Something is terribly wrong in Indian Rocks Beach.
Questions pile up about payments made to the just departed city manager, Al Grieshaber, (laid out in detail in a story elsewhere in this edition of the Clearwater Gazette).
Charges have been leveled against Mayor Bill Ockunzzi by Commissioner Jose Coppen (details elsewhere in this edition).
Many are wondering where Andy Salzman, the city attorney, was while events were unfolding.
Not only with l'affaire Grieshaber but with the phony boundary confusion with Indian Shores.
And with all the turmoil, sturm and drang, are any folks fleeing for the exits?
This is the way it works in this country - we elect our fellow citizens to run our governments and in doing so repose great trust in them.
When serious questions arise, our confidence is shaken, and answers must be given. Stonewalling, ignoring, speaking in riddles just won't do.
For example, consider one of the items listed in Grieshaber's ludicrous affidavit to get money - "Wal-Mart receipt for $51.94." It turns out on that one that only $28 could be considered legitimate; the rest was for food.
With all the shenanigans by Grieshaber, it appears that the finger of blame is attempting to be pointed at a city official who undoubtedly is blameless but has been intimidated. He has secured legal counsel.
Using a vehicle belonging to Indian Rocks Beach, Grieshaber submitted gasoline bills (obviously fill-ups) from such varied places as New Smyrna Beach (where he has an $875,000 house), Sanford (where he used to live), Vero Beach, Cocoa Beach, Durham, N.C. (!), St. George, S.C. (!).
Here are examples of mileage run up on the city vehicle by Grieshaber -
2005 - September, 3,650; October, 2,942; November, 3,660; December, 2,885 - other figures (all monthly) 3,035; 2,606; 3,651; 2,841; 3,869; 4,342. These alone add up to 33,841 miles, an average over those 10 months of 3,384 miles a month.
That's a heap driving, isn't it?
But then, it was known that Grieshaber was traveling all over mid-Central Florida seeking another job. We've been through all that.
One can't help but wonder in the face of all these facts, was there anyone watching the store? Was there anyone checking anything? Did anyone raise questions with superiors when these claims were turned in by Grieshaber?
One savvy character in IRB has a theory.
He offers - "Obviously, Al had a friend upstairs somewhere. My theory is that Ockunzzi wants to run the city and he had an acquiescing figure in Grieshaber. So not much attention was paid to what Grieshaber was doing."
Take the case of the "compensatory time." Grieshaber claimed hours on the order of what amounts to 13 weeks in comp time. When did he accumulate it? There are no hard records on that. Just ole Al's word.
Compensatory time was apparently used for all those jaunts from here to the East Coast in the IRB vehicle.
So there was no need to use any vacation time. Ideal situation for a busy man who needs to do a lot of traveling.
With his departure, Grieshaber was expecting well more than $4,000 for his vacation time. It was not paid.
That is what the meeting next Tuesday (January 23) is all about - to take up, as Salzman says, "unresolved matters."
The betting among some cognoscenti is that Grieshaber won't show up. (The big question, though, is how to get back from Grieshaber that $13,156.33 in taxpayer funds that is so so so questionable.)
In the meantime, these matters cannot be discussed, Salzman has reportedly said, because they come under some legal rubric or something.
That's exactly what his law partner, Alan Zimmet, pulled in Largo when accusations were made about a city official. The accusation was out there, but it couldn't be discussed, or defended.
If you like cruel jokes.
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