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Business Watch Murphy and Maxwell

But confirmation and a smoking gun

Last updated on February 16, 2024

Waste Conflict Of Interest No Due Diligence

Throughout Belleair Town Managers Maxwell and Murphy’s tenures, they had a personal and professional relationship with Ms. Rawlins, a prominent political figure and President of Business Watch. With minimal supervision by Belleair commissioners, this relationship influenced Belleair’s hiring practices. At the same time, it impacted Belleair financially. This conduct, if not a conflict of interest or unethical, suggests one occurred and needs investigating.

The Belleair Commission allowed the past town attorney and town manager to negotiate and execute continuing service contracts connected to Business Watch.

I informed officials concerning an undisclosed personal and professional decades-long possible conflict of interest. Town managers Murphy and Maxwell had with Business Watch and its president. Government officials replied that they have no “personal knowledge of or relationship with the organization you reference,”

This is inconceivable since Business Watch president Beth Rawlins is a consultant for ICMA, and ICMA Retirement Corporation administers a 401(k) pension plan for Belleair. Since 2015, Belleair has hired over 20 Business Watch members and affiliates.

Business Watch claims to “get to the right people within local government agencies.” It appears with support from Murphy and no due diligence by town officials, Business Watch did just that. Especially when Town Manager Murphy stated vendors would be hired based on qualifications rather than the lowest bid.
Soon after reporting my concern, Business Watch made its membership webpage inaccessible.

Business Watch members

Business Watch members who paid from $1,000 to $6,000 to “bridge the gap between business and local government.” include McKim & Creed Calvin Giordano AMB, Deuel and Associates, RS&H, Jones Edmunds, Cardno TBE, Pennoni, and others like Safebuilt, and. Business Watch affiliations include ICMA, FIOG, USF, UCF, and their partners are Florida League of Cities, Florida League of Mayors, Florida Center for Local Government Excellence, and Florida City County Management Association.

Maxwell/Murphy recommended all these Business Watch members and their affiliates associated with Business Watch partners and unanimously hired by the Belleair Commission. Who, in August 2018, also allowed Murphy and longtime town attorney Ottinger to negotiate and execute continuing service contracts.
At a town meeting in August 2018, Murphy stated engineering contracts had expired.

Commissioner Shelly moved to award continuing service contracts to Jones Edmunds, McKim & Creed, Cardno TBE, RS&H, and Pennoni, allowing the Town Attorney and Town Manager to negotiate and execute continuing service contracts with the five selected firms.

Commissioner Kurey moved to have Gayle Grady serve as a consultant to the Infrastructure Board, seconded by Commissioner Wilkinson. Gayle Grady was a colleague of Raymond Thorn, an Engineering Application Manager for McKim & Creed from 2017 to 2018

Murphy discussed the need for a lead EOR. He conducted interviews and recommended McKim & Creed as the primary EOR to the Commission. Gayle Grady, Town Board Consultant, supported Murphy’s recommendation.

Calvin Giordano and Associates, a Business Watch member and now Belleair’s Town Planning Consultant-
Deuel and Associates, a Business Watch member 2015 Maxwell, recommended Deuel and Associates for engineering services. The Water line will run from Indian Rocks Road to Rosery in the amount of $65,000;
Commissioner Shelly moved approval for the additional professional engineering services by Deuel & Associates for $130,000.00;

2017 Murphy recommended Commissioner Wilkinson move for approval of professional services engineering services by Deuel and Associates for the Harold’s Lake Sediment Removal Project for $18,750.00;

Murphy urged Commissioner Wilkinson for approval for the professional engineering services by RS&H for the Palmetto Road Project for $50,292.00, seconded by Commissioner Shelly.

In 2017, AMB – Rob Duncan, an FCCMA/ICMA member (Business Watch affiliate), was an account executive for ABM and Business Watch’s corporate directory contact person. Murphy commented to the Finance Board on the value of a single source vendor handling all items and additional savings on staff resources. Murphy commented to the Finance Board on the value of a single source vendor handling all items and additional savings on staff resources. At Murphy’s urging on 3/18, Shelly approved, and Belleair hired ABM. Duncan is now the Interim Town Manager of Kenneth City.

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