Downtown Improvement Board Executive Director To Stay

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PANAMA CITY - Panama City's Downtown Improvement Board Executive Director will remain on the job. Board members got into an intense argument Wednesday over whether Dutch Sanger should be fired.

Panama City Commissioner John Kady, who used to be on the Downtown Improvement Board, suggested board members should get rid of Sanger. From there, sparks began to fly.

"So you're coming across and accusing me of stuff. If you've got something, then prove it," said Sanger, Executive Director of the DIB.

"I said the two things that were done. The commissions were taken that weren't supposed to be taken," said Panama City Commissioner John Kady.

"Nobody tried to hide anything," said Sanger.

Panama City's Downtown Improvement Board was far from quiet Wednesday afternoon. Board members heavily considered whether they should replace current Executive Director Sanger.

"It's sad when you have people saying bad things about us so they don't come downtown. We've been working so hard to build our trust and to build our faith and to build downtown," said Jane Lindsey, a member of the DIB.

Former Downtown Improvement Board member and Panama City Commissioner John Kady initiated the discussion after recommending members should fire Sanger.

Kady points out Sanger took a 10 percent commission on BP grant money that totaled roughly $12,000. He's also been scrutinized for holding a meeting that some say violated the sunshine law.

"If you don't understand that you're credibility is on the line, if you don't make the decision to deal with the issue now, the next time it happens and it will happen because it's happening for the last seven or eight years, you're going to be culpable," said Kady.

"I'm not defending him. However, he didn't steal any money. He didn't misappropriate any funds. I would have done the same thing," said Jim Hayden, Chairman of the DIB.

Sanger reiterated to board members he is fit for the job.

"Yeah I was thrown into the DIB director part. I did the best i could. I did not try to mislead anybody. I did the best that i could, but i know that i'm an event guy," said Sanger.

Two board members voted to fire Sanger, but four voted against it. Sanger will continue as executive director of the Downtown Improvement Board.

Sanger is also paying back the $12,000, deducting it from the $18,000 for comp time the DIB owes him.