Everything is sunny in the city of Sunrise again!

Colleagues of an embattled city official in the Florida community came to his defense Thursday, the day after Independence Day – a week after a dispute over a coupon nearly cost him his job.

“While I disagree with what has been stated and what was reported, I fully accept responsibility for the impact it’s had on the city and the discussion we are having,” an emotional city manager Richard Salamon said at a special city commission meeting convened to discuss his continued employment.

It all started when local business owners showed up to the regularly-scheduled meeting a week earlier, to publicly chastise Salamon for trying to use an expired coupon in their store, prompting his wife to post a negative review of their business on Facebook.

Dannie Augustin, owner of a “Nothing Bundt Cakes” franchise, said Salamon showed up one day last month with a coupon for a free $3.99 mini-Bundt cake – a day after the coupon expired. She refused to accept it. “I just don’t understand why you can’t accept it, why can’t you break a rule,” she told city commissioners that Salamon said.

Later, Augustin said she was shocked to find a “nasty” review that Salamon’s wife wrote on her store’s Facebook page, complaining about the “horrible management”. Salamon had intended to use the coupon before it expired, “but he couldn’t make it before they closed,” the review read. “He went by today and got there with minutes to spare, but the manager stated that she would not honor the coupon… He replied that the point of the coupon was to get people into the business. She did not care. We will never buy another cake from this location.”


Augustin complained to city officials, after which she said Salamon offered an “insincere” apology and questioned whether her business would make it. “There has to be some kind of corrective action,” she told commissioners.

Commissioner Mark Douglas’ proposal for “corrective action” was to fire Salamon. “He has lost my confidence,” he said. But after talking it over with the city manager, Douglas withdrew his call for Salamon’s ouster at Thursday’s meeting. Douglas said he had other problems with Salamon and the coupon issue was just “the straw that broke the camel’s back,” but that the two had agreed to work through their differences.

Commissioner Neil Kerch defended his colleague, saying there was “no mention that Mr. Salamon tried to use his position to get something for free, or have them change the rules. Had he went in and said, ‘Hi, I’m Richard Salamon and I want you to change the rules because I’m the city manager,’ the business owners would have told us.”

Two former commissioners even showed up at the meeting to speak on Salamon’s behalf – and express their surprise that the coupon dispute had even become an issue.

“I can’t even believe we’re all here tonight discussing this actually. It’s so ridiculous. It’s absolutely ridiculous,” Sheila Alu said to applause from meeting attendees. “Yes, maybe his wife shouldn’t have gone on Facebook because, as city officials, we’re held to a certain standard… But I did not see anyone saying that Richard demanded, threatened, said I’m going to close you down. He was trying to give them a little guidance from what I saw.“

Wait – a little “guidance”?

“As a small business person,” added fellow former commissioner Donald Rosen, “my thought process is, would you like to have someone leaving your business with a bad feeling, or would you like to come out and say, hey, the coupon’s no good, but let’s do something to make it right?”

Whether the coupon dispute was a fireable offense is one thing, but the former commissioners’ comments suggesting that the store should have taken Salamon’s “guidance” to heart and offered him a deal, risked turning the whole situation around and blaming the business for somehow doing something wrong in refusing the expired coupon.

Mayor Michael Ryan nearly suggested as much, in trying to downplay the dispute by pointing out that not all businesses are sticklers about enforcing the rules. “People try to use expired coupons,” he said. “If you go to Bed Bath & Beyond, in case you don’t know it, they’ll take anything.”

Ultimately, Ryan and several of his colleagues sought to absolve both Salamon and the Nothing Bundt Cakes owners by blaming the whole dustup on everyone’s favorite target – the media.

“This was a misunderstanding. And the media has turned this molehill into a mountain,” Kerch said.

“I was at Nothing Bundt Cakes today when the media arrived and wanted to get the owners on camera to comment on what this has become,” Ryan added. “They did not want to go on camera. They wanted no part of this… They were not going to take the bait from the media to make this a sensational story.”

Indeed, the story got plenty of media attention – it spread from the local paper, to national newspapers, TV network news and even some niche website that focuses on news about coupons. Whether the coverage was “sensational” depends on how exciting you consider a story about a city official, a coupon and a Bundt cake to be.

Salamon apologized for all the unwanted attention he brought to Sunrise. “I’ve invested more than 27 years of my life in this city, and I would never do anything to intentionally bring any disrespect or scrutiny to harm this city,” he said.

Ryan summed it up by referring to the impact the story has had on Sunrise’s newest Nothing Bundt Cakes franchise. “The day after this news story came out, after this meeting, they said they were flooded with city employees that came to show their support,” he said. “That’s pretty amazing.”

So for Nothing Bundt Cakes, it seems there may be no such thing as bad publicity. The city manager who’s now nationally known for arguing over a $3.99 Bundt cake coupon, certainly hopes so.

Image sources: Nothing Bundt Cakes / City of Sunrise, Florida


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