PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) — Former Panama City Beach City Manager Tony O’Rourke filed a whistleblower letter with the city the week he was fired.
That letter has been held from public view while the city performed its own investigation into the issues O’Rourke raised in his letter. But, with the investigation now concluded two letters, one dated Feb. 10 and the other, dated Feb. 11 were released by the city Friday.
As we reported Wednesday when he filed a lawsuit against the city O’Rourke claims that he was cooperating with an FBI investigation into Popeye Park. He wrote that former City Manager Mario Gisbert spent $50,000 to improve the park in 2019 at the behest of former Mayor Mike Thomas.
O’Rourke also claims the park is private property. The city disputes the claims saying the cost of the improvements was $29,631 and that city employees did the work.
City officials say they believed the park belonged to the city and had been treated as a city park for decades.
Bay County Property Appraiser Dan Sowell told News 13 Thursday that the park actually does belong to the city.
O’Rourke also points out that the park is next to the home of Thomas’s son.
The city ordered an independent investigation into the matter, concluding that despite appearances, no laws were broken.