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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Pinellas Commissioners tied up in court can keep voting, judge rules

The four Pinellas County Commissioners named in a lawsuit over term limits can continue to vote, make decisions, and spend taxpayer money — so says a ruling handed down last week.

Pinellas Pasco Circuit Court Judge John Schaefer granted county lawyers' request to dismiss a lawsuit filed by seven plaintiffs, including vocal light rail opponent Barbara Haselden. The suit was an attempt to bar four commissioners — Ken Welch, Karen Seel, Susan Latvala, and John Morroni — from taking positions on issues while a suit challenging their right to remain in office makes its way through the courts.

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, which rail opponents have said is biased in favor of light rail.

"This issue was clearly not the focus of Plaintiffs'; complaint, nor mentioned in their request for relief," Schaefer wrote in his ruling. If the plaintiffs wanted to take issue with PSTA spending, he wrote, they should have named the agency in their suit.

[Last modified: Wednesday, May 8, 2013 9:59am]

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