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Surfside town manager, chief of police resign unexpectedly

 People stand in line to vote at Surfside Town Hall in 2020.
David Santiago
Miami Herald
People stand in line to vote at Surfside Town Hall in 2020.

Surfside commissioners had a surprise during a regularly scheduled meeting this week: They learned that the town manager, Andy Hyatt, resigned earlier that day. Others have now followed suit.

Surfside's former town manager didn’t give a reason for resigning in his letter to the commission on Dec. 13. Hyatt did ask for five months of severance pay and health insurance and money for unused vacation time.

"He can't just resign like this and leave our town dumped like this," said Commissioner Nelly Velasquez, who disagreed with the town paying him this money because Hyatt breached the terms of his contract.

"I don't understand what's going on here," she continued, before suggesting that "maybe people are not getting along with each other."

Mayor Shlomo Danzinger, though, and the rest of the commission, agreed to Hyatt’s request.

"He had some family issues he cited," Danzinger said. "With all he's done for the town and pulling this town through the Champlain Towers South, we felt it was only due to compensate him for that."

Before resigning, Hyatt submitted an update that the architect hired to design a condominium to replace the former Champlain Towers South will likely reveal the plan next month.

Since the meeting, the chief of police and the assistant town manager have also resigned. An email from the town listed Hyatt's resignation effective immediately.

"Public Works Director Hector Gomez has been appointed Acting Town Manager by the Town Commission," the email added. "This morning, Chief of Police Rogelio Torres and Assistant Town Manager Jason Greene also resigned effective Friday, Dec. 16.

"Surfside Police Captain John Healy has been named Acting Chief of Police. The Administration would like to thank Mr. Hyatt, Mr. Torres and Mr. Greene for their service and dedication to the Town. All departments continue Town business as usual."

Andy Hyatt's resignation letter.

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Verónica Zaragovia was born in Cali, Colombia, and grew up in South Florida. She’s been a lifelong WLRN listener and is proud to cover health care for the station. Verónica has a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master's degree in journalism. For many years, Veronica lived out of a suitcase (or two) in New York City, Tel Aviv, Hong Kong, Las Vegas, D.C., San Antonio and Austin, where she worked as the statehouse and health care reporter with NPR member station KUT.