While preparing this story of last nights City Council meeting we have learned that Peter Filiberto has resign his seat.
Written by Kevin Vaccianna
Palm Bay City met on Thursday, February 16, 2023. The meeting opened with an invocation from Pastor Paul Fournier at Lifepoint Church to pray for the council’s wisdom and lift “a person caught in a compromising situation,” followed by a flag ceremony from local Boy Scout Troup 525.
A little over fifteen minutes into the meeting, Mayor Medina turned the meeting to Councilman Johnson, who inquired with the City Attorney for directives on suspending a councilman. Although Peter Filiberto’s name was rarely mentioned, the question of suspension directly advised options for a person who was charged but not yet adjudicated of a felony. Palm Bay Police Department arrested Councilman Peter Filiberto on Saturday, February 11, 2023. Councilman Peter Filiberto was absent from this meeting.
The City Attorney advised the council that the option at this time is to request suspension with a letter to Governor DeSantis’ office to remove Filiberto from office. Following the suspension discussion, Councilman Johnson asked for clarification on removing a council member for absenteeism. The city statutes direct the removal of a council member for absenteeism when the council member misses four consecutive meetings.
Council opened the meeting to public comments that ranged from compassion to one affected by addiction to outrage demanding background checks and testing for all members of the City Council and City staff. Except for a couple of speakers, most felt Filiberto should be immediately removed. The meeting turned back to the discussion with City Council regarding the issue.
Representative Fine’s support of Filiberto as well as Fine’s silence in the scandal, were noted in public comments and council discussions. Councilman Kenny Johnson pointedly discussed Fine’s actions throughout the events:
“He didn’t condemn them; he didn’t call for the removal; he didn’t call for investigation; he didn’t call the community to call their cell phones; he didn’t send out robotexts; he didn’t do no news press conferences, no mailers, no robocalls, no nothing. Since I’ve been elected, I’ve been the victim, and I’ve had to deal with all of this. I haven’t been the subject of an investigation, nor have I been arrested while an elected official. I’m not going to sit up here and say I’m perfect. I’m not. But one thing’s for sure, I haven’t been breaking the law while I’ve been an elected official.
And I don’t want to just make it about me, because these other men next to me, Mayor, Deputy Mayor Felix, Councilman Foster – they haven’t either. But steadily we hear the terms – thugs, thugs in bowtie, stains on the community, corrupt, pedophile, violent, sexual predators, demons, boy, and these other dog whistling terms that are for something else that somebody wants to say. And since these previous individuals have been replaced, he’s been working relentlessly … doing whatever he can to get people in place that he wants in place to do his bidding. And now we’re back to square one with my councilman Filiberto supporting and endorsed by Representative Randy Fine, and it turns out that he’s promoted and supports and has a consistent, chronic habit of breaking the laws he’s sworn to uphold. Where’s the press conference, Mr. Fine? Where’s the Facebook posts? Where’s the hashtag? Where’s the mailers? Where’s the text messages? Where’s the letter to Phil Archer demanding his investigation? Just like the same councilman tonight, he’s absent.
What’s the biggest difference between us and councilman Filiberto not having a criminal record? If it’s not obvious, it’s in black and white.”
He concluded his speech by stating that he “would not allow this sociopathic, narcissist, admitted bully, extortionist and yes, racist coward to continue to victimize our city and any of us any longer.” Upon concluding his speech, Johnson motioned to give the City Attorney direction to draft a letter to the Office of the Governor requesting the governor suspend Councilman Filiberto.
Councilman Johnson seconded the motion to open the discussion and spoke that public officials should be held to a higher standard. At times speaking directly to the cameras and addressing the absent Filiberto directly, “You are held to a higher standard, Peter. You took an oath of office, Peter to uphold the constitution of the United States and Florida.” Johnson further explained expectations of serving on the Council are a higher standard than being proven guilty in a court of law and further that Filiberto should have appeared in Council Chambers to apologize directly to constituents in the meeting. Johnson closed by looking into the camera again to address Filiberto, “Peter, please. Do the right thing; resign so that we can get this past us. I don’t want to have to send this letter to the Governor. We don’t have a resignation; it leaves us no choice but to do that.” Overall, City Council felt the best result for Palm Bay would be for Councilman Filiberto to resign but unanimously approved Johnson’s motion to write the request for the suspension to the Governor.
Reports show that Filiberto resigned on February 17 with a simple letter on Palm Bay letterhead, “I hereby resign as a Councilmember for the city of Palm Bay effective immediately.” Palm Bay City Council will meet again on Thursday, March 2nd at 6 p.m. to discuss next steps in replacing Councilman Filiberto.