Century In Depth: Stolen Documents, Council President’s Loan

November 30, 2018

As the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office investigates the reported theft of documents from the Century Town Hall, the council president is  speculating that nothing was actually stolen and answering questions about a loan she received from the town over 20 years ago.

Mayor Henry Hawkins told NorthEcambia.com that the town clerk’s notes and audio recordings from September town council meetings were stolen, along with documents pertaining to a now-satisfied economic development mortgage loan made to town council President Ann Brooks years before she took office. Town Clerk Kim Godwin filed a theft report Tuesday with the Sheriff’s Office.  [Read earlier story from Thursday...]

Brooks said Thursday that she does not believe that anyone actually stole notes or recordings from the town hall; she blames the missing items on the town clerk’s lack of organization.

“I think that maybe the town clerk possibly can’t locate them now, possibly due to not being organized,” Brooks said. “I think that’s she has misplaced them or lost them.”

At a November 19 town council meeting, Brooks warned Godwin that someone could go to jail for violating the Sunshine Law, which stipulates minutes should be prepared “promptly”. Godwin has not presented the council with minutes from multiple meetings in September, October and November.

The theft complaints come as the State Attorney’s Office continues an investigation into town business.

NorthEscambia.com first reported that the State Attorney’s Office was reviewing items involving the town of Century. Three council members reportedly attended at least some portion of a closed door meeting with CPA Robert Hudson, Godwin and the town’s auditors. The meeting was not advertised as a public meeting, which would forbid more than one council member from taking part under Florida’s Sunshine Laws.

Assistant State Attorney Greg Marcille said the inquiry is still underway.

Brooks said she welcomes an investigation into Century.

“I think that needs to happen to bring a lot of things to light in the town of Century. Things that are happening that shouldn’t happen, and things are not being run properly,” she said.

Brooks said earlier this year that she received a $50,000 loan in 1997 and made her final payment in 2011. Brooks was not in office at the time the loan originated. She ran unsuccessfully for a council seat in 2003 and mayor in 2006 before being elected to her current council seat in 2007.

The documents pertaining to the loan were among the items reported stolen, but Brooks said she does not think a theft occurred.

During a regular audit into the town’s finances during the summer,  Brooks said the mayor and council member Luis Gomez asked to see documentation for her loan. “The town clerk could not produce it; after saying that searched for it, she was unable to find it.”

NorthEscambia.com made a formal public records request on July 18 for the loan documents. Godwin responded to the the email, “I’m sending it to you bits at a time”, but documentation on Brooks’ loan and other requested items still have not been received over four months later.

On August 7, Brooks emailed copies of her loan documentation from her personal files to Godwin and Deputy Clerk Kristina Wood, according to documentation she provided.

On Thursday, she also provided NorthEscambia.com with copies of the original mortgage agreement, repayment records, copies of checks and a signed receipt from the Town of Century showing the loan was paid in full in 2011. A copy of the payoff check is below (Editor’s note: The account number was redacted by NorthEscambia.com).

After the publication of a NorthEscambia.com article Thursday, Brooks emailed the town auditing firm and received confirmation that auditors received a the loan documents from Wood on August 7.

“Regardless of what happened to those loan documents in city hall, they had those loan documents on August 7 and forwarded them to our town’s auditor. There are just so many strange things going on in city hall that I can’t really begin to tell you what’s really going on. But we need something to happen,” the council president said.

Brooks noted that she does not have physical access to documents in the town hall; instead, she makes “many, many” public records requests. “I don’t go in city hall except for council meetings or an election or something like that.”

Pictured top: Century Council President Ann Brooks. Pictured inset: Town Clerk Kim Godwin. NorthEscambia.com photos, click to enlarge.

Comments

27 Responses to “Century In Depth: Stolen Documents, Council President’s Loan”

  1. M in Bratt on December 3rd, 2018 5:20 pm

    @Referendum, I’m not sure what statute you are quoting, but the chapter on dissolving a municipality is 165.051. There are two ways to dissolve a city, none of them being by petition. The ways as spelled out; 165.051 Dissolution procedures.—
    (1) The charter of any existing municipality may be revoked and the municipal corporation dissolved by either:
    (a) A special act of the Legislature; or
    (b) An ordinance of the governing body of the municipality, approved by a vote of the qualified voters. I doubt that a petition drive would move the town council, but it could encourage the Legislative delegation to take action. Maybe a group of citizens should sit down with Mr. Hill and talk about the possibilities, and pick a direction.

  2. Referendum on December 2nd, 2018 10:00 am

    Chapter 165.061 Florida Statutes clearly shows the means to unincorporate (dissolve) the Town of Century. A petition needs to get a referendum on the ballot.

