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Plantamura's partisan e-mail raises hackles in Seminole

SEMINOLE — An e-mail that council member Patricia Plantamura sent to some area Democrats that criticizes fellow council members and the mayor, and raises questions about the legality of the city manager's contract, has sparked harsh rebuttals from Seminole officials.

Council member Dan Hester, whom Plantamura named in her e-mail, in a written statement called her comments "pathetic and desperate" and he found her motives to be "deceitful."

City Manager Frank Edmunds, whose contract and salary Plantamura has repeatedly questioned, said, "Mrs. Plantamura has had continued differences with my employment contract that was fully discussed during the budget process for the current fiscal year. It appears she continues to have questions concerning the contents of the contract."

Plantamura pointed out in the e-mail that the city charter says the city manager is appointed for "an indefinite term," but the contract with Edmunds has a definite term. That, she said, made her wonder whether a contract with a city manager would be legal.

Hester and Edmunds questioned the propriety of Plantamura's urging that more Democrats should run for the nonpartisan City Council. The Seminole city charter bans partisan races. State law generally prohibits partisan politics in nonpartisan elections.

Edmunds said, "Mrs. Plantamura's comments as contained in her e-mail are contrary to the language, as well as the spirit, contained in the city charter as regards nonpartisan elections … and may very well be contrary to the state local elections requirements."

But Plantamura, who could not be reached Tuesday for comment, wrote in the March 5 e-mail — titled "Seminole election ideas from Plantamura" — that all seven candidates running in Tuesday's council election were Republicans.

"So, why are the Repubs in charge?" Plantamura asked. "In Seminole, it's because Dems are not running. Capiche? My challenge: Who will we run next year?"

Hester wrote, "Plantamura has made a big mistake. … If in fact Ms. Plantamura sent an e-mail to only those city residents who are registered Democrats, then she has violated her duty and oath of office to represent all residents of our city. Elected officials serving in municipalities like Seminole can not and certainly should not get involved in partisan views."

He added: "Ms. Plantamura was elected to serve all residents and not just the ones who may share her views. Those city residents who are registered anything other then Democrat should be offended by Ms. Plantamura's actions. I find her motives deceitful, and it's clear by the content of her e-mail that she has made a decision to put the Democratic Party ahead of the great residents of our city."

Plantamura opened her e-mail by criticizing Hester's joking comments on her report of the success of the Hands Across the Sand antidrilling campaign.

"Hester stated that he, too, had attended the 'hands across the, whatever it was, that Councilor Plantamura mentioned, and I was dressed as on oil rig.' " Plantamura wrote. "I handled his comments with laughter. Later Hester stated: 'We hear today, that we've conserved so much water, the utilities aren't getting enough revenue, so they're going to increase the rates, so I'm going home and I'm taking an extra long shower tonight.' "

Hester wrote, "Plantamura is attempting to take my comments made, tongue and cheek on the oil drilling issue and turn it into a call for action to bash those who oppose her views. … The fact she has made a play to take my comments and use them as an accelerant to ignite action from her far left core is pathetic and desperate."

Plantamura did not confine comments in her e-mail to Hester and Edmunds' contract. She criticized Mayor Jimmy Johnson, who regularly mangles her name when he recognizes her during council meetings.

"Also, after another, repeated, mispronunciation of my last name, I reminded our mayor that, after three years, he ought to go home and practice my last name," Plantamura wrote. "I said this lightheartedly, but to the point."

Plantamura also commented on what she said was the reason she had written the e-mail: a request for her view on candidates and proposed charter changes in Tuesday's election. She suggested electing new blood to the council and how to vote on the amendments.

Reach Anne Lindberg at alindberg@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8450.

Plantamura's partisan e-mail raises hackles in Seminole 03/09/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 9, 2010 5:05pm]
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