CLEARWATER - Score another victory for Save The Bayfront. Recently the Florida Elections Commission considered complaints against the Clearwater political action committee, and found no probable cause to charge the organization, or it's officers, with any offense.
Mary Repper, a former political consultant for Mayor Brian Aungst and other local politicians, registered several complaints with the Elections Commission against Save The Bayfront, its treasurer and its chairman, Anne Garris. These included submitting a report without the chairman's signature, failing to report a $30 "in-kind" contribution and purchasing a flyer mail-out before having the money to pay for it in hand.
Mrs. Repper and Save The Bayfront have long been at odds. The political consultant was part of a team assembled by developers, George de Guardiola and David Frisbie in 2000, to convince the citizens of Clearwater to approve a one dollar a year, 99 year lease of the City's bluff overlooking Coachman Park, plus commitments to regular commercial entertainment in the Park. Save The Bayfront worked hard to help defeat this project and, this year, offered objections to another proposal for "the construction and operation of city-owned recreational facilities such as boat slips, docks, dock master office, amphitheater, and associated appurtenances such as city-owned parking facilities" on the City's downtown waterfront.
Repper filed the complaint following the defeat of that Clearwater Charter amendment in the March 2004 municipal election. She was reported by the Clearwater Times to have said, "I don't mind losing an election fair and square, but I will not sit idly by and be cheated out of an election." Asked to explain why she felt "cheated out of an election", Repper said, "I didn't say that. I felt like they cheated - they didn't play by the rules."
The Elections Commission met on November 18, to determine if there was probable cause to pursue any of the complaints filed by Mrs. Repper. The vote was seven to one against pursuing one of the complaints, and unanimous against pursuing the remainder according to Garris, who was present at the hearing.
"I am thankful to find how well the Election Commission rules work," says Mrs. Garris. "They are obviously written to prevent abuse of the system, not to punish ordinary citizens for participating in the political process."
"The City is already hoping to persuade the citizens of Clearwater to sell a portion of the last publicly owned waterfront property in Clearwater," added Mrs. Garris, "and we plan to continue to investigate and inform the voters what is really at stake. We hope to continue protecting this valuable piece of real estate until we finally get a City Council with the vision leaders of other cities have shown, a Council that will give Clearwater a beautiful waterfront park to be enjoyed by all the people, not put in private hands for the enjoyment of the wealthy few."
Return to Home Page
Return to Current Edition