Now it has come to this: The Indian Rocks Beach vendetta came down to a special City Commission meeting Monday that deserves only one description - "Get Jose."
With a city manager who has just walked away with more than $13,000, questionable actions on property at the city's border with Indian Shores, the dignity of the city of Indian Rocks Beach hit a new low this week.
In the midst of all the bizarre events in IRB that have become the order of the day in these times, the special meeting Monday seemed to have but one main purpose - target Commissioner Jose Coppen for criticism or something.
Strange in light of the fact that when Coppen wanted a special meeting to discuss the mess created by the now departed city manager, Al Grieshaber, there was no interest.
At that time, early in January, the mayor and commission members were in Grieshaber's corner. A radical 180 turnaround occurred at a January 23 meeting when, through the reporting of this newspaper, Grieshaber's activities were exposed.
But back to this week. Here's the agenda, as of the writing of this column -
"1. Discussion of Commissioner Jose Coppen's e-mails pertaining to the Whitehurst Avenue beach access issue.
"2. Discussion of Coppen's letter of January 24, 2007, to Attorney General Bill McCollum regarding Mayor William Ockunzzi's possible city Charter violations.
"3. Determine what action, if any, is needed to correct the inaccuracies and misrepresentations in the aforementioned documents.
"4. Disclosure of commission of Ethics Complaint No. 07-022 against Mayor William Ockunzzi by Commissioner Jose Coppen.
"5. Report by City Attorney Andrew J. Salzman on self executing nature of Code Chapter 2, Administration, Article VII, Claims Against the City, Division 2, Defense and Indemnification for Mayor Bill Ockunzzi.
"6. Disposition of an e-mail from Nancy W. Obarski reporting on the homestead exemption filings with the Florida Bureau of Condominiums by Jose and Mirtha Coppen for 4 Gulf Boulevard, Units 201, 202 and 203/204."
Does that sound personal? It does to me.
Consider now. Number 1 possibly could concern the City Commission. But Number 2 is up to the attorney general to answer; it is not a commission matter.
Number 3 pre-supposes facts that are not established and confers on the commission powers it does not have.
Let's discuss item Number 4.
Ethics complaints work this way - A person files a complaint with the Florida State Ethics Commission. It then becomes a confidential matter pending final disposition. However, the accused in the complaint can divulge the information.
Ipso facto, item Number 4 tells us that none other than Bill Ockunzzi himself brought this matter (again, not within the commission's jurisdiction) to public light and to the City Commission.
Number 5 merely authorizes, the way I read it, for Salzman, a member of the board of directors of Pioneer Bank, to defend Ockunzzi in the ethics complaint matter. And this raises serious questions.
Then we have Number 6 that in no way comes within 1,000 miles of the jurisdiction of the Indian Rocks Beach City Commission. Homestead claims and the like come under the jurisdiction of the Pinellas County Property Appaiser.
Whatever might be going on there is not - repeat not - the business of the Indian Rocks Beach City Commission and thus not in the jurisdiction of the commission.
But if the commission is going to examine such things as an exercise - apparently - in curiosity, meddling or vexation, it might look into the status of 2211 Gulf Boulevard.
There is a web site advertising that site as a bed and breakfast. That means, as I understand it, you can stay there for price for lodging and some sort of morning meal. That makes it a business. Right?
When you check the Property Appraiser's Office the site is listed as a single family dwelling and - get this - has a homestead exemption.
Hmmmmm. A business. A single family residence. Homestead exemption claimed. Same address 2211 Gulf Boulevard.
Property Appraiser Jim Smith take note -
The listed owner is Bill Ockunzzi.
Mayor Bill Ockunzzi.
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