INDIAN ROCKS BEACH - The city government of Indian Rocks Beach was broken and now it is fixed.
Voters took care of that at the March 13 election when they bounced Jim Palamara and Ed Piniero from the City Commission and put in their place Terry Hamilton-Wollin, a woman exerienced on the Planning and Zoning Board, and Bert Valery, a respected businessman.
The result came as a surprise initially, but on second thought, as one observer pointed out, "It made sense. Too much stuff had piled up."
That was a reference to the shenanigans of the recently departed city manager, Al Grieshaber; the ongoing persistence in making an issue of Whitehurst Avenue where there really was no issue; heavy handed tactics used by Mayor Bill Ockunzzi against a commissioner, Jose Coppen.
Folks finally got fed up with it, apparently.
The new commission members get sworn in next Tuesday, joining Coppen, Ockunzzi and R.B. Johnson.
But it is a new commission in more ways than just new faces.
The power of Ockunzzi has been broken. Palamara and Piniero faithfully voted with the mayor and that made for some bizarre circumstances.
Chief among them was the ignoring of what Grieshaber was doing. Since being appointed in February, 2006, Grieshaber spent a great deal of time seeking other jobs.
Other than this newspaper which consistently reported it, who was watching the store when Grieshaber was compiling 2,500 to 5,000 mile a MONTH (!) - month after month - on a city vehicle?
Even though drawn to the attention of the commission by Coppen and the reporting of the Gazette, the facts were ignored until they became so blatant and well known that the IRB powers could ignore it no longer.
Only Coppen asked for a probe into Grieshaber's activities? Other commission members defended Grieshaber or totally shut their eyes.
It was only when relentless newspaper stories forced the commission to face the truth and reality that something was done. It was unreported in the county's only daily newspaper and a local tabloid.
And the Grieshaber issues have not died.
Coppen raised several of them in an e-mail Tuesday to Andy Salzman, IRB's city attorney.
A suggestion to prosecute Grieshaber criminally through the State Attorney's Office was rejected and while Coppen bemoaned this, he urged Salzman to brief the commission on the steps to move along a civil legal action to recover some $15,000 IRB claims that Grieshaber should not have received.
Coppen pointed out in the e-mail this week that Salzman had agreed that there would be a conflict if Salzman were to remain the lawyer of record in any litigation and that the commission would pick another lawyer for this matter.
Coppen also said in the e-mail, "I have received new evidence that (Grieshaber) used our city vehicle for job interviews and that, at least once, he improperly charged a full day of work to Indian Rocks Beach while engaged in activities outside (IRB) related to his current job."