BY JAMES HARPER
Hemis Ivey, chairman of the Midtown Redevelopment Area Board, does not understand why the local daily paper has chosen to write a story about him on an arrest that took place almost three years ago.
The headline in the Daytona Beach News-Journal read, “Daytona’s Midtown board chairman has criminal history, records show.”
“It was a matter of public record. It is insignificant to me (that the News-Journal ran a story). I want to thank all the people who contacted me personally after reading the story and stood by me,” Ivey said.
Susan Cerbone, a spokesman for Daytona Beach, told the Daytona Times this week that “having a felony arrest or conviction does not disqualify a person from serving on a city board.”
“Evidence will show that I should not have been convicted,” said Ivey in an exclusive interview with the Daytona Times.
Ivey said he is appealing a jury verdict. He was found guilty of grand theft in a trial last September, court records show. Adjudication was withheld and Ivey was placed on probation for three years.
The actual incident occurred in 2010, a police report shows. It involved a 2008 Dodge truck Ivey owned that was being repossessed.
The driver of a tow truck owned by Florida Recovery Systems was dispatched to Ivey’s address to repossess the pickup.
Ivey allegedly got into his pickup and drove it off the back of the tow truck as it was lifting the vehicle, the report shows. Ivey’s actions damaged the tow truck’s hydraulic lift system, police said.
The officer said Ivey then refused to speak with him while the policeman drove Ivey to police headquarters on Valor Boulevard, the report shows.
In December, Ivey told The Daytona Beach News-Journal that he was done with the board because his term had expired. But on Jan. 8, he was named chairman of the panel again, city records show.
City Commissioner Paula Reed, whose area of representation includes Midtown, said Ivey was only given a three-month extension on the board, not a reappointment. In a voicemail message Tuesday, Reed said a “reassessment” is being done on the Midtown redevelopment plan and Ivey is familiar with both the reassessment and the company that’s doing it.
Besides the grand theft charge, Ivey was also found guilty of battery in 2004, court records show. Adjudication was withheld in that case, as well, but a judge ordered Ivey to attend anger management classes.
A police report stated that Ivey was seen on Lincoln Street in his pickup at which time he refused to give his version of the incident “until he spoke to his lawyer.”
Ivey said he pled guilty to a battery charge in 2004 after defending himself from the owners of a storage unit while looking into a matter involving his mother.
Ivey, who has his own business and is a veteran who served in the Army for 15 years before he was honorably discharged, said the daily newspaper’s article would not stop him from making a difference in the city.
“Because I am self-employed, this allows me to control my destiny. I will continue to be self-employed and create my own path,” said Ivey, who believes he should not have been found guilty and is not worried now that the story is out.
Ivey said he is proud of his contributions while serving on the Midtown board, which includes the completion of the Midtown Master Plan.
Ivey, who is a construction consultant, also is proud of a building that bears his name, the $1.2 million Ivey, Ferguson Reed Apartment complex on the corner of Magnolia and Lincoln, which he is part owner.
Ivey said he is currently working on another half million-dollar project that he will be talking more about in the future once details have been worked out.
“I’m giving back to my community and hopefully instilling hope in others. I want to see the community thrive,” said Ivey.
Ivey, who completed two consecutive terms on the Midtown board serving as its chair and vice chair, said he does not understand why it is an issue now.
“It should not have been an issue. It should have been brought up three years ago,” said Ivey.
“I have served honorably as chair and vice chair and will continue to do so as long as I am appointed. My goal is to bring economic stability and jobs to our community,” Ivey said.
Cerbone confirmed that Ivey’s term on the Midtown board has ended and that he is serving on the board until the city commission appoints someone to replace him.
“He has served two terms and is termed out. His term expired on Dec. 31, 2012,” said Cerbone.
Assistant City Manager Betty Goodman said this week in an interview that the city has three vacancies on the Midtown board.
Pat Heard and Margaret Symonette, who currently serve on the board, have turned in their applications to be reappointed to the board.
Goodman said incumbents are not guaranteed reappointment to the boards, depending upon the other residents who are interested in serving.
Appointments are made by city commissioners and the mayor.
Since the last appointments to the board, there are now two new commissioners and a new mayor.
Goodman said it is not unusual for members of the city’s advisory boards to serve until a replacement is chosen even though their terms have expired.
She hopes more people contact her to serve on the Midtown board and request information about vacancies on other boards.