    Clearly, the services provided by the Town can be merged into the utilities and public services already administered by Escambia County, ECUA, and Pensacola Energy. Or, they might be privatized. Existing municipal workers are protected under the statute by a merging clause.

    Century residents need to make a big decision about their future when it comes to governance. Keep in mind, Century only has 1,602 residents (of all ages) as of April 1,2018 (U of F BEBR estimate). That would fill just under 33% of the seats at Blue Wahoos Stadium, or 1.7% of Bryant-Denny Stadium, if every man, woman and child attended! In a county with Escambia’s population, a minimum of 5,000 people are needed in order to even consider BECOMING a municipality. In fact, Century only has 102 more people than needed to incorporate even for a small Florida county.

    Is having a municipal governmental layer in Century really worth all of the hassle and expenditures? Both from an economic and time perspective, such resources could be directed towards community improvement, not investigations.

    What will Century be in 5, 10, 30, and 50 years? Is a municipal government a part of a better future? If so, how? Citizens need to engage and make some tough decisions.

  3. Curious on December 1st, 2018 5:46 pm

    Why don’t the citizens of Century recall the Mayor?

  4. John on December 1st, 2018 1:59 pm

    Yet, all we ever hear about is how no good and evil the City of PNS is. Seems that Century is out doing Chicago these days.

  5. Cuz Danny on December 1st, 2018 10:51 am

    You can’t find/see stuff like this on TV or The Movies – IS THIS TOWN FOR REAL or WHAT ? Call in the FDLE to investigate !

  6. Shay on December 1st, 2018 9:00 am

    @native

    Exactly and why just September’s notes? Not October’s or November’s. Just September’s. So someone wants us to believe a thief found her notes and audio recordings and took the time to just take September’s. Someone wanted those minutes and those minutes only. The Governor needs to come in and get rid of everybody and set new people in place for the good of Century.

  7. Native on December 1st, 2018 6:09 am

    How can the minutes actually be lost unless they were never prepared in the first place or intentionally hidden. I’m sure the minutes would be created and stored on some sort of computer and could be recovered. It’s not like we live in the 18th century when official documents were created using paper and quill.

  8. NE Resident. on November 30th, 2018 5:16 pm

    EVERY. SINGLE. WEEK. We see a article on Century, When is enough enough?

  9. No Drama keep the water running in and out. on November 30th, 2018 3:41 pm

    Contact FL Representative and ask for a full non criminal operational audit and/or recommendation to dissolve the charter and set up other providers for municipal services. The longer this draws out the more it costs the taxpayers in and out of the boundaries of the municipality.

    To actually delve into and prosecute misfeasance, sunshine and public record violations and mismanagement would be interesting for an audience but the best outcome would be to dissolve the incorporation.

    The council will not see the value in doing that nor most of the citizens.

    There are not enough residents to replace these positions on the council or mayor and the pay there is only a pittance.

    They are approaching financial emergency from past practices of using the special fund to prop up the general fund. It will never be repaid and the gas department collapsed.

    The accountant and town attorney (we see you) also let it get to this point. Imo a great deal of incompetence and greed has led to the demise but if a resident tries to point this out, due to an apparent lack of understanding of the rest of the electorate, they will blame and call racism and other uncivil unnecessary responses.

    So rather than stir the pot and comment, pick up the phone and be part of the solution or email this link to the Fl legislature or auditor general and JLAC, ECUA D5 and Commissioner D5.

    Be on alert for a peaceful transition of services. Simple as that.

    Council if you want to avoid embarrassment. Call for this yourself.

  10. Chelleepea on November 30th, 2018 3:28 pm

    Must agree with Ms. Brooks…..no matter if the minutes were really stolen or misplaced it’s the town clerk’s responsibility. It’s seems right that the mayor is siding with his employees but this looks bad for both of them. And again bad PR for Century.

  11. tg on November 30th, 2018 2:52 pm

    Mike Ellis this is where you get the real news. No fake news here.

  12. Les cunningham on November 30th, 2018 2:28 pm

    SOMEBODY NEEDS TO GO TO JAIL

  13. D in Bratt on November 30th, 2018 1:41 pm

    CLEAN HOUSE! Officials need to be elected on knowledge and qualifications.

  14. IMHO on November 30th, 2018 10:50 am

    Shay, all of the above. Ms Brooks ain’t dumb.

  15. Mike Ellis on November 30th, 2018 10:48 am

    I came to this site from the WEAR report – pretty good site by the way..

    @ Edna “EVERYONE WOULD KNOW THAT A CPA WOULD HAVE GOOD RECORDS”

    I’m coming late to the party here but I agree that an “ethical” CPA would do well to keep good records. I also would know that a CPA knows very well how to shift records and work numbers and fuzzy math to make records appear just the way they want them to appear. I use to be married to one. fact. Hopefully Miss Brooks or anyone is not trying to get rid of past records. It all will come to the light eventually and God is watching!

