It was announced suddenly Wednesday morning that St. Augustine's Public Works Director, Martha Graham is retiring from her position effective March 30, 2018. Some insiders with the city have speculated this may be connected to the issues raised by My 904 News that have to do with potential no bid city contracts to the City Manager's daughter's consulting firm.
Earlier reports on Wednesday indicated that the "retirement" came as a surprise to Graham's colleagues.
“Martha has been a tremendous asset to Team St. Augustine,” said John Regan, St. Augustine’s City Manager. “Her time here is marked by some of the largest public works projects in many years, ones that will serve our city for many, many years to come.”
Projects completed during her tenure as Public Works Director include the Riberia St. Rehabilitation project, the Downtown Improvement District project which included Charlotte, Spanish and Hypolita Sts., the Avenida Menendez Seawall project, the Davis Shores Tide Check Valve project, and the replacement of aging water systems throughout the city to eliminate the problem of red water.
Graham also oversaw the expansion of the city’s recycling program, increased sidewalk construction and street paving, and managed the response by Public Works to Hurricanes Matthew and Irma. She has also been instrumental in long range planning projects including the creation of the city’s Stormwater Master Plan and in the development of the city’s Five Year Capital Improvement Plan.
Many consider the timing more than coincidental considering she is apparently not close to retirement age and has been with the city since 2008.
The fact that a replacement has not been named adds to speculation by the public that this must have been a very recent decision.
This announcement comes on the heels of another abrupt resignation after scrutiny of his department, by St. Augustine Beach Commissioner Gary Snodgrass, who left his seat on the bench after a brief speech, and just before another issue was raised regarding rich orien's houses once again being out of code (fence).
St. Augustine Beach Building Official Gary Larson was also weaned out after immense scrutiny and public pressure regarding rich obrien's house, which was not built to specifications submitted to the city.
Whether we collectively pushed the issue or just added fuel to the fire, it is extremely clear that we, the people of St. Augustine and St. Johns County now have the ear of every local government agency.