INDIAN ROCKS BEACH - Commissioner Ed Piniero seems to be intent on keeping the pot boiling and being constantly stirred as he peppered Andy Salzman, the city lawyer, with a battery of questions May 22.
Piniero posed the questions in an e-mail and peppered the queries with citations from the city Charter and Florida Statutes.
Keeping the city lawyer busy in this fashion could become expensive at standard lawyer rates because the city is charged for the hours required to answer the questions.
Those insiders aware of the internecine warfare being waged on the commission itself wonder if Piniero is trying to convert Salzman into his private lawyer.
A letter was written by Salzman to the Florida Attorney General in April raising on a question on procedures by the Pinellas County Appraiser's Office.
The answer Salzman received from the AG's Office was that the question raised was inappropriate in that it did not come within the purview of the Attorney General.
Salzman's query was this - "May the Property Appraiser of Pinellas County arbitrarily determine the amount of homestead allowed on a duplex; (and) What formula or documentation does the Property Appraiser need to use to make a determination as to the percentage of property which shall be homesteaded in a duplex?"
When the Clearwater Gazette learned of the letter it was not known what had prompted Salzman's query.
But at the May 23 meeting of the City Commission Piniero said that he had requested that the letter be written and Salzman said that City Manager Al Grieshaber had given him the go-ahead on doing so.
Some may question the idea of the city's lawyer making a legal inquiry for what may be the benefit an elected official's private interest.
For example, if an ordinary citizen showed up at City Hall and inquired about the procedures of the tax appraiser in reference to his or her property, they no doubt would be directed to the Property Appraiser's Office.
The city's lawyer is not supposed to function as a law center for private interests and Salzman is known as a highly ethical lawyer, but he is bound to perform legal duties for the city at the order of the majority of the commission and city manager.
In his May 22 e-mail to Salzman, Piniero's series of questions, that seem rather complicated, focus on Public Records laws, custodians of same, and cites a jumble of Florida Statues and Charter citations.
At the May 23 commission meeting Piniero said that the question raised in Salzman's letter to the AG affects many properties in Pinellas County.
Piniero apparently owns the type of property that fits the description raised in Salzman's letter to the AG.
Salzman explained, about that letter, that he did it because the city manager told him to.
There is speculation of what is behind Piniero's raising his complicated mish-mash of questions on the Public Records law.
Piniero is also regarded by many in Indian Rocks Beach, based on his public history as a former member of the commission and mayor and active citizen, as a man with a querulous nature.
Intriguingly, the last paragraph of his message to Salzman raises these questions - "Which city agency is responsible for the enforcement of Public Records policy, laws and rules when they are not complied with? And whom are complaints filed with for violation of Public Records Law?"
It appears that Piniero has other adventures in mind for the future.
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