A Third Commissioner Adds to Criticism of Ockunzzi
by Leo Coughlin
INDIAN ROCKS BEACH - Another commissioner has unleashed a strong attack on Mayor-Commissioner Bill Ockunzzi.
Commissioner Jose Coppen, in a message widely distributed to addressees including the media, accused Ockunzzi of "making duplicitous statements to the press and to a number of our residents, proposing charter amendments on his specific pet projects."
Coppen's e-mail went out October 25 and made the accusation that a "series of political propaganda emails" were designed to ferment "discontent in order to tie down future commissions by 'design-drafted' charter amendments manufactured for stage effect."
Coppen, pointing out that the charter is the city's "constitution," said that "Charter amendments require detailed and careful analysis and should be debated at length by a Charter Review Committee and the Commission before (going) to the voters."
In the message, Coppen urged that meetings be televised. Bright House network gave the city a grant of $6,000 to begin its own city TV channel a few years ago but nothing has been done.
"Televised meetings would bring transparency and clarity to what goes on and show the residents who said what and who is double-talking," Coppen said. Neighboring Belleair Beach televises its City Council meetings.
During budget discussions, Coppen wanted a line-by-line examination of expenditures and he says that Ockunzzi prevented this. ". . . As the last to vote, (Ockunzzi) knew that after three favorable votes were cast, the budget would pass regardless of how he voted. His vote against the budget allowed him to argue that he was in favor of more budget cuts, again fence-straddling," Coppen said.
"This 'champion of the taxpayers' is the same commissioner in favor of spending more tax moneys on the Art Center over and above the $25,000 now budgeted, the same who voted for a full time librarian at a yearly cost of $60,000 and who never endorsed the public referendum I proposed to assert the willingness of the voters to commit to the expenses of a new or expanded library project; again, fence-straddling," Coppen said.
Coppen finished his salvo at Ockunzzi with these words -
"I trust that one fine day, hopefully the next election, the silent majority of voters, who know what is going on, will put a stop to the vengeful and disruptive behavior in our city."
Victor Wood, resident who unsuccessfully ran for mayor in 2006, endorsed Coppen's views by saying, "A great e-mail outlining the many problems of the commission. It clearly delineates the duplicitous nature of the mayor's actions."
Wood wrote in an e-mail, "A mayor working against the will of the commission is very divisive. This latest caper is a slap in the face of all other commissioners. When you couple this action with past actions - voting to add a new librarian at $60,000 a year (with benefits), voting against an RFP for the city attorney, supporting a new library, etc. it makes one wonder what else is on his 'hidden agenda.'"
Return to Home Page
Return to Current Edition