INDIAN ROCKS BEACH - If many residents of this Gulfside city long for the peaceful and placid days when Bob DiNicola was mayor, no wonder.
DiNicola is now in quiet and happy retirement with his wife,
Renie, but in the city he loves so much the cauldron of controversy is boiling rapidly.
In fact, controversy seems to have been the main ingredient on the IRB menu since Bill Ockunzzi became mayor.
In the latest development, Commissioner Jose Coppen is apparently seeking to replace the City Attorney, Andy Salzman.
At the City Commission's April 10 meeting, Coppen made a motion that language be constructed for a request for proposal from another law firm.
He was cut off by Ockunzzi from going into reasons for his dissatisfaction with Salzman, but later, in a report Coppen issues by e-mail to city residents, he gave a critique of Salzman's performance as the city's lawyer.
Salzman found Coppen's criticism unwarranted and defended himself in a detailed and sharply worded letter to Coppen that was distributed to city officials last week.
The latest development, adding fuel to an already churning situation, is an e-mail from Ockunzzi to a group of people who are ordinary citizens and not involved in the government.
One of the burrs under Ockunzzi's saddle, obviously, is that in the March 13 election his two faithful colleagues on the commission, Jim Palamara and Ed Piniero, were thrown out of office and replaced by Terry Hamilton-Wollin and Bert Valery.
With Palamara and Piniero in his camp, Ockunzzi could get what he wanted passed by the commission.
The people to whom Ockunzzi sent the e-mail Friday were these former elected officials in IRB -
Jim Driscoll, Jeremiah Carmody, Jean Scott, Palamara and Piniero.
The message to them was - "Your opinions, as former IRB elected officials, on the matters set forth below, would be of interest to me. If you know the e-mail addresses of former IRB elected officials who are not listed above, you may forward this e-mail to them on my behalf."
The "matters" that Ockunzzi was drawing the addressees attention to was the "critique" of Salzman by Coppen and the apparent attempt to begin a process that would dismiss Salzman.
One highly placed IRB official, not an addressee of the Ockunzzi e-mail, wondered "Why would the mayor send this to former elected officials? They are now regular citizens, no more no less. Why would he suggest they send this to others? Surely he realized this is sure to turn into a three-ring circus."
It would appear that Ockunzzi is trying to mount support for Salzman by bringing in former officials who worked with Salzman over the past 16 ½ years that Salzman has been the City Attorney.
But as many residents think of former more relaxed and quiet days, the "three-ring circus" allusion is the impression now being made. And Ockunzzi seems to be the ringmaster.