The City of Tamarac entered into an agreement on an emergency basis to hire a controversial lifeguard management company to manage the aquatic center. This amidst the company’s nationwide firing controversy.
The company, Jeff Ellis Management, fired Hallandale Beach lifeguard Tomas Lopez on July 2, after he helped a man who had been struggling in the water 1,500 feet south of the company’s boundaries. The 21 year old man from Estonia had been at an unprotected stretch of the beach, where visitors are warned to swim at their own risk.
After a nationwide media frenzy, Jeff Ellis Management offered Lopez his job back, which was declined.
Jeff Ellis Management was the original management company of Tamarac’s Caporella Aquatic center since it opened in 2005. They continued managing it until February of 2012 when Pool Management Inc. was hired by the city.
City Manager Michael Cernech declared a state of emergency under the Tamarac Procurement Code as well as a waiver of purchasing procedures to avoid the serious disruption of city services after firing Pool Management Inc. for breach of contract as a result of serious safety violations.
During the past few weeks, the Parks and Recreation Department had noted some serious deficiencies in the performance of PMI(Pool Management). The City attempted to work with PMI to cure these deficiencies; however, they did not correct the most serious issues by the deadline provided to them, and as a result of these serious safety violations and breaches, the City formally terminated their Agreement effective July 5, 2012.” – City Manager Michael Cernech
The safety violations were not specified in his memo. However, Assistant City Manager Diane Phillips said, “Essentially, there was a change in management at Pool Management Inc. In conjunction with that change, the original aquatics center manager was replaced and the new manager did not have the credentials or experience specified in the contract.”
Cernech determined that the city would contact Jeff Ellis Management to take over the responsibilities of managing the pool during the remainder of the busy season so as not to cause a disruption in the operation of the facility. The company was considered by Cernich because staff was confident in their extensive experience with the operation requirements of the facility.
Cernech said the city plans to issue a proposal in the near future to solicit for a new agreement, but wanted to maintain continuity of operations for the remainder of the swimming season by using Jeff Ellis Management until November 30.
In a public memo, Jeff Ellis, President of Jeff Ellis Management, advised Hallandale Beach City Manager Renee Crichton that the lifeguard company will not seek future service agreements to manage Hallandale’s aquatic operations. As part of his promise to “make it right,” following the controversial termination of lifeguard Tomas Lopez, Ellis has determined that it would be inappropriate for the company to seek future service agreements with the city.