INDIAN ROCKS BEACH -- The companionship of the Indian Rocks Beach triumvirate appeared to become somewhat frayed at the City Commission meeting August 25.
Till recent days, Mayor Bill Ockunzzi and Commissioners Jim Palamara and Jeremiah Carmody have seemingly been the best of pals, agreeing for the most part on city issues.
But a week ago the trio was dueling with each other in a strife torn meeting that Ockunzzi, in his restrained and patient way, was trying to keep on track.
The real outburst came in the discussion of planning the city's future when Ockunzzi, presiding at the meeting, finally had enough of Palamara's interrupting and admonished him to "stop interrupting the chair or I'll adjourn the meeting. You'll speak when you're called on. You're going to apologize to this commission."
This chiding remonstrance was greeted with an outburst from a citizen in the audience, Ed Piniero, a former commissioner and mayor, who, addressing Ockunzzi, said, "You're out of order."
"You can leave the room," Ockunzzi replied to this.
"I am," said Piniero, who just as quickly added, "No, I'm staying."
This bit of near pandemonium, giving Groucho, Harpo and Chico a run for their entertainment money, came near the end of the meeting.
At issue was whether to spend $100,000 for a planning consultant to help with the future of Gulf Boulevard, chiefly, and the Narrows, or the Triangle, as it used to be known, that area of the city south of Walsingham.
Palamara, whose concern seems to be for rising taxes that are "hurting the little guy" does not like spending such money and says that expenditures lead to taxes and that middle income people are being forced out.
He said spending money for such consultants leads to nothing and, if anything, he advocates doing it in-house.
Ockunzzi managed to get things settled down, never demanded the promised apology to the commission from Palamara and the $100,000 expenditure was left in the budget under the rubric of "tentative for general planning."
Part of the reason Palamara was steaming was apparently because when Ockunzzi mentioned talks that had been held on Gulf Boulevard and what should be done, Palamara called it the "mayor's wish list. We haven't talked about this."
Ockunzzi disagreed and said that the subject had been discussed.
Earlier in the meeting, Palamara and Carmody were in full agreement on the subject of giving $60,000 to the YMCA. They didn't raise the question on giving public funds to a private organization.
Instead, it was the makeup of the Y's board of advisors who Carmody, in particular, was exercised about, citing that it contained people who "tear out the city's heart."
Several were non-residents, he said, and he had particularly harsh words for Pinellas Suncoast Fire Chief John Leahy and a local weekly tabloid newspaper, one of whose editors is on the YMCA board.
Palamara joined him in much of that saying, "if we are kicking in 60 thousand we need to have a board more friendly to us."
While Carmody faltered a little in giving taxpayers' money to the private Y, he had a greater sense of largesse for the Little League and wanted to give money to help disadvantaged kids, no matter where they lived, participate in the organized play.
The city will make $2,000 available for IRB kids in that program.
"Generosity," one observer said, "knows no bounds when politicians are giving away other people's money."
Return to Home Page
Return to Current Edition