CLEARWATER – Although she has her own legal staff, City Attorney Pam Akin sometimes hires outside counsel to assist with litigation that would overwhelm her staff. On Aug. 16, Akin sought and received Clearwater City Council approval to retain three outside attorneys.
On April 17, 2007, attorney Jeffrey L. Hinds was hired to represent the city in the inverse condemnation case of Divaco, Inc. v. City of Clearwater. On Feb. 17, 2009, Hinds’ contract was extended so that he could represent the city in the cases of Szletcha and Kuniwsku doing business as Tropical Sky Ranch Motel v. City of Clearwater, and Rudman and Rudman doing business as Rivera Motel v. City of Clearwater.
The Divaco case was decided in favor of the city, but the Szletcha and Rudman cases are scheduled for trial the week of Aug. 27. On Aug. 16, the City Council authorized the expenditure of an additional $50,000 to have Hinds defend the city in those cases.
Individual firefighters and former firefighters have sued the city in federal court, claiming that the city incorrectly tabulated their overtime, and that under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, they are entitled to overtime pay at time-and-a-half. Specifically, the plaintiffs claim that the city improperly offset overtime hours with premium payments for idle holiday hours. They have requested a jury trial, and the city has set aside $50,000 to have attorney Tom Gonzalez of the law firm of Thompson, Sizemore, Gonzalez and Hearing defend it.
The city has retained attorney Bob Reid to act as its bond counsel in connection with the Operating and Use Agreement for the Capitol Theater, which is currently being negotiated with Ruth Eckerd Hall. Reid will be paid up to $20,000, at an hourly rate of $350.
Mayor touts dolphin to RNC officials
Clearwater mayors have long been known for never missing an opportunity to promote their city, and the current mayor, George Cretekos, recently upheld that tradition. While speaking with officials of the Republican National Convention, Cretekos, a retired aide to Republican Congressman C.W. Bill Young, managed to slip in a plug for the Clearwater Marine Aquarium and its prime attraction, Winter the tailless dolphin.
“In Tampa, it’s going to be mighty hot in August,” Cretekos told the Republicans. “In Clearwater, we have Winter 365 days a year.”
First Avenue North now Dimmitt Drive
Goodbye, First Avenue North; hello, Dimmitt Drive. The City Council approved that name change last week.
The 546-foot-long thoroughfare, which runs between U.S. 19 North and Chautauqua Avenue, is bordered on both sides by property owned by Lawrence Dimmitt III and LHD Properties, Ltd., owners of the Dimmitt Cadillac and Chevrolet automobile dealership, so Dimmitt wanted the name changed to reflect that fact. Pinellas County officials and the local postmaster of the United States Postal Service indicated that they have no objection to the name change, and the Clearwater City Council unanimously approved it on Aug. 16.