top of page

Score sheets raise questions about legitimacy, fairness of Seat 3 nominating process 

Taylor: Commissioners appeared prepared to pick Ramos before applicant work session began; collusion possible.

Score sheet
Comm. Joseph McMullen gave 5s to Sal Ramos and Yumeko Motley for educational background even though Motley has a law degree and Ramos attended high school. That has fueled speculation that McMullen tipped the nomination scales for Ramos.

When it came to filling out his scoring sheet for those being considered for Oakland town commission Seat 3, Commissioner Joseph McMullen was a generous scorer. Using a 1-to-5 scale, during the April 9 public work session, McMullen doled out a total of 39 5s across the categories of professional experience, educational background, community involvement, volunteer engagement and, after applicants answered a random question, public speaking. 

It's the scores McMullen assigned in the educational background category that have raised questions about the legitimacy and fairness of the nominating process.

McMullen gave all 12 candidates a 5 for educational background. That includes Sal Ramos, his top pick for the seat, and Yumeko Motley, his number two selection, as indicated on his score sheet obtained through a public records request. 

Motley has a juris doctorate, or law degree, from Florida A&M University College of Law. Ramos, according to his resume, attended A.P. Leto High School in Tampa.

Given that education level is an objective standard, a 5 for law school and a 5 for high school has led to speculation that McMullen tipped the scales for Ramos.

“Anyone would say this person has more education than this other person,” Mayor Shane Taylor said in a recent phone interview. “It doesn’t necessarily mean you’re smarter or you have more common sense. It just means that when you look at this criteria, [someone] has more.”

Taylor, who developed the scoring sheets, explained how he applied the 1-to-5 scale for education: “If you have a high-school diploma, you get a 2. If you have an AA, you get a 3. If you have a Bachelor’s degree, you get a 4. If you have anything more than that — a masters or a jurist doctorate, you get a 5.” 

Taylor awarded three 5s total — only in the educational background category and only to those with graduate level degrees: Scott Gordon and Adam Messervey, who both have masters, and Motley, his choice for commissioner.

McMullen did not respond to emailed questions about how he determined that both Motley and Ramos’ educational backgrounds merited 5s. 

Commissioner Joseph McMullen leaves Oakland Presbyterian Church after voting on March 19, 2024. He has not explained how a law school graduate and a high school graduate both rated 5s for educational background on his scoring sheet.

Complicating matters, Vice Mayor Satterfield and Commissioner Rick Polland did not “complete or turn in” their own scoring sheets following the work session, according to Town Clerk and Assistant Town Manager Elise Hui. 

Hui told VoxPopuli in response to an April 9 public records request that the scoring sheets were only intended to be used as “guidelines.” But the absence of these two sheets from the public record has contributed to community doubt about the integrity of the nomination process, which ended with nine-year commission veteran Ramos, back in his old commission seat

Residents were so furious, they launched a recall campaign for McMullen and Polland.

The April 9 public work session ahead of the regular commission meeting was convened to identify, nominate and then confirm a Seat 3 commissioner from the pool of 11 applicants before the 30-day deadline for filling the seat expired. If the deadline passed, it would be up to Gov. Ron DeSantis to make the appointment according to the town charter. 

Seat 3 was open because Ramos resigned it to mount his failed bid for mayor, and no one stepped up during the election qualifying process to campaign for it. Residents have complained on social media that they were unaware the seat was open for election. (Notice was posted November 13, 2023.) 

Newly elected Mayor Taylor opened up the normally insular nominating process among commissioners to town residents who had lived in Oakland for at least one year. The move drew 13 applicants (one withdrew and one did don’t meet the 12-month residency requirement.)

For the workshop, each commissioner received a scoring sheet along with a packet containing the resumes of all the residents who had applied to be considered for Seat 3.

Taylor told VoxPopuli that he wanted to be able to say We looked at this objectively, and this person here is probably the best person to fill the spot. 

“That’s how it should work,” he said. “You’re supposed to have an unbiased opinion.” 

But the manner in which McMullen, Polland and Satterfield leapt to nominate Ramos after the last applicant spoke — without any discussion of the merits of any other applicants — has fueled suspicion in the community that they came to the workshop with their minds made up.  

Asked if he believed his fellow commissioners were prepared to pick Ramos Taylor said, “As quick as that nomination was, I would — if I was a person sitting out in the audience — I would say yes.”

“If they wanted to do it their way, it was a waste of these people’s time, and that’s what irritates me the most, it really does,” said Taylor who added the commissioners should be embarrassed by their actions. 

“These people took the time to try to be involved and try to do something and make a change," he continued. "If these guys didn’t want to do that, they should have spoken up at the beginning and said they wanted to do the nominating thing and give a list of names. That way you didn't have to waste anybody's time.” 

Taylor said he “doesn’t know” if the three actively coordinated the Ramos nomination, but he said he was concerned about the possibility of collusion among the commissioners.  

He also said he was concerned about now having four commissioners who’d been aligned against his mayoral candidacy on the commission to stymie the change he was elected to enact. [As VoxPopuli previously reported, Satterfield allegedly called Taylor to ask him to take Seat 3 while Ramos became mayor.]

“They say We got your back, we’re going to work with you, we’re going to help out, we’re going to make the town better,” Taylor said. “Let’s see if they walk the walk. Let’s see if they don’t try to tread all over me.”

Satterfield and Polland
Vice Mayor Mike Satterfield and Commissioner Rick Polland at Austin Arthur's campaign rally in Ocoee on Feb. 6, 2024. They deny working together to re-appoint Sal Ramos to his former seat. Photo: Andrea Charur/VoxPopuli

Satterfield told VoxPopuli in an email that he “walked into last Tuesday [sic] workshop/meeting with an open mind” and that he had “no previous communication with the other commissioners before Sal Ramos was re-appointed to discuss it.”

Polland denied working with Satterfield to reinstall Ramos on the commission, telling VoxPopuli in a brief interview, “I’m not working with anybody. I’m working with myself.”  

Neither Polland nor Satterfield responded to emailed questions about why they did not complete or turn in their scoring sheets. Nor did they respond to questions about whether they disagreed with making the application process public, and if so, why they didn't say anything as the decision was being made.


bottom of page