Any way you slice it, this situation ugly.
Ugly for the Palm Beach County School District. Ugly for school students and parents. But most of all, ugly for the residents and taxpayers of Greenacres.
The arrest of District I Councilwoman Lisa Rivera on grand theft charges on Monday has the sprawling suburb in a tizzy.
After calling Monday a “terrible day,” Councilwoman Paula Bousquet said: “I’ve had some concerns about some of the decisions (Rivera) made and why they were made… It was just a sad day.”
“The impact is the exposure to the city,” City Manager Andrea McCue said. “But there was no involvement by the city. We just want to make sure we continue with business as usual.”
It’s a little hard to believe that’s really possible given that we’ve yet to hear from Rivera since she was arrested on charges of stealing more than $23,000 between 2013 and 2015 while she was treasurer at Boca Raton High School.
Her arrest on the charges, which also included official misconduct and organized scheme to defraud — all felonies — was the second in a week of a county schools treasurer. That alone helped draw attention to the incident.
But Rivera is also a twice-elected public official who last ran unopposed. As the first elected Latina, she also ran as a change agent against the city’s “old political guard,” led by former Mayor Sam Ferreri.
No surprise then that Ferreri was not especially kind in his comments about Rivera’s arrest. He called his old nemesis’ high-profile arrest a “sad day” for Greenacres. “It’s a disgrace to the people she represents,” Ferreri said. “It’s an embarrassment to the city.”
That was before Gov. Rick Scott late Wednesday suspended Rivera in lieu of the charges against her.
That left the city council with either having to find a temporary replacement. But they are in familiar territory.
The city appointed Anderson Thelusme to fill out the remaining year of former Councilman Jonathan Pearce’s District IV seat when Pearce ran for mayor earlier this year.
Officials said the city will now advertise Rivera’s seat, and begin accepting resumes and letters of interest ahead of the July 17 council meeting where they will conduct interviews.
But this also raises the inevitable question — among others — of whether Rivera should resign her seat while fighting these charges.
Curiously, she has yet to make a statement to the media or to her constituents, if for no other reason than to put the latter’s minds at ease.
Other than her denial of the allegations against her last October, Rivera and her husband — a Palm Beach County Sheriff’s deputy — have been mum about the charges or her plans.
But, as they say, nature abhors a vacuum. Not making a statement only invites insinuations and rumors when the residents of Greenacres deserve facts and ultimately truth.
That first has to come from Rivera. If there was ever a time for that brash, no-nonsense style to take center stage it is now.
The people who voted for her, and supported her are waiting.
What do you think Rivera’s next move should be?