Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

New rules silence frequent critic of Port Richey City Council

PORT RICHEY — Port Richey's most consistent critic was silenced Tuesday night by a little-known portion of the city's charter.

Before former city computer specialist Kevin Hamm could address the City Council as he had done week after week, Mayor Richard Rober announced he would be strictly adhering to the charter that says anyone addressing the council must be a city resident or a party to an issue on the agenda.

Hamm, 47, lives outside the city. Since being fired last year, he has taken three minutes each meeting to decry the city's handling of various issues from city purchases to the handling of his public record requests.

Rober informed Hamm before Tuesday's meeting he could not speak to the council due to the new rules, but Hamm stayed for the meeting and vowed to continue challenging city policies.

"There are other ways to get information out to the public," Hamm told Rober.

"Good luck with that, sir," Rober said, walking away.

After the meeting, Rober said in recent days he has been inundated with complaints about the public speaking portion of meetings. Rober has long allowed anyone to speak for three minutes at council meetings prior to the regular agenda, but the outcry has caused him to change the policy.

"When enough people come to me, I need to take notice," Rober said.

Rober said Hamm's scrutiny of a recent fireworks show upset many people in the city who enjoyed the show.

Hamm's latest address to the council came on July 26 when he announced he had filed an ethics complaint with the state against Vice Mayor Bill Colombo stemming from a Waterfront Park July Fourth fireworks show paid for by the city.

Colombo and former council member Bill Bennett own B&B of Port Richey, a fireworks company that put on the show. The city issued a $5,000 check to a local non-profit, Celebrate Port Richey, which then gave the money to B&B.

Hamm stated in his complaint Colombo should have revealed his involvement in B&B during discussions of the fireworks show, and he also found B&B did not have a city occupational license at the time of the display.

Bennett and Colombo both said they spent all the money on the show, and Colombo said he would have recused himself from any vote on funding the fireworks show. There was no vote as interim City Manager Dave Brown, who is also the police chief, gave Celebrate Port Richey the funds.

Hamm also filed an ethics complaint against Brown for his handling of the fireworks funding, but the chief has not commented on it. Brown did not attend the council meeting Tuesday because he was sick, according to city finance director Pam Zeigler.

Did the mayor enact the new policy to prevent Hamm speaking during meetings?

"No," he said. "This is going to affect a lot of people, including Mr. Hamm, who are used to talking to us."

Hamm, who had planned to again discuss the fireworks display at Tuesday's meeting, sees it another way: a direct attempt to "quash" his First Amendment rights.

"It's amazing,'' he said. "For as long as I can remember, citizens have been able to speak to the council about their concerns — until you say something they don't like."

New rules silence frequent critic of Port Richey City Council 08/10/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 10, 2011 6:34pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Lightning edges Red Wings on road

    Lightning Strikes

    DETROIT — The digs were different, the Lightning seeing the masterfully-done new Little Caesar's Arena for the first time.

    Lightning center/Red Wings’ killer Tyler Johnson gets past defenseman Trevor Daley on his way to the first goal of the game.
  2. Armwood pulls away to defeat Plant 27-7, remain undefeated

    Footballpreps

    SEFFNER — First-year Armwood coach Evan Davis pulled out all the stops to get his team psyched for Monday's annual grudge match against Plant.

    Armwood defensive end Malcolm Lamar (97) gets fired up before the start of the game between Plant High School Panthers and the Armwood High School Hawks in Suffer, Fla. on Monday, Oct. 16, 2017.
  3. Clearwater police: Car thief dead after owner fires gun

    Crime

    CLEARWATER — One man is dead after the owner of a car fired shots at the thieves who were stealing it Monday night, police said.

  4. Iraqi forces sweep into Kirkuk, checking Kurdish independence drive

    World

    KIRKUK, Iraq — After weeks of threats and posturing, the Iraqi government began a military assault Monday to curb the independence drive by the nation's Kurdish minority, wresting oil fields and a contested city from separatists pushing to break away from Iraq.

    Iraqi security forces patrol Monday in Tuz Khormato, about 45 miles south of Kirkuk, a disputed city that the government seized in response to last month’s Kurdish vote for independence.
  5. Trump and McConnell strive for unity amid rising tensions

    National

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump and Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, tried to convey a sense of harmony Monday after months of private feuding that threatened to undermine their party's legislative push in the coming weeks to enact a sweeping tax cut.

    President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell field questions Monday in the Rose Garden of the White House. “We have been friends for a long time,” Trump said.