HAINES CITY – Haines City Clerk Linda Bourgeois submitted a letter of voluntary resignation Sept. 2.
Mayor Morris West read the letter during a city commission meeting the following night. Bourgeois did not specifically say why she chose to suddenly resign during the meeting.
Toward the end of the Sept. 3 city commission meeting and during her final comments, Haines City Commissioner Anne Huffman said she was “deeply offended” by the way Bourgeois treated her over a recent car insurance misunderstanding.
The accusation fleshed out some discussion about the misunderstanding.
According to Huffman, her grandson got into a car accident recently while attending Florida A&M University in Tallahassee. Because he is listed on Huffman's car insurance policy, Huffman rented a car for her grandson to use while his wrecked Toyota was being repaired.
Bourgeois said, around this time, she received what she called a suspicious email from an insurance company about the city owing money for a car rented by Huffman. The city clerk called Commissioner Huffman to ask about this. Huffman said it must have been a mistake and that when she got back to Haines City, she would straighten the error up.
Huffman alleged, that after this call, the city clerk told other city staff that Huffman was unethically renting a car for personal use using a city account. Bourgeois denied this allegation, saying she only spoke to a few city staff about the problem.
“I need to get my name cleared out of this and I want the rumors to stop,” Huffman said.
Bourgeois said she meant no harm.
“I thought it was a scam,” Bourgois said.
Huffman further alleged that this is not the first problem she has had with the city clerk.
“This is not the first time the rumor mill has started out of the city clerk office,” Huffman said.
Canvassing Board issues
During a phone call with the Sun after the meeting, Huffman was asked what she meant by rumor mill. Huffman said during the last election, there was some conflict between she and Bourgeois.
During any public election, it's normal to have what is called a Canvassing Board. They are the folks that oversee vote recounts, they validate elections and, generally speaking, are supposed to stay neutral in overseeing the election.
In Haines City, like in many other cities, the Canvassing Board is composed of city commissioners.
During the last municipal election in Haines City, Huffman publicly supported one of the two candidates. As such she had to recuse herself from the Canvassing Board, because she was neutral to the candidates. At the time, the city policy called for city staff to fill in for commissioners who were unable to serve on the board.
Bourgeois felt it was a conflict of interest for her to be on the Canvassing Board afterward. Bourgeois said city staff ought not be on a board that could help determine the outcome of elections
After the meeting ended, Bourgeois was asked if she resigned due to the election or the allegations referencing car insurance. Bourgeois told the Sun that her decision to voluntarily resign had nothing to do with the election, but did not specify why she resigned.