By on July 12, 2008

David Schmidt, Kevin Blake, David Arrow, Cameron Francis, Mark Sexton, Brian Williams, Timothy Altmeyer and John Felix in Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde (1999)According to The Gainesville Sun, Mark Sexton was the director/actor for the local Hippodrome State Theatre. In August 2004, Alachua County hired Sexton as their official, part-time spokesman, at a salary of $50,298 (now $59,475). After a couple of tropical storms, County Manager Randall Reid authorized a county-paid car for Sexton AND "unlimited use" for his personal Prius. So now… "The accident happened on Christmas night 2006. Sexton was on vacation in Miami when he struck Miami Beach resident Felix Lopez while Lopez – who was dressed as a woman – was crossing the street. A police report states the officer was unable to determine who was at fault and that no injuries were reported at the scene. Sexton did not tell county officials of the accident until about a month later, when a legal notice was sent to the county. Lopez has since sued the county. Commissioners discussed whether to defend Sexton in the suit and eventually decided to do so. Sexton said he had consulted an attorney and threatened to sue if the county did not defend him." Needless to say, this is just one example of the nationwide scrutiny suddenly facing government workers' use of taxpayer-funded vehicles (e.g. LA County's $433m fleet of 12,780 vehicles) now that gas prices have soared. As for Sexton, "he doesn't remember how much gas was in the tank when he left for Miami but added he is pretty certain he bought gas with his own money during the trip." And no, this is not the plot of a Carl Hiassen novel.

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12 Comments on “Taxpayer-Funded Vehicles Face Increased Scrutiny. To Wit:...”


  • avatar
    Andy D

    No, but I betcha Hiaasen is taking notes. I read his stuff as fast as it is published. I dont really care for Florida’s climate or topography, but I read lots of books set in FL
    I home garage my work van. I would be in deep doo-doo if I ran over a transvestite on Xmas Eve with it. It is strictly verboten to drive it for personal use.

  • avatar
    50merc

    It’d be nice if the newspaper pursued this story. There’s enough in the article to show the county manager is presiding over a mess.

    The county administrative manual says “As stewards of the public trust, all County employees must use the powers and resources of the County entrusted to them by the public to further the public interest, and not for personal gain or benefit.”

    Obviously, the insiders aren’t worried about that policy. But there’s another player: the IRS, where “free” doesn’t mean “non-taxable.” As the vehicle use policy says, “County employees that [they mean “who”] are provided the use of a County vehicle as a component of employment compensation will be required to comply with this policy to ensure Internal Revenue Service (IRS) rules are observed with uniformity.” The Risk Manager director is supposed to review vehicle usage.

    So a reporter should be asking: Where are the vehicle use logs? What do the logs show? What amount of personal use shows up on employees’ W-2 forms? Has the county failed to properly report compensation? Has the county failed to properly withhold taxes on pay? Are employees vulnerable to charges of underreporting income?

    Gainesville Sun, here’s your chance at a Pulitzer.

  • avatar
    yankinwaoz

    Actually the insurance company for the car is responsible for defending the driver. If the County is self-insured, then the County responsible.

    It doesn’t sound like they required staff to buy their own insurance to drive a County car on personal time. Therefore the County was insuring the car at ALL times. Sounds pretty cut-n-dry to me.

    Now, there is another issue, which is the use of County cars for personal use. If that was a job perk, then that is fine. But it sounds like the County is trying to have it both ways. They want to give staff a car perk, but they want to pretend they really didn’t do so.

    The fact is, they did. So they need to suck up and take responsibility.

  • avatar
    James2

    I’m surprised no one –until now– has commented that a part-time gig is worth $50-60K. This county must be overflowing with tax revenues.

  • avatar
    Gregzilla

    James2 Says:
    July 12th, 2008 at 5:26 pm
    I’m surprised no one –until now– has commented that a part-time gig is worth $50-60K. This county must be overflowing with tax revenues

    The University of Florida is in Alachua county…quite a source of revenue.

    This makes me proud to be a Floridian. Never a dull moment….

  • avatar
    ihatetrees

    And no, this is not the plot of a Carl Hiassen novel.

    It’s not THAT weird. However, I think this deserves a WTF subject classification.

  • avatar

    ihatetrees:

    It’s not THAT weird. However, I think this deserves a WTF subject classification.

    Done.

    With a bit more info (e.g. what was Sexton doing in Miami on Christmas Eve and is it just a coincidence that he bumped into a transvestite?), I’m sure there’s a CH tale to be told.

  • avatar
    william442

    As a long time resident, I assure you that at least 90% of Florida residents are nuts.

  • avatar
    ZoomZoom

    Why should any government entity even be in the business of buying cars? Seems to me that this opens the door for personal (mis)use scandals.

    william442 Says:

    As a long time resident, I assure you that at least 90% of Florida residents are nuts.

    Hmm, so you know us all?

  • avatar

    Headline amended.

  • avatar
    Rob P

    Well, Alachua County is home to the University of Florida, one of the largest state schools in Florida, so, they’re not exactly starved for cash. UF has made that two-horse garbage town into a psuedo-metropolis with many too many people living there than really should be.

    Secondly, Sexton is a scumbag, just like any other government official, running over trannys not withstanding.

  • avatar

    Hmm, so you know us all?

    Nope, but apparently at least 90% of you.


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