At the BCC meeting last night at the South Walton Courthouse Annex, Tourist Development Council Director Dawn Moliterno gave a 90-day notice of resignation.

Moliterno replied to an email from The Sun with "(I) had a great New Year and looking forward to making up for lost time with my family."

Below is the full content of the letter she read to the commissioners, as well as constituents gathered, at the meeting last night.  


Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, and Mr. Clerk,

Nearly 3 years ago this April I was approached by the County to become the Executive Director of our South Walton TDC. At that time this Board specifically cited the need for my leadership in stabilizing slumping bed tax revenues; completing the work that was in progress with Southwest Airlines and the new International Airport; developing standard operating procedures and guidelines for the TDC, specifically regarding financial and statutory compliance; and, of course, to lead an eager team. Little did we know just days after my hiring, a devastating oil spill would occur that greatly impacted our county.

Today, I can honestly say that I, with the help of a great team, have accomplished all that you asked me to do at the TDC, and much more. One of my weaknesses is that I do not enjoy, and am not very good at, talking about myself or my successes. But today it is necessary. My team at the TDC has exceeded everyone's expectations. We can all agree that the success of Southwest Airlines, and the addition of the new international airport, are critical to South Walton. I am honored and privileged to have been part of a team that worked on behalf of this region to see this critical issue through completion and the lasting impact it will have for years to come. Southwest is thriving, and not only didn't they need the St. Joe guarantee, they have continued to add flights to areas needed, such as Houston, and the seasonal St. Louis route. Serving on the Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport Board I have seen first-hand how the airport will serve as a gateway for tourists, residents, and economic development and is on a road for continued success.

As significant as those accomplishments are, what has occurred at our TDC is even more special... 20 consecutive months of increase in bed tax revenue, South Walton Beaches continuously being named as the best beaches by various sources, we have successfully executed all of our BP marketing grants with all dollars properly spent and accounted for, we have created numerous standard operating procedures, and maintained compliance with state statutes and county ordinances, we have been audited as part of the County and by BP for our grants, and no financial violations were found, we created a detailed monthly report, we produce an annual report, an annual written strategic plan with written quarterly updates, all posted on our public partner site.

We are measured not only on bed tax collection but on many other metrics such as online interactive analytics, fulfillment with visitor interactions through sales, meetings, and visitor services, and brand execution across all mediums. I could go on for some time but I hope this gives a high level picture of the many accomplishments you set out for us to achieve and we exceeded them.

So one might ask why all the negative public comments that recently seem to follow the TDC?

In many cases we forget there is a constant movement of information and people in and out of the market. So although some projects1comrnunication can be old news to us to someone else they are just hearing about it for the first time. This is truly an area we can improve on at the TDC. We must remember that we are always talking to someone for the first time even if we have communicated it many times over multiple mediums. But, unfortunately most of what you saw play out was political rhetoric, hidden agendas, and just plain old political divisiveness. I have watched the discussion about the TDC and transparency come up when in fact the TDC is more transparent today than in its history. There is nothing we haven't shared or made public, many I mentioned earlier.

This team won over 13 national, regional, an local awards for their efforts and no one even noted it. I believe in freedom of speech and the right to criticize and have opinions but I have remained quite far too long about the cruel untruthful lies and accusations that have been splattered across the blogs about me and my family. The nameless cowards that write humble false things NOT about my professional record or facts, just pure hateful gossip. I taught my kids to stand up to bullies and I am doing just that... I will no longer allow the defamation of character to continue.

To the cowards, look at my parents, kids, and family here today, they are real people and they represent the families behind all county employees and constitutional officers that get subjected to this unacceptable behavior because their loved one works in government. Just because we work for the county does not mean we are incompetent, stupid, or do the terrible things one states on a blog. Clearly we are all responsible for own actions not everyone around us. I have had every email, phone record, and document you can possibly pull other than a body part as a public record and none of them have resulted in any wrong doing, discrepancy, or misappropriations. I am not responsible for anyone else but myself.

For all of the successes of the TDC, it still appears to be a lightning rod for criticism. Criticism is not a bad thing, however, and can be used to improve the jobs each of us perform. But, when the criticism is merely political rhetoric, it is not the least bit constructive. I am not looking for praise because everything I have mentioned is the job of myself and my team. But when the TDC is constantly questioned, without reason, and for purely political purposes, I must at least remind everyone of the positives that have been accomplished. To be blunt, I and the team at the TDC have done everything directed, asked and expected of us by this board.

I believe when you have done everything you set out to do the time comes that you move on to the next chapter in life. Therefore, I am herby tendering 90 days notice of my resignation. This should you ample time to find my replacement, allow for a smooth transition, and ensure critical elements such as strategic planning and budget preparation don't fall during this time.

As you know I represent NWFL on the Visit Florida Board. I will work with the state and regional boards I sit on to address my resignation since in many cases the seats are not transferable and we will want to encourage them to select another Northwest Florida representative. I have a Visit Florida Board Meeting and a FADM0 Board Meeting at the end of this month and next month where I will cast critical votes before my departure and transition off those boards accordingly.

It has been an honor to serve with such a dynamic team. You truly should be proud of the people who work for this county. I have raised my kids in Walton County and will continue to do so. This is my home and I will remain here.

Again, thank you for the opportunity to serve Walton County.


Dawn Moliterno