Group has signatures to force vote on town charter change
It's official. A grass roots organization has collected enough signatures on a petition to force an election to change this town's charter. Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections Deborah Clark verified 314 of the 341 signatures the petitioners turned in.
That's 12 more than the 302 signatures needed. The goal of the group is to change part of the charter that prohibits public employees from serving as mayor. The group wants to make it clear that public employees who work for Kenneth City cannot be mayor, but those who work for any other public entity can become mayor.
It's now up to the Kenneth City Town Council to set a date for the election.
The charter clause became an issue this year when officials moved to prevent Teresa Zemaitis from serving as mayor. Zemaitis, 40, is a public school teacher who defeated incumbent Muriel Whitman, 83, with a landslide 70.5 percent of the vote. Zemaitis says the clause is unconstitutional, but a judge disagreed. Zemaitis is appealing.
It is unclear whether a charter change can be made retroactive to allow Zemaitis to take her seat or if she will have to continue her appeal.
14 arrested on drug charges in sweep
Pinellas sheriff's narcotics and community policing detectives arrested 14 on charges of being street-level drug dealers during a Thursday sweep of Lealman.
Earlier in the day, narcotics detectives dismantled a grow operation and arrested Stephen Frey Weintraub Jr., 24, of 4286 1/2 37th St. N. Deputies charged him with cultivation of marijuana, possession of MDMA (Ecstasy) and possession of LSD. Deputies seized 47 marijuana plants, 2 pounds of harvested marijuana and other paraphernalia.
The drug-enforcement effort is the result of a two-month investigation into street-level drug dealing and other crimes in the Lealman community in Pinellas County, as well as an ongoing partnership involving Pinellas deputies with Lealman residents, community leaders and Neighborhood Watch groups.
Bill to drop water district advances
A bill that would let voters decide whether they want to eliminate an agency that oversees drainage in part of mid Pinellas has passed its first hurdle in the state Legislature.
The bill, sponsored by state Rep. Janet Long, D-Seminole, would sunset the Pinellas Park Water Management District if voters decided to do away with it. PPWMD was established about 30 years ago to solve drainage problems in parts of Pinellas Park, Kenneth City, St. Petersburg, the unincorporated Lealman area and some other unincorporated areas between Pinellas Park and Seminole.
The bill has to go through at least one more committee before going to the floor of the Legislature. If it passes in both those places, it would require Gov. Charlie Crist's final approval.
Anne Lindberg, Times Staff Writer