Gateway Sun

As far as epic tangents go, it wasn’t quite on the level of Michael Bolton wanting to discuss Captain Jack Sparrow, but Supervisor Gary Neubauer awkwardly introducing a potential ethics violation involving a fellow board member was some pretty solid side-tracking.

Neubauer interrupted Operations Manager April White at this past Thursday’s GSCDD meeting while White was presenting her status report on key areas of interest to the district.

White was mentioning something along the lines of new scheduled maintenance checks at the Sherman Soccer Complex when Neubauer interjected and asked about reduced insurance coverage involving the Gateway Flag Football League.

With the rest of the room trying to wrap their minds around the sudden topic change, Neubauer abruptly shifted gears yet again and asked in an I-know-something-you-don’t-know tone if somebody on the board happened to have a “financial stake” in the youth leagues.

This is a serious matter brought up by Neubauer. The reason it’s an alarming statement is because a Gateway CDD Supervisor would be in a perfect position to provide either the GFFL or the Gateway Soccer Association with very real financial benefits. Basically, they could redirect Gateway residents’ money in to the pockets of the league’s owners by securing favorable field usage fees or purchasing items of value for the league.

If a Supervisor had a financial stake in a league, that Supervisor would be taking your money and giving it to themselves. Huge problem, if true. And probably a crime.

All eyes seemed to turn to Supervisor Doug Banks who was visibly surprised by the question. Banks sheepishly responded that he volunteered as a coach with the flag football league, but that he didn’t have any kind of ownership in the organization.

Neubauer, not satisfied, asked Banks to repeat himself that he had no financial gain from youth sports in Gateway.

Banks made it clear a second time that he received no financial benefit whatsoever.

It was a painful few moments to watch, to be honest.

The following day the chatter began. One person thanked Neubauer in an email to dozens of people and felt “there must be more to the story”. Another person called it a “witch hunt”. People I spoke with unanimously felt Neubauer was directly accusing Banks of improper conduct, and I felt the exact same thing about Neubauer’s accusatory tone.

So the Gateway Sun reached out to the Presidents of the GFFL and GSA and asked if any Supervisor, and specifically Doug Banks, had a financial stake or received a monetary benefit of any kind from their league.

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From Mark Allison, President of the Gateway Soccer Association:

Absolutely not.

In fact it is insulting question to ask to any board member to think that they would hold their position and have a compensatory stake within the same youth programs they oversee.

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From George Hrunka, President of the Gateway Flag Football League:

No one has a financial stake in the GFFL. No one is on payroll, simply because we do not have a payroll, employees, nor does anyone own stock of any type. The only money that is distributed are for our costs. The only way an individual receives money would be if they served as a referee – which to my knowledge Doug has never had.

The only way Doug is related to the GFFL is that at least two of his kids play and he – along with 350 other kids in the league, and he serves as a coach.

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I’m familiar enough with both organizations that I already knew the answers the leagues would provide, but obviously I had to ask given Neubauer’s rhetoric.

By that time I had also come across the possibility that the source of Neubauer’s ridiculous and incorrect information was one of the candidates currently running for a GSCDD board seat.

And I’ll be completely honest – that pissed me off.

Through both email and text message I asked Neubauer to verify who his source was. I even privately dropped the specific candidate’s name, and Neubauer responded with:

The “insinuations” that you mention are yours-solely yours. I asked a question. A Board member responded. YOU embellished the question. You made innuendos. Sad that this is what you proclaim. Possibly you need to find other adventures to keep you occupied.

Speaking for myself, I’ll take that as a “Yep. It was that person. How did you know?”

But I’ll also respond publicly and directly to Neubauer with this….

Gary, you did technically ask the question of the entire board, but it’s perfectly clear to everyone that you were talking about Doug. That said, Gary… if you want to state for the record that you were asking Vice-Chairman Margaret Fineberg if she owns shares of the Gateway Flag Football League … or that you were asking Chairman William Guy if he has a “financial stake” in the soccer league … or that you were accusing Supervisor Pamela Gill of making extra money by refereeing flag football games … then by all means, you just let me know, Gary.

Just tell me I was wrong. Tell me who you were talking about, if you weren’t talking about Supervisor Banks. I’ll print the correction immediately. I’ll admit I was wrong and apologize on behalf of myself and this publication.

Until Neubauer provides such clarification, I will stake my reputation that he was “insinuating” at the last GSCDD meeting that Supervisor Banks was doing something wrong.

And unless Supervisor Banks VOLUNTEERING for free and expanding his service to the Gateway community by helping coach youth sports is a problem, then Supervisor Gary Neubauer owes Supervisor Doug Banks an unreserved apology.

Pure and simple.

EDITOR’S NOTE: For the record, I did speak to Banks about this issue yesterday and he answered exactly as the heads of the GSA and GFFL did. I realize this doesn’t even need to be said at this point, but Banks stated he does not financially benefit whatsoever from his volunteering with the GFFL and that he has no involvement at all with the GSA. I’m embarrassed (for Neubauer) that I even needed to write this paragraph. In fact I’m embarrassed I even had to write this story, but as a result of Neubauer’s “insinuations” at the district meeting the topic was growing legs. And that was completely unfair to Banks. Hopefully Neubauer will do the right thing and set the record straight, and apologize.

Gary Neubauer we’re gonna need you to focus up.

About Jeff Kuntz

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Editor of the Gateway Sun and owner of restaurant delivery service Florida Food Runner.

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