Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Port Richey critic files ethics complaint over money for July Fourth fireworks show

PORT RICHEY — A regular critic of Port Richey's top brass has filed an ethics complaint with the state questioning how $5,000 of city funds ended up paying for a July Fourth fireworks show performed by a company co-owned by Vice Mayor Bill Colombo.

Kevin Hamm, a former computer specialist fired by the city last year, said Colombo should have disclosed his role in B&B of Port Richey — a fireworks company he owns with former Port Richey City Council member Bill Bennett — during discussions over possible funding of the display.

Hamm, 47, included acting city manager/police Chief Dave Brown in his complaint to the Florida Commission on Ethics. Hamm noted that Brown dispersed the $5,000 to a local nonprofit, which then gave the money to B&B. It "was an effort to hide the financial transaction," Hamm wrote.

In addressing the City Council last week, Hamm also questioned why B&B didn't have an occupational license in place before and during the fireworks display. Bennett acknowledged on Friday that Hamm was right about the license and said he paid the city $100 for one this week.

But Colombo and Bennett scoffed at any suggestion of impropriety over the funding of the fireworks display.

Bennett said the city donated the $5,000 to a nonprofit called Celebrate Port Richey, which is operated by former Mayor Eloise Taylor and former City Council member Jim Priest. The nonprofit then paid B&B for the fireworks show. Another $2,000 came from donations from Hooter's and SunCruz Casino, Bennett said.

Bennett and Colombo are fireworks technicians licensed by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and received permission from fire officials for the display, according to Port Richey fire Chief Tim Fussell.

Brown did not return phone calls for comment.

B&B spent all the money, fired off 300 pounds of fireworks from a barge in a bayou, and received praise from the community and council members for a job well done, Bennett said.

"Everything was done on the up and up,'' he said. "No one profited from this. It was just a good thing we wanted to do for the city."

Colombo said he received no money from the event, and his only role was setting up and helping to conduct the show. Bennett and Colombo said they enjoy fireworks and are not looking to profit from their business.

Colombo also addressed a complaint by Hamm that the show should have been put out to bid. The vice mayor said if such a vote did come to the council, he would have recused himself. "He is just throwing mud at the wall to see what sticks," Colombo said of Hamm.

Bennett called Hamm a "disgruntled" former employee still angered over his firing. Hamm contends he was fired for making complaints about city officials over poor purchasing standards while working for Port Richey, and it's a mission he still believes is worthy.

"They are still playing fast and loose," Hamm said.

None of the council members commented during the public meeting on Hamm's accusation. After the meeting, council member Steve O'Neill didn't expect the issue to go away.

"I don't think it's dead," he said. "But it was a nice show, though."

Port Richey critic files ethics complaint over money for July Fourth fireworks show 07/30/11 [Last modified: Saturday, July 30, 2011 1:33pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. 'Sharknado' coming to Tampa Theatre with director Q&A

    Blogs

    A movie about a tornado filled with man-eating sharks has to be better on the big screen, right? You'll have a chance to find out for yourself when the Syfy network's original Sharknado screens at Tampa Theatre.

    The original 'Sharknado,' which premiered in 2013, will screen at Tampa Theatre.
  2. Coast Guard airlifts man from fishing boat in Gulf of Mexico

    Public Safety

    A 27-year-old man was evacuated from a fishing boat in the Gulf of Mexico by a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter Saturday night, authorities said.

  3. Trump: Not 'that far off' from passing health overhaul

    National

    WASHINGTON — Making a final push, President Donald Trump said he doesn't think congressional Republicans are "that far off" on a health overhaul to replace "the dead carcass of Obamacare." Expressing