INDIAN ROCKS BEACH - Steve Cottrell, who served as Town Manager in Belleair for eight years, has been appointed interim City Manager in Indian Rocks Beach effective Monday.
Cottrell takes over a position vacated by Al Grieshaber who left the city under a cloud in January and with a lawsuit scheduled to be filed against him to recover more than $15,000.
A move was made at the April 10 meeting to formulate a request for proposal from law firms to supplant the current City Attorney, Andy Salzman.
Commissioner Jose Coppen, cut off for reasons unknown by Mayor Bill Ockunzzi from developing his point, listed dissatisfactions with Salzman in his usual weekly e-mail report to constituents.
Among Coppen's criticisms of Salzman were that he failed to fully protect the interests of the city in a contract with Grieshaber, was non-responsive when Coppen advised him that Grieshaber was not a member of the city manager's association which the city Charter requires, allowed an improper and inadequate affidavit from Grieshaber in lieu of receipts for Grieshaber to collect money from the city, and failed to divulge to the commission that he was the director of a bank that was seeking to do business with the city.
Salzman again was not present at last week's meeting but when his substitute, a young and relatively inexperienced lawyer, responded to a question by a citizen, Victor Wood, about the Grieshaber lawsuit by saying that there had been "negotiations" with Grieshaber's lawyer, alarm bells went off among some commission members.
No negotiations in the Grieshaber matter have been authorized, but Grieshaber's lawyer, David J. Lenesch, sent an e-mail letter to Salzman last Thursday mentioning talks that the two had had on April 3.
Lenesch had threatened a lawsuit on behalf of Grieshaber against the city in a letter March 8.
Where Grieshaber had claimed that $4,653.60 was due him for unpaid vacation pay, Lenesch's letter of last Thursday offers that Grieshaber will settle for "50 cents on the dollar or $2,326.80" that apparently would settle all claims by both parties.
In fact, the last thing most members of the commission want is any kind of settlement that does not recompense the city fully for the money it claims Grieshaber took unwarrantedly. More than that, all the facts in the Grieshaber matter want to be known.
There appears to have been a lot of foot dragging in pursuit of IRB's interest in the matter. Two months have gone by since the deadline set by Salzman for Grieshaber to pay up or face legal action.
The commission was assured last week that the suit would be filed the next day, April 11.
Another possibly troublesome subject was raised with the Gulf Beach Art Center which is partially funded by the city. That is being looked into.
The Carmody-Piniero show continued at last week's meeting, with the two former commission members chiming in on every agenda subject. Jeremiah Carmody left the commission after some years of creditable and hard-working service; Ed Piniero was thrown out by the voters in March after a less than distinguished stint.
At least the two show good citizenship by showing up at commission meetings and participating at the citizen level in government.
And they provide a modicum of friendship for Mayor Bill Ockunzzi who must think wistfully of the support he got from his pals in the past.