Deferred investigation into St. Johns historical preservation position raises questions
The St. Johns County Administrator’s contract was renewed Tuesday earlier than expected. It comes as questions surround the way Hunter Conrad’s staff managed the office which was aimed at preserving history.
>>> STREAM ACTION NEWS JAX LIVE <<<
Trey Asner, who was previously in the position, claimed he was forced out because the job did not match up with the county’s development goals.
“I recommend this board not renew Mr. Conrad’s contract early until there is a proper investigation that addresses the retaliation against my office,” he said during Tuesday’s county commission meeting.
[DOWNLOAD: Free Action News Jax app for alerts as news breaks]
Asner said he was forced to resign in Aug. 2022. He requested an investigation from the Inspector General’s Office on Sept. 6. The office is supposed to respond within 30 days under county guidelines, but Asner instead got a response six months later on Mar. 1, after he made public comment at county commission.
Related Story: SJC coordinator for historical preservation forced out, position scrubbed according to claims
“It was not until the public comment that he made that I became aware and inquired about what was going on with this complaint,” Brandon Patty, the Clerk of Court, said.
The assistant inspector general said in an email to Asner, “Allegations of retaliation, Equal Employment Opportunities, and grievances are handled by the St. Johns County Human Resources Department...”.
Patty said the allegations did not match the IG’s office’s definition of fraud, waste, and abuse.
“Though I do believe that this does constitute as abuse. Abuse of power to put pressure on employees to do unethical things in nature,” Asner said. “I’m worried about how administration got rid of my office and left so much up for grabs — so much heritage at risk.”
Commissioners did have questions about Asner’s resignation, but voted unanimously to approve Conrad’s contract.
[SIGN UP: Action News Jax Daily Headlines Newsletter]
Action News Jax reached out to the county to see who currently has the duties of the cultural resources coordinator, we have not heard back an update.
STAY UPDATED: Download the Action News Jax app for live updates on breaking stories