Never a dull moment in Deltona

When the city’s human resources director wore a pink shirt, Deltona City Acting Manager John Peter III pointed out that he needs to be comfortable with his sexuality.

At another government meeting, employees discussed college football. “Are you from West Virginia?” That explains a lot, ”said Peters, making an incest joke about how a family tree looks like a single stick in this state.

On another occasion, Peters called residents living in a high crime area with rental housing “these people”, which the HR manager interpreted as a racial insult.

The city of Deltona, which faces at least two Peters-related lawsuits, hired an outside lawyer this spring to investigate Peters’ comments. city ​​spokesperson Lee lopez has not been able to say how much the outside lawyer has cost taxpayers since Florida Politics began asking on Nov. 12.

“Mr. Peters made remarks on three different occasions which were inappropriate and offensive,” said an April 19 report by a lawyer Russell Divine. The report does not say when the city manager made the comments.

Mayor of Deltone Heidi herzberg did not return a message for comment, but it appears the city commissioners were happy with Peters’ performance and granted him a nearly 3% raise last Monday.

The City of Deltona Commission voted increase their annual salary to $ 169,680, reported the Daytona Beach News-Journal.

“Peters indicated that the request he made on Monday (November 15) was based on the ‘superior to excellent’ ratings he has received since becoming interim city manager last December,” said the newspaper, noting that Peters had also received raises of $ 2,500 in April and July after his performance reviews.

Peters did not respond to a request for comment for this story, but in the Divine report he gives his side of events.

That pink shirt?

Peters “admitted he shouldn’t have made this comment and expressed regret for doing so,” according to Divine’s report.

“These people?”

“Mr. Peters indicated that he believes the comment was not properly understood and taken out of context,” the Divine report said. It wasn’t meant to be a racial comment, and Peters added “to his knowledge the residents of the area are predominantly white.”

What about the incest joke in West Virginia?

“The band was joking, and they were just trying to be funny,” the Divine report noted.

This is not the first time that Peters has faced complaints of inappropriate remarks.

Peters “used the word orgasm to describe something” during one of his first team meetings after being hired as Deltona’s public works manager, before being promoted to general manager. The complaints were detailed in a July 2020 memo in Peters’ personnel file.

A bulletin board from the public works department mentioned a road closure that had not yet been authorized. Peters called it “premature ejaculation,” an employee said.

The employee “was not offended or took this disrespectfully, but someone else may not have received the comment,” the employee wrote in an email. .

Richard adams, then director of human resources at Deltona, recommended that Peters go through “an informal counseling session” with him, according to a July 31, 2020 memo that was placed in Peters’ personal file, which is a public document. Peters also vowed to “refrain from using such language at work and would apologize to his team for any past comments that anyone may have deemed inappropriate.”

Adams, who was the man wearing the pink shirt, didn’t get along with Peters, according to Divine’s report.

“Mr. Peters repeatedly told Mr. Adams that he was not happy” that the note was placed in his personal file. Divine report noted. “It is clear that Mr. Adams and Mr. Peters had disagreements over HR matters in general and how they should be handled. Overall, it seems that Mr. Peters and Mr. Adams have different management styles which sometimes conflict and at times this has led to friction between them.

In a lawsuit he filed this year, Adams claims he was fired in retaliation after telling the CEO he was investigating him for inappropriate and discriminatory comments.

Deltona was also recently sued by Marc-Antoine Cooper, the former black interim city manager of Deltona, who said the city racially discriminated against him by passing him off as the permanent position and hiring Peters instead.

Deltona does not comment on the pending litigation, Lopez said.

Deltona, a town of about 93,000 residents, is about 30 minutes north of Orlando in Volusia County.

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