INDIAN ROCKS BEACH - There now seems to be a question among observers of how serious Indian Rocks Beach is in recovering money from a former city manager that the city contends was wrongfully taken.
A move to have the State Attorney possibly bring criminal charges against Al Grieshaber, who left under a cloud as city manager in January, fizzled as the SA typically avoided any legal actions involving city governments.
But a civil action to recover more than $15,000 is still alive, although it has not been filed yet. Grieshaber was threatened with the prospect of suit by a letter from IRB's City Attorney in early February.
But in pursuit of some of what the City Commission feels are abuses by Grieshaber, the commission voted to earmark only $500 for an investigator to look into Grieshaber's use of a city vehicle.
That trifling sum will not pay for much investigation and there is a feeling among some that there are parties who want the whole Grieshaber affair squelched.
Records show that Grieshaber put anywhere from 2,500 to 5,000 miles a month on the vehicle. It was well known that he was traveling all over central Florida seeking another job, within days of being officially hired by Indian Rocks Beach.
Grieshaber seems to have posted exorbitant gas bills and compiled hundreds of hours of "comp time."
He was able to do so because the use of that was completely at his own discretion under the absurdly lenient contract that exposed the city to abuse.
Grieshaber left three months ago but little has been done to recoup city losses. The vehicle and gasoline charges are gone forever, because the contract allowed him to do whatever he liked. The city had no protection and there was no safeguarding of taxpayers' money in the contract.
Even the demand letter to Grieshaber from the City Attorney moved at glacial speed. Instructed to prepare and send the simple, three paragraph letter on January 23, it wasn't until February 7, 15 days later, that the letter went out.
In addition to that, the letter was sent to a New Smyrna Beach address when it was known that Grieshaber was available and was working at a site in the Sebring area.
It will be interesting if the case ever gets to court to see if some of the mystery questions surrounding Grieshaber's activities are answered.
He claims that the City Attorney gave permission for him to be paid more than $13,000. In fact, he sent an e-mail to the city's finance director to that effect and copied in the City Attorney with the permission statement.
The City Attorney denies ever giving such permission and also claims he never saw the e-mail.
Apparently adopting the idea that the best defense is a good offense, Grieshaber's lawyer sent a letter dated March 8 to Andy Salzman, IRB's lawyer, asserting that "Our investigation reveals an exceptionally clear-cut case of breach of contract, as well as a violation of the Florida Wage Payment Act."
The letter also makes a claim for another $4,653.60 due Grieshaber and says if the amount is not remitted by March 22, "Failure to do so will obviously result in our having to file suit . . ."
One result that those close to the situation - officials and residents - don't want is that there is an out of court settlement. There is a feeling that some wrongdoing took place and they want it exposed.