INDIAN ROCKS BEACH - A "new-look" City Commission held its first meeting Tuesday night in a meeting that was featured by a "sorehead" departure speech by one of the outgoing commissioners who was defeated at the polls March 13.
Ed Piniero, who was once mayor of Indian Rocks Beach, ran dead last in the voting earlier this month and finished with a long stem-winder of a speech Tuesday in which he blamed various and sundry enemies for the fact that he had been brought so low.
If nothing else, Piniero made new enemies among the 60 or so citizens who were present and heard him drone on.
On the bright side, Terry Hamilton-Wollin and Bert Valery, the new commissioners elected March 13 were sworn in.
Jim Palamara, also ousted March 13, gave brief thanks to the citizenry for his years of service and departed in gentlemanly style.
Hamilton-Wollin and Valery were surprise winners in the election in the view of some people, but the outcome was a welcome surprise in a city where many felt the government was broken.
There was much sniping and personal vendettas going on and citizens apparently got fed up with it.
The commission is back at square one with picking a city manager to succeed Al Grieshaber, who is the target of legal action by the city which is trying to recoup money that it claims Grieshaber obtained and was not entitled to.
There had been a pair of candidates for city manager whittled down from a much larger list, but one of them withdrew leaving a man named Gregory Wood.
He is not a member of the International City Managers Association (the IRB City Charter requires that the city manager be a member of that professional group) and is a retired military man.
The commission will advertise again for candidates and will get some professional manager help from a group called the "Range Riders," which is affiliated with the ICMA.
Valery and Hamilton-Wollin have promised to bring a higher level of discourse to the commission. They join Mayor Bill Ockunzzi, Vice Mayor R.B. Johnson and Commissioner Jose Coppen.
Johnson was re-appointed as vice mayor.
Members of the commission pledged to work together and avoid personal conflicts.
They will each bring a list of priorities that the city should address for discussion at the next commission meeting, April 3, next Tuesday.
Hamilton-Wollin has most recently served as chairperson of the Planning and Zoning Board and is on the board of Action 2000 a local civic group.
She has been a city resident for 12 years and has been in Florida her whole life, coming from a family that settled in the state in 1831.
She graduated from Plant High School and attended the University of Wisconsin.
She is married and has a son.
Valery has been around Indian Rocks Beach since 1980 and has been active in city affairs.
He graduated from Villanova, is married and has two grown children.