INDIAN ROCKS BEACH - Residents here are wondering what is the status of the lawsuit against the former city manager.
Statements and some events have clouded and obscured the subject because there are some residents who are very serious about retrieving money they feel was unwarrantedly paid to Al Grieshaber, the former city manager.
Andy Salzman, the city attorney, says the suit was actually filed April 12 but as of last weekend service had not been made on Grieshaber.
There is a fear among many IRB residents that members of the commission will fall into a mode of thinking that says, "We are tired of all this. Let's get rid of it. Let's move on. Settle it."
They do not want it settled. That, in their minds, would be an abrogation of the fiduciary duties of commission members.
The gravamen of the suit against Grieshaber is that he was paid money that he should not have been paid. The suit mentions some $15,000.
The thinking goes that members of the commission are guardians of public funds. This is their fiduciary duty. To let it be settled in some unjust reason for convenience or because someone is tired of it would be wrong.
Another aspect is that there is a suspicion, given events surrounding how the payment of $13,000-plus was made to Grieshaber, of what might have happened.
One leading figure in IRB - not an elected official - who prefers to be unidentified at this point says, "Are there people on the commission who believe that bringing legal action will be akin to lifting the lid from a sewer? The stigma that hangs over this commission, on this matter, will never be erased until this civil action is brought."
Salzman's chronology of the suit settles what had been some confusion.
When the city refused to pay Grieshaber some vacation pay that he claimed was due him, the former manager returned to a commission meeting January 23 (with a court reporter in tow) but made no progress on that claim.
That night the commission instructed Salzman to begin a process to recoup money paid to Grieshaber for "relocation expenses" ($13,000-plus) and other things that the commission decided should not have been paid.
Salzman sent a letter. That was not responded to.
Then the idea arose of having the State Attorney's Office initiate a criminal action. The SAO rejected that idea at mid-March and the way was supposedly cleared for the city's civil suit against Grieshaber.
Commissioners were startled to hear at the April 10 meeting that there had been "negotiations" with Grieshaber's lawyer. That was revealed by R. Todd Burbine who was sitting in for the absent
Grieshaber's lawyer, David J. Linesch, has sent two letters, the first on March 8 in which he threatens to sue the city if vacation pay of $4,653.60 is not paid to Grieshaber forthwith, in fact, by March 22.
Needless to say, no suit materialized.
So the mention of "negotiations" by Burbine on April 10 no doubt referred to Linesch's reference in a letter to Salzman dated April 12 in which he refers to discussions the two had on April 3.
The April 12 letter makes the offer that Grieshaber will resolve the matter over the vacation pay by accepting "50 cents on the dollar" or $2,326.80.
Then the situation was further muddied by part of an e-mail Mayor Bill Ockunzzi sent out April 26 in which he mentioned that "the commission needs to provide direction to the City Attorney" for responding to Grieshaber's lawyer to settle "a portion of the lawsuit regarding compensatory time."
Ockunzzi recommends that this proposal should be placed "on a future agenda at the earliest possible date."
This is exactly what those following the case don't want. It comes down to two words, they say - "no settlement."
However, Salzman says "the city is proceeding (with the lawsuit) and there have been no fruitful offers for settlement by his attorney."