity de­vel­op­ment, parks and recrea­tion ... he started mak­ing rum­blings about pri­va­ti­za­tion and that the city would be bank­rupt in a few years. When I saw what he was do­ing, I was dis­ap­pointed. My goal is to pre­serve the re­sources we have and to par­lay them into a qual­ity of life for the res­i­dents of the city, "said Hub­bard.

Dawn S. Pardo, Dis­trict 4, said she never voted to hire Evans. "When Mr. Evans was hired in Fe­bru­ary of 2017, I did not vote to hire him. When he was hired, I worked to help him suc­ceed. I be­gan los­ing con­fi­dence in him dur­ing the bud­get process. He pro­posed: Tax­ing Singer Is­land, as a neigh­bor­hood Im­prove­ment Dis­trict, to pay for beach re-nour­ish­ment, safety preven­tion, City beach main­te­nance and neigh­bor­hood Im­prove­ments; A fire as­sess­ment tax on ALL Riviera Beach home­own­ers; Hir­ing 24 new em­ploy­ees while stat­ing the city would soon be run­ning at a deficit. He also pro­posed to me sell­ing the Singer Is­land fire sta­tion land and mov­ing our equip­ment and staff to Palm Beach Shores. Lastly, he ig­nored a re­port from the in­spec­tor gen­eral. I will not al­low any man­ager to sin­gle out a cer­tain group of res­i­dents and in­sist they pay more than their fair share.

For all of the rea­son above, and oth­ers, I sup­ported the ter­mi­na­tion of Jonathan Evans," Pardo stated in an email re­sponse.

The South Florida Times also reached out to coun­cil mem­ber, Ter­ence "T.D." Davis, who made the mo­tion to fire Evans. Davis was headed into a meet­ing and said he would call back in 30 min­utes, but af­ter days, The South Florida Times never heard back from him.

Evans has moved on. "I had it all planned out, but it wasn't God's plan. God brought me to a point where I had to let Him work through me. I will fol­low and will let Him [God] take the wheel," said Evans in ret­ro­spect.

Hanna, mean­while said Evans was a dy­namic guest for his re-en­try pro­gram though Evans is no ex-felon. Hanna founded Thrive For A Change in 2014 to help for­mer in­mates be­come self-suf­fi­cient as they re­turn to their com­mu­ni­ties to re-start their lives. It pro­vides re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion sup­port in all its forms: hous­ing, jobs, so­cial-skills train­ing and fam­ily re-con­nec­tion. It is also host­ing a 'Stop the Vi­o­lence' bas­ket­ball game on Feb. 24 in Belle Glade. Hanna has also been known to al­low some of his clients to stay in his per­sonal home when they had no where else to go. He is also run­ning for Palm Beach County Com­mis­sion, Dis­trict 6. To sup­port Thrive for a Change, call: 561-444-0355.

PHOTO BY ALAN LUBY FOR SOUTH FLORIDA TIMES

FIRED: Jonathan Evans, who was sud­denly ousted as City Man­ager in Riviera Beach, held no grudges in his key­note speech at the ban­quet for Thrive for a Change.

PHOTO BY ALAN LUBY FOR SOUTH FLORIDA TIMES

For­mer Riviera Beach City Man­ager Jonathan Evans re­ceived a plaque from Thrive for a Change founder Ty­ron Hanna af­ter Evans rous­ing speech.

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