Hollywood City Attorney Charged With DUI Faces Uncertain Job Future

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HOLLYWOOD (CBSMiami) – The job of the city attorney in Hollywood is on the line.

The news comes months after Jeff Sheffel was arrested for DUI, and weeks after concerns about low morale, poor behavior in his office arose and concerns over the amount of payments to outside attorneys.

Sheffel was arrested for driving drunk back in March after getting his car stuck on the Hollywood bridge.

“I know I had too much to drink,” a police report quoted Sheffel as saying at the time of the arrest.

Since then, city commissioners have been confronted with problems in the city attorney’s office. For instance, a human resources memo where employees expressed concerns about Sheffel, including:

* Accusations that the City Attorney was apparently inebriated while representing the city.

* The office has severe organizational deficiencies.

* (Sheffel) berates employees in front of others.

* Uses the F bomb in the office.

* Makes employees feel stupid.

* Has Anger management issues, and

* Employees are fearful of retaliation.

The report also stated the city attorney allegedly said to his employees:

“What happens in the City Attorney’s office stays in the City Attorney’s office” and “If I am going down for this, you are all going with me.”

Vice-Mayor Traci Callari is troubled by the allegations and seconded a motion at a city commission meeting on Wednesday asking Sheffel to resign and outline a separation agreement from the city. She said the work environment for city employees is paramount.

“Employees if they are concerned about how things are being handled, then it’s up to us as the commission that they feel safe in their working environment,” Callari said after the meeting.

However, Mayor Josh Levy wants Sheffel, the city attorney for nine years, to stay on.

“The thought of losing that knowledge and expertise that Mr. Sheffel has is disappointing,” Levy said.

Levy said the Human Resources memo did not reveal any violations.

“The ultimate conclusion of the memo was that perhaps there wasn’t a respectful atmosphere in the office but there was no finding of any hostile environment,” Levy said.

Sheffel left the meeting without commenting. But during the meeting he did tell commissioners, “I don’t want to be the city attorney if people don’t want me to be the city attorney.”

Another issue that was raised deals with payments made to an outside law firm representing the city in litigation. According to city emails, the city attorney’s office spent more than $80,000 above the budgeted amount of $600,000 for legal services.

Sheffel defended his practices saying, “Never once did I ask the city to pay a bill that was beyond the city’s authorization.”

Sheffel also said that one of the reasons things might be behind is because his office is short staffed and lacking an executive assistant.

Callari shot back that those problems might be of Sheffell’s own making.

“People are leaving,” Callari said. “They leave the department because they’re unsatisfied, because of the behaviors and that is what’s in the HR report.”

Levy said he believes the city attorney has made strides to improve the morale in his office.

It is expected that the city attorney’s future will discussed and decided at the city’s next commission meeting.

More from Carey Codd
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