Port Orange mayor lashes out at watchdog group

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PORT ORANGE, Fla. - The mayor of Port Orange is lashing out at citizen government watchdogs, saying they've created a caustic environment that's responsible for the resignations of five city department heads.

But members of the citizens group said their volunteer work has only served to help save the city millions of dollars.

Mayor Allen Green agrees that the citizens who've kept a very close eye on City Hall have brought legitimate issues to light, but he believes they should have brought those issues to the department heads instead of their elected City Council members.

A small group of a dozen citizens who call themselves Port Orange Activists have managed to successfully fight City Hall after digging through city records and uncovering government waste that cost taxpayers millions.

One of their biggest finds was that the city installed new water meters that were not measuring water usage.

No one with the city noticed for months.

But soon after it came out, City Manager Ken Parker and Chief Financial Officer John Shelly, stepped down.

A year-and-a-half later there is a new round of five resignations.

The resignations come after the same citizens exposed the Utilities Department overspent a water meter contract by $400,000 and then tried to hide the mistake.

But Green isn’t giving the group a thank you letter.

"They're not necessarily good citizens," he said. "Some of them are self-serving issues. Let me be real clear about that."

"How so?" asked Channel 9's Lori Brown.

"Well, if you don't want to raise taxes, as an example," said Green.

"So the citizens are self-serving in the sense they don't want to raise taxes?" asked Brown.

"That's only part of it," said Green.

Green wouldn’t say what the other part was.

Mark Schaefer, a citizen who exposed some of the problems, said his group just wants hold officials accountable and make the city better.

"Don't attack the messenger," he said. "It's not that they wanted the city manager to step down, they wanted him to step up and take care of the problems in the departments."

Green said he blames himself for the city manager's departure. He said he should have stepped up and supported him more in the face of all the criticism.