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Palm Coast Thursday, Oct. 31, 2019 2 weeks ago

Flagler County's IT-Fire Rescue spat results in Shupe being reprimanded

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Meanwhile, Fire Rescue Chief Don Petito is so frustrated he's applying to other jobs.
by: Brian McMillan Executive Editor

Updated 3:46 p.m. Oct. 31

Jarrod Shupe, the chief information officer for Flagler County's Information Technology Department, has been given a six-month improvement plan as a result of his public dispute with Fire Rescue Chief Don Petito. Petito was not given an improvement plan, but he is so frustrated with the situation that, after 15 years at the helm, he is applying for jobs outside of the county.

In separate memos, Shupe had criticized Petito in September for "vulgarity-ridden outbursts," and Petito had claimed that Shupe was a "control freak." The two directors disagreed about who should make the decisions regarding the emergency communications system during Hurricane Dorian. See this story for further details.

The dispute between Shupe and Petito led to a Board of Inquiry on Oct. 17. The resulting Performance Improvement Plan for Shupe states that Shupe violated the Flagler County Personnel and Procedures, which forbids "conduct unbecoming of a public employee." The plan requires Shupe to collaborate with his colleagues and to accept feedback. 

The plan, which was signed by Shupe and Flagler County Administrator Jerry Cameron on Oct. 25, chides Shupe for sharing with the media his complaints against Petito and says that if he doesn't improve and display "enthusiasm, creativity and a positive attitude," Shupe could be disciplined further or terminated.

Petito's plans

Petito, meanwhile, had an exchange with Cameron, first reported by FlaglerLive.com, which left Petito feeling ready to leave Flagler County regardless of what happens to Shupe.

"It’s no fun to come to work when you gotta deal with this," Petito said to the Palm Coast Observer on Oct. 31. "I’m applying for other jobs." He continued: "I’ve been here 15 years, and I’ve never had to deal with anything like this. All [Shupe's] complaints don’t match my character. It's ridiculous that it was even considered, and I shouldn't have to put up with that."

Moreover, Petito said, he has not been made aware of any attempts to resolve the original dispute regarding the emergency communications system. If that problem were to be resolved to his satisfaction, he said, "there would be a possibility" that he would be interested in staying Flagler County.

Brian McMillan has been editor of the Palm Coast Observer since it began in 2010. He was named the Journalist of the Year for weekly newspapers in North America by the Local Media Association in 2012. He lives in Palm Coast with his wife and five children. Email...

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