Mail That Caused Stir In IRB Was Initially Diverted
by Leo Coughlin
INDIAN ROCKS BEACH - It now turns out, the Gazette has learned, that the H-bomb of an e-mail sent out by Mayor Bill Ockunzzi on June 16 and presumably intended as a peremptory strike, was misaddressed so that its distribution to city officials would be delayed.
But some addressees of the e-mail shared the huge, 6,000-word missive with key city officials so it became known well before Ockunzzi apparently intended it to be.
What happens in the Indian Rocks Beach set-up is that when a public official sends out information by e-mail, for example, he or she includes the city clerk among the addressees.
The city clerk then distributes the material to other elected officials and city officials, in accordance with city policy of full sharing of information and aspects of the Sunshine Law.
Ockunzzi and others, in fact, made much of this kind of disclosure when Jose Coppen was elected to the commission in March, 2006, and continued his policy of sending out an informative e-mail to constituents.
Ockunzzi and company insisted that Coppen divulge all addressees of his e-mails and even got an attorney general's opinion to back up their contention.
But the monstrously huge e-mail that Ockunzzi sent out on the afternoon of June 16, a Saturday, was misaddressed to the city clerk and, consequently, she did not get it until much later when this was pointed out and corrected.
By then, several days had gone by, including a meeting day of the commission where, presumably, the huge e-mail might have come up as a subject of discussion had officials known about it.
Instead, the "peremptory strike" e-mail (seven pages long!) was addressed to some members of the media, some former elected officials, some selected IRB residents, but no current elected officials or other city officials.
And because of the mistaken address used for the city clerk elected officials did not get the e-mail in the normal course of things.
Once the full implications of the Ockunzzi June 16 e-mail were known, Coppen succinctly pointed out that "Failure to disclose communications regarding city business is a violation of the Public Records Law and the rules of the City Commission."
Coppen was not officially aware of Coppen's e-mail until, as he described it, late Friday afternoon, June 22, when he said he received a paper copy in the package of materials sent out by city hall.
Coppen said he had tried to get a copy of the seven-page e-mail. "I tried to get a copy, which I finally received four days late. I had made five public records requests to the city clerk which she passed on to Mayor Ockunzzi, as I understand it."
The reason that Ockunzzi's original transmission missed the city clerk is because, apparently, only the name "O'Reilly, Deanne" was entered in the addressee list on the paper copy.
An examination of the electronic e-mail shows O'Reilly copied in with an e-mail she does not use, is erroneous and has not been in use for a long period of time.
Coppen said, "The mayor routinely sends many things to the city clerk so it is either a great mystery or very obvious why this wrong e-mail was used."
Observers in IRB who draw conclusions think that Ockunzzi wanted to delay the reception of his gigantic e-mail to city officials. As it was, they did not receive official copies until after the June 19 commission meeting.
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