Judge rejects rail opponents’ call for Pinellas commissioners to stand down
A judge dismissed a lawsuit on Wednesday that sought to stop four Pinellas County Commissioners from voting on future issues that will come before the board.
The judge, John Schaefer of the Pinellas Pasco Circuit Court, rejected arguments from a group of seven plaintiffs, who filed a lawsuit claiming that the commissioners had violated term limits, were serving illegally, and should be barred from voting. The four commissioners named in the suit are Karen Seel, Ken Welch, Susan Latvala, and John Morroni.
Brought by a group of light rail opponents, the lawsuit was filed days before the County Commission tentatively approved putting a sales tax increase to pay for rail and expanded bus service on the 2014 ballot.
The group also asked for an injunction to prevent the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority from spending public money on an educational campaign for the referendum. Rail opponents say the campaign, called Greenlight Pinellas, is biased in favor of light rail.
Schaefer said he would rule on this request, and the county’s petition to dismiss the suit, by the end of the month.