  16. Clueless Bob on November 30th, 2018 10:37 am

    Here we go again. Welcome Back Ann Brooks! So, I’ll start by saying I have no clue what the Mayor’s purpose is by getting law enforcement involved especially if he did not discuss this first with the council to at least get an agreement on how to move forward. Did he?? Hopefully this wasn’t just a blind-sided move to pay Ann Brooks back for her blindsiding. Seems like the power struggle is still in play with those two.

    Also, we have to remember that all of the loans, funneling of money, building CPA’s buildings, buying land, and back door deals (like @ Just Saying mentioned-wow!) occurred during the previous administrations. So I’d be interested in hearing more of what the new council members have to say about what they are witnessing.

  17. Edna on November 30th, 2018 9:45 am

    REALLY..STOLEN?????….WHO WOULD BE SO SELECTIVE IN STEALING TOWN DOCUMENTS?? WHO HAS ACCESS TO THE CLERK’S OFFICE??? WHOSE RESPONSIBILITY IS IT, OTHER THAN THE CLERK’S, TO PROTECT HER DOCUMENTS??? IS IT NOT A CRIME TO BE CARELESS WITH SUCH DOCUMENTS???
    GIVE THE CITIZENS WHAT THEY DESERVE……..HONESTY WOULD BE A GOOD START……….EMBARRASSING TO SAY THE LEAST~~~ EVERYONE WOULD KNOW THAT A CPA WOULD HAVE GOOD RECORDS….THANK YOU ANN FOR TRYING TO DO WHAT IS RIGHT …. BEST OF LUCK TO YOU…..DON’T GIVE UP!!!

  18. sam on November 30th, 2018 9:17 am

    the copy of the check should clear up ms brooks side, now the mayors?

  19. Just saying on November 30th, 2018 9:04 am

    I find is so hard to understand all the shady stuff that goes on in Century with leadership. I remember the investigation into a council member who had clearly tried to extort and easement from an elderly couple for the towns gas franchise and now its loan and missing paperwork. And why does this council member have to now make sure everyone knows they don’t have access to documents are you worried someone will accuse you of being the one who took them?

    Its all nonsense city hall is like a toilet that just needs a good flushing.

  20. Shay on November 30th, 2018 8:39 am

    I can’t figure out if she is back tracking, throwing everybody else under the bus, deflecting guilt or all of the above. Smh. This is a crap show and the laughing stock of north Escambia.

  21. Northendbratt on November 30th, 2018 8:16 am

    I find it hard to believe that anyone would think that Anne Brooks wouldn’t be able to produce documents proving she paid a loan.This is embarrassing for folks all over to see this freak show!!!

  22. M in Bratt on November 30th, 2018 7:23 am

    With all this attention focused on Ms. Brooks, it seems that the OUTSTANDING loan to Ms. Jackson has been forgotten. I just want to know where I can pick up a First Bank of Century loan application? Maybe the Mayor and staff lost all the applications with the rest of the records.

  23. tg on November 30th, 2018 7:18 am

    This has replaced the Soap Oprah { As The World Turns]

  24. Anne on November 30th, 2018 6:22 am

    Speeding concerns in the Town of Century resolved by members of the City Council making speed bumps by throwing each other under the bus.
    Something reeks of mismanagement and poor followup on record keeping in this small community.
    Lordy, the CITIZENS are the ones who suffer the goofiness and possible illegal activities of the members of Council and their underlings.
    Sheriff Andy and Deputy Barney need to get busy and investigate before there’s more “Lost or misplaced” records.
    Lord Help the Taxpaying Folks in Century.

  25. Mike Amerson on November 30th, 2018 5:53 am

    I guess I’m lost, but how can a Town/City loan anyone money [50k]? Even if it’s okay with employees, what was her position in 1997? If someone could get their hands on those original documents [which I doubt anyone ever will], it would be interesting to see who approved it, why they approved it and how they wrote it up to make it look right. It would take quiet a while for someone to go back and investigate all of the towns business/records/loans etc… but I would bet numerous past/present Counsel Members/Mayors/Clerks etc.. would have some questions to answer. If you could get someone to complete a Rico Act type investigation at the Federal/State level, I think it would clear it all up.

  26. Merry Christmas on November 30th, 2018 2:55 am

    https://www.dummies.com/careers/business-skills/meeting-minutes-according-to-roberts-rules/

    Really is a shame Ms Brooks is having to go through this but I trust she has about had it. Request an full blown operational audit from our State Representives.

  27. Southbound on November 30th, 2018 2:22 am

    The town should look into having a reality show and use the money to pay down debts.
    You cant make this stuff up.
    Play stupid games, you win stupid prizes.





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