INDIAN ROCKS BEACH - A study of documents - e-mails, letters, handwritten notes - begins to give a clue of what happened in the Grieshaber affair, in which the former city manager walked away from the city with more than $13,000.
Elected officials - with the exception of Commissioner Jose Coppen - ignored or dragged their feet with what was going on up until a special commission meeting January 23 when they reversed their views based on information reported by this newspaper.
So who was minding the store? As the Romans said - Quis custodiet custodem? Who will watch the watchman?
What was going on with Al Grieshaber, the city manager, was the payment of $13,156.33 for supposed relocation expenses, an inordinate amount of compensatory time (well more than 500 hours in only 10 months of employment), use of a city vehicle (in which anywhere from 2,000 to almost 5,000 miles a month, month after month, was run up in a city about two miles square), and possible lavish use of a city credit card.
As to the compensatory time, Grieshaber, in an appearance before the City Commission January 23, pointed out that his contract allowed that, as well as use of the city vehicle and a credit card.
He was right. Except that the privileges might have been abused which has led to the city instructing its lawyer and financial officer to possibly recoup some of the money.
The problem is that Grieshaber's contract, constructed presumably by Andy Salzman, the city's lawyer, had loopholes you could drive a Mack truck through.
No one seemed to notice, or if they did, didn't care that Grieshaber was constantly on the search for another job after he was permanently hired in IRB in February.
Even that hiring and the accompanying contract give rise to a slew of questions. Salzman, according to city records, vetted the hiring. The city Charter makes membership in the International City Managers Association a requirement for the job.
This was ignored. Asked later about it, Salzman merely shrugged it off.
Of course, the compensatory time was compiled so that Grieshaber could indulge in his traveling without dipping into vacation time. He submitted and was denied the well more than $4,000 he claimed in vacation time.
The employment agreement called for the lowest bid of three vendors who would relocate Grieshaber to this area to be submitted to the city for payment.
This was not followed. Instead, Grieshaber requested a check for $13,124.28 to Ace Relocation Systems of Orlando in March that was duly issued. But then, because the sale of a house in Sanford fell through, this was canceled.
Then, in August, Grieshaber got a check for $13,156.33 issued to him personally and signed by him, a procedure that is probably not illegal but certainly does not look right. Mayor Bill Ockunzzi and Vice Mayor R.B. Johnson are also authorized signers. He pocketed that money and now the city is seeing if it can get it or any part of it back.
What appears to be the authorization for that check, dated August 17, 2006, came from an e-mail sent from Grieshaber to Marty Schless, IRB finance officer, on August 15.
Salzman is copied in on that e-mail. The e-mail says -
"Marty - It looks like the house in Sanford has been sold and I'll be moving out. So, I will need my moving expense check in the amount of $13,124.28 and hopefully by Friday, August 18, 2006. I have checked with the City Attorney and he has authorized the check to be made payable to me with the understanding that I may have some income tax liability and that I will be responsible for all my moving expenses. Thanks, Al"
There is a handwritten notation from Schless that says, "Al is to provide a receipt for this transaction. He was told initially to provide document. Marty"
What is curious is the statement about tax liability when this was supposedly to be reimbursement.
Equally curious is that the check, finally issued on August 17, 2006, in the amount of $13,156.33 was done without any supporting evidence substantiating the amount.
That didn't come until November, when questions arose on this very matter and Salzman sent an e-mail to Grieshaber on November 15, 2006, which said, "Al, please provide the affidavit to Marty, thank you."
That is apparently what led to the undated affidavit from Grieshaber which meets no known legal requirement. It is unspecific as to documented costs, is vague, names no actual recipients of money paid out by him except for initials, is improperly notarized and is, on its face, ludicrous.
There more documents and angles - more than space here allows.
But the story does have an element of hilarity. Ockunzzi is proclaiming from the rooftops and from every street corner that he knew "nothing. Noooooothing!" about what was happening.
Puts one on mind of Shakespeare's the fellow "doth protests too much, methinks."
But for those who like to connect dots, Grieshaber's appointments calendar for that interesting week that he collected $13,156.33 shows a phone conversation with Salzman on August 15, a meeting that afternoon with Ockunzzi and the e-mail in which Grieshaber asserts that Salzman authorized the payment.
Is it possible that Grieshaber never told the very hands-on Ockunzzi that he had been authorized a large check by Salzman or that Salzman never bothered to tell Ockunzzi about it?
Possible, perhaps. But it doesn't seem likely.
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