West Melbourne councilwoman confronted over TV return

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WEST MELBOURNE, Fla. - Tempers flared at the West Melbourne City Council meeting Tuesday night when several council members confronted one of their own about her return of a TV to a department store under questionable circumstances, Local 6 news partner Florida Today reports.

"I was approached by one of my fellow city council members earlier this week and asked to clear my name to remove any cloud over the city," Councilwoman Stephany Eley said, opening the topic. "I asked the individual how I was supposed to do that. The individual didn't really have an answer."

So Eley brought in her attorney, Greg Eisenmenger, and the TV itself. By the end of the meeting, and after several heated conversations with fellow council members, Eley was voted off a countywide board and left the meeting early.

The dispute stems from an incident in early September, when Eley tried to return a broken television to the Target store in West Melbourne. A Melbourne Village store had earlier rejected the return; Eisenmenger said that was because they could not find a record of the transaction. Eisenmenger said Eley called Target and was told to return the television under her warranty to the store where she purchased the TV. Surveillance video shows her doing just that.

"Target did take it back apparently in violation of their own protocols," Eisenmenger said. "They should have referred Mrs. Eley at that time to the (third party warranty provider)."

Following the incident, Eisenmenger said he contacted Target corporate and customer service to find out what happened. Since Eley did not receive the refund, Eisenmenger demanded the TV back, which happened. Eisenmenger said Target agreed that Eley bought the TV and extended warranty but would not provide him a written response.

Over the weekend, Eley gave two documents – her credit card statement showing the original television purchase for $452, and a consumer report about issues with the same make of television – to City Manager Scott Morgan, who distributed them to the council. Councilman Bill Mettrick said the documents were not enough to clear his mind that nothing improper had occurred.

In another heated exchange, Councilwoman Barbara Smith asked Eley to provide a copy of the documents she was given at the West Melbourne Target in early September. Smith accused Eley of using the receipt from a more recent television purchase to try and return the broken TV.

When it came time to choose a council member to sit on the Space Coast Transportation Planning Organization board of directors, a post previously held by Eley, she spoke about her success getting funding for improvements to Ellis Road.

Eley asked the council to "not make this a vendetta against something you believe that has come out in the newspaper. I think it is unfortunate that you would seek to punish the city of West Melbourne. The Target incident has nothing to do with my ability to serve the city."

The council voted not to reinstate Eley in the post.

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