A witness cited in the report told police that Greenwell and her boyfriend “were verbally loud and unhappy” with Souto, “but at no point made any sort of threat” toward the commissioner or his staff.
Gonzalez, Souto’s aide, does not appear in the report, which lists the incident as a “verbal dispute.”
But two days later, Souto wrote Gonzalez a letter informing her that she was being suspended without pay as a result of the incident. Souto wrote that Gonzalez, 61, witnessed “the disrespectful manner” in which a constituent addressed him.
“When I stated that you were a witness to her behavior towards me, you stated that you had heard nothing despite the fact that you were present during the conversation and were less than 5 feet away from me,” he wrote.
“Your conduct in refusing to acknowledge that you were a witness to the conversation was disrespectful to me and was untruthful. In doing so, you engaged in conduct unbecoming a County employee and conduct that was offensive to me as your supervisor.”
Three days later, Souto terminated Gonzalez’s employment. She declined to comment through her attorney, Michael A. Gonzalez.
News of the firing spread quickly among County Hall staffers and insiders, who expressed disbelief that a nearly 23-year employee — Gonzalez had previously worked for Commissioner Mary Collins — would be let go over perceived disloyalty.
But the story didn’t end there.
Gonzalez sought the legal advice of her son, an attorney. A month later, she and the county attorney’s office signed a legal settlement reinstating Gonzalez. She will be “on loan” from Souto’s office to work at the West Kendall Regional Library. Her base pay of about $88,000 will remain the same, she will receive back pay since the date Souto fired her, and she will be eligible for her longevity bonus this year.
In return, Gonzalez will voluntarily resign as of April 30, 2013. And she agreed not to sue the county over the temporary termination.