BELLEAIR BLUFFS - County Commissioner Susan Latvala came under attack by Belleair Bluffs Mayor Chris Arbutine Monday night.
In giving his mayor’s report in which he relates to the City Commission his activities with other boards and groups in the county, Arbutine described Latvala’s behavior at the Mayors Council meeting October 5.
“Latvala has no respect for the mayors, the cities and what they want to do,” Arbutine said and then described how she greeted an idea from Mayor Rick Baker of St. Petersburg as “B.S., but she used the whole, real word,” Arbutine said.
“We pay her salary,” he said. “We literally do. If I had been Baker I would have brought her about five pegs down.”
Since gaining a seat on the County Commission Latvala has been frequently criticized for her attitude. While serving as chairperson last year, she often came across as though she was the ruler of the county, insulting the public at meetings, etc.
When the commission got to the subject of evaluating the city clerk and the director of public works, it was revealed that Commissioner Bob Russo had given Robert David, in charge of public works, a below average rating.
David insisted on a meeting with Russo to discuss his alleged inadequacies.
This opened the meeting to a discussion of setting up a procedure of employee evaluations. The conversation showed that all the commissioners were not on the same page on how to approach evaluation or just exactly what was being evaluated.
The evaluations discussion has been put off until at least next month’s work shop meeting.
To any casual observer, unfamiliar with the city, it would appear that there is a seven member commission.
John Tabor and Wally Witham, both of whom served on the commission long ago, have attained the status it would seem of “holy men.”
They freely engage, from the audience, in discussion along with the officially elected commissioners on various subjects as they come up. They have the luxury of helping make law and policy without the necessity of getting elected to office.
It was Tabor’s nit-picking at a meeting last month that brought John Hubbard, the city’s lawyer to Monday night’s meeting.
Tabor insisted that the city charter referred to hiring as the city lawyer an individual, not a firm.
Hubbard, appearing tanned and very fit despite some illness in the past several months, showed up to explain what everybody else already knew – that in having his firm, in which he is the dean, the city has the services of everyone in the firm and this redounds to the city’s benefit.
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