A look at government action from around the Gulf Coast.
FWB files complaint against city
VENICE — Gianluca Morello, a securities and antitrust lawyer with Tampa's Fowler White Boggs office, filed a complaint July 2 against the city of Venice as part of the ongoing battle over permitting for four new hangars sought by the Venice Jet Center at the municipal airport. The complaint calls for an official fact-finding investigation that could lead to litigation or other legal action against the city. Four members of the city council are named in the complaint, including Mayor Ed Martin.
The Jet Center is asking the Federal Aviation Administration to issue an order that could potentially deny the city millions of dollars in future federal airport grants and suspend current payments for six months or until the violations are corrected, whichever is later. The complaint charges five counts of violations of federal grant assurances in the terms of a 1947 quit claim deed agreed to by the city.
The city is also embroiled in a multi-million dollar sunshine law violation case settlement with ties to the airport issue.
New candidates for Legislature
FLORIDA — Sharon Merchant, a Republican small business owner and former state House member from West Palm Beach, announced she is seeking the Florida Senate District 27 seat. The seat is currently held by Sen. Dave Aronberg, D-Greenacres, who is running for state Attorney General.
District 27 runs across the state and includes part of Lee County. Merchant served in the House from 1992 to 2000. Merchant's company rents equipment to contractors. She will face Lizbeth Benacquisto, a Republican councilwoman from Wellington.
Pinellas County School Board Member Nina Hayden of Clearwater recently filed to run for the state Senate District 16 seat being vacated by Sen. Charlie Justice, D-St. Petersburg. Justice previously announced he is running for the U.S. House. Hayden, also a Democrat, has been a school board member for eight months. Republican Jack Latvala, a former Senate majority leader from Tampa, filed to run for the seat in April.
Former Pinellas School Board Member Mary Russell, a Democrat from Seminole, has announced a run for State House District 54 though she had not filed as of July 6. The seat is currently held by Rep. Jim Frishe, R-St. Petersburg, a real estate broker. The district includes the western side of the county, including the beach communities from Tierra Verde to Clearwater.
Permit extensions coming due
PASCO COUNTY — The County Commission adopted a resolution to implement Senate Bill 360 to provide for the required two-year extension of concurrency, MPUD zoning approvals, site plans, building permits, build-out dates and other Pasco County development orders.
The Southwest Florida Regional Planning Council meets July 16 at 9 a.m. at 1916 Victoria Ave., Fort Myers.
The county commission is scheduled to adopt its Strategic Plan July 14 in a meeting scheduled for 10 a.m. at the Historic Pasco County Courthouse in Dade City. The courthouse is located at 371918 Meridian Ave. The plan is the product of the Lean Efficient Accountable Pasco (LEAP) visioning effort.
As part of the Vision North Port effort, a Citizen Master Plan project team will host the Imagine North Port Community Design Charette July 16 to discuss a collaborative community vision. The event will be held at the South Biscayne Church, 13000 Tamiami Trail in North Port. A social mixer runs from 5-6 p.m. and the charette is from 6-9 p.m. Reservations are required due to limited seating. For more information or to register call (941) 426-3817 or go to www.visionnorthport.org.
The County Commission is holding a budget work session at the Pinellas County Courthouse July 14 at 9:30 a.m. in the 5th Floor Assembly Room. The Courthouse is located at 315 Court St. in Clearwater. For more information call (727) 464-3485.
The Pinellas County Economic Development Council meets July 16 at 8 a.m. at the EpiCenter, 13805 58th St. N., Clearwater. The meeting is in rooms 1-453 & 1-455. For more information call (727) 464-8123.
The proposed Florida Progress rate increase is the subject of the Florida Public Service Commission meeting July 16 from 6-9 p.m. The public meeting will be held in the Pinellas County Courthouse 5th Floor Assembly Room.
The public may comment on the proposed fiscal year 2009-10 budget July 15 at 6 p.m. in the Sarasota City Commission Chambers at 1565 First St.
The Citizens Budget Task Force will meet with county government leaders July 15 and 29 to review the county's proposed fiscal year 2010 budget. Meetings begin at 6 p.m. in the Think Tank on the third floor of the Sarasota County Administration Center, 1660 Ringling Blvd., Sarasota. The meetings are public and will also be aired live over Access Sarasota TV on Comcast channel 19 and Verizon channel 32 except for the July 15 meeting which residents can watch through a live Webcast on scgov.net. The live airing of the July 15 meeting conflicts with a scheduled Sarasota City Commission meeting. More sessions may be scheduled in August to review additional information or take care of final business before making their report to the county commission Sept. 8. For more information go to www.scgov.net/CFPO/BudgetGuide/BudgetTaskForce.asp.