INDIAN ROCKS BEACH - Commissioner Jose Coppen has accused Mayor Bill Ockunzzi of possible violations of the city Charter and has called for in investigation of Ockunzzi's role in the Villa Rosa/Whitehurst matter.
Villa Rosa was a projected building of a condominium that would have impinged on Indian Rocks Beach land.
The issue was furthered by a spurious - intended or not - contention that there was confusion over the Indian Rocks Beach and Indian Shores boundary.
It was established on January 9 that there is no confusion over the boundary. Both cities' charters explicitly define the boundary and the definitions agree with each other.
Victor Wood, resident who was a candidate for mayor last March, has also peppered IRB city hall with requests for an investigation into very questionable city operations, including the Grieshaber mess.
Coppen sent his charges and demand for an investigation to Deanne O'Reilly, the city clerk, over the weekend.
An interesting question is what entity would investigate the matter? These things when referred to the State Attorney's Office seem to go nowhere (witness the Largo election violations of two years ago which were whitewashed).
Perhaps the Attorney General should send some investigators to Indian Rocks Beach and get to the bottom of what appears to have become a manure pile.
The investigation certainly couldn't be held within the city - the City Commission has taken no notice of the irregularities, Ockunzzi, the accused, has pals on the commission and the city attorney, Andy Salzman, certainly could not conduct any probe.
Coppen leveled these charges at Ockunzzi -
"The following actions of Mayor Ockunzzi could potentially result in serious Charter violations:
"1. Irresponsibly leveling accusations at me for non-existing violations;
"2. Meddling in city contracts without legal expertise or authority;
"3. Meeting with a lawyer and drafting a three-party agreement, which, if approved by the commission, would have resulted in a land loss to our city;
"4. Having discussions and meetings without knowledge or consent of the commission."
In his charges, Coppen wrote that "based on my educational background in business and 30 years management experience, I am qualified to propose measures to clear our backlog of pending legislative items, especially after the city manager (Al Grieshaber) left the city in turmoil with little progress accomplished during his time in office."
Coppen called allegations made by Ockunzzi that he, Coppen, had possibly violated the charter, "false and without merit in an attempt to try to intimidate me, intimidate staff and to have it as a mark against me on the public records. I want an investigation of each and every allegation that Mayor Ockunzzi leveled against me, and that they be made public."
Coppen said that Ockunzzi was "diverting our attention by taking potshots at my imaginary Charter violations while at the same time, he was engaging in questionable city charter violations, which could be impeachable."
He said, "I believe that Mayor Ockunzzi committed a very serious violation of the City Charter by participating in the drafting of the Whitehurst land grab proposal. This matter came in front of the City Commission on November 28. Ockunzzi stated that he had drafted a modified agreement for the developer's attorney that in fact, if approved by the other commissioners, would have given away half of our Whitehurst beach access with the erroneous premise that there was confusion about the location of the common boundary with Indian Shores."
Coppen went on to point out that "by playing lawyer, Mayor Ockunzzi not only stepped out of bounds; in the process, he promoted the erroneous concepts proposed by the developer."
The request to the city clerk by Coppen ends with this -
"I request an immediate investigation of Mayor Ockunzzi's participation in the Villa Rosa development of Whitehurst and herewith make a public records request of all documents, correspondence, emails, phone conversation records, etc. with the applicant attorney and all officials of Indian Shores.
Return to Home Page
Return to Current Edition