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Business Observer Thursday, Mar. 18, 2010 12 years ago

Government Digest 3/19/10

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A look at governmental action from around the Gulf Coast.
by: Jay Brady Government Editor

GOVERNMENT DIGEST

Chairman wants Bean gone
HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY — County Administrator Pat Bean, County Attorney Renee Lee and internal performance auditor Jim Barnes have been asked to resign by County Commission Chairman Ken Hagan. And now Hagan, the District 5 commissioner, is the target of political opponents and Tampa City Councilwoman Linda Saul-Sena, who has suggested that Hagan give up the chairmanship.

The three employees were asked March 10 to resign by noon Tuesday, March 16 or Hagan would seek a vote of the commission the following day to terminate each of them. Barnes released a report March 4 alleging that someone from Bean's and Lee's offices was involved in searching for his and others emails. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating the emails. Chris Ingram, a political consultant and blogger, has also filed a Florida Bar Association complaint against Lee. The complaint alleges that Lee violated several of the bar's rules of professional conduct.

Firing Bean, a 30-year employee, will be expensive. In addition to being owed severance of one year's salary of $226,736 if fired for noncriminal actions, she will also receive accrued vacation time, plus 50% of accrued sick leave for a total of $448,846 in compensation. Replacing Bean presents another problem: a citizens group is collecting signatures to place an initiative on the November 2012 ballot that would replace the county administrator position with an elected county mayor.

Kuehn appointed to council
CAPE CORAL — Erick Kuehn has been appointed by the City Council to the District 5 seat vacated by Eric Grill, a contractor who was suspended by Gov. Charlie Crist last month after felony charges were filed against him. Grill has been charged with false statement pertaining to the whereabouts of a client's funds. Two former clients maintain that Grill took $65,000 for work he never performed. There are less than two years remaining for the term. Three years ago, Crist suspended Mickey Rosado who was accused of acting as a real estate agent without a license. Chris Berardi replaced Rosado.

Right to speak not guaranteed
TALLAHASSEE — Just because a government agency holds meetings open to the public, it doesn't mean citizens have a right to be heard. That's the recent ruling of Florida's 1st District Court of Appeals stemming from a Pensacola case in which the Escambia County Circuit Court also rejected activists' claim. The attorney for the plaintiff argued that Florida's sunshine laws should be given broad interpretation. But the three-judge panel wrote in its opinion: “Appellants have failed to point to any case construing the phrase 'open to the public' to grant the public the right to speak.”

'Slip and fall' bill to hit the floor

TALLAHASSEE — Aiming to lower the cost of doing business in Florida by leveling the legal playing field, the House criminal and civil justice policy council passed House Bill 689 relating to negligence lawsuits. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Gary Aubuchon (R-Cape Coral), passed by a 13-2 vote, and now goes to the House floor for consideration.¬†Known as the “slip and fall” bill, it primarily addresses whether a business knew that some condition existed on its property that could cause injury to its invitees. The bill requires a plaintiff to prove that a business had constructive knowledge of a “transitory foreign substance” in order to hold the business responsible for payment of damages. It also provides that constructive knowledge may be proven by circumstantial evidence. Florida is the only state that does not already have this requirement. An identical bill, Senate Bill 1224, is making its way through the Senate.

MEETINGS

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY
The Metropolitan Planning Organization policy committee meets at 9 a.m. Tuesday, March 23, in the Planning Commission board room at County Center, 18th floor, 601 E. Kennedy Blvd. For more information contact Linda Ferraro at [email protected] or at (813) 272-5940.

TAMPA BAY
The Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority, TBARTA, meets at 9:30 a.m. Friday, March 26, at the Florida Department of Transportation District 7 office, 11201 McKinley Drive, Tampa.

CITY OF TAMPA
The city council will hold a workshop meeting on regulations and procedures for transportation concurrency exception areas at 11 a.m. Thursday, March 25, at city hall, 315 E. Kennedy Blvd., Tampa.

PASCO COUNTY
The Tourist Development Council meets at 10 a.m. Wednesday, March 24, in the first floor board room at the West Pasco Government Center, 7530 Little Road.
The Land Development Code stakeholders committee meets at 4 p.m. at the Land O'Lakes Community Center, 5401 Land O'Lakes Blvd., Land O'Lakes.

SARASOTA COUNTY
The Sarasota/Bradenton Metropolitan Planning Organization meets at 9:30 a.m. Monday, March 22 at Sudakoff Center, 5700 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota.

CHARLOTTE COUNTY
The County Commission will hold a joint workshop meeting with the Charlotte Harbor community redevelopment agency advisory committee at 2 p.m. Tuesday, March 23, at the Administration Center, room 119, Port Charlotte. For more information, contact Marie Pecorella or Jo Ann VonderMuehll at (941) 743-1944.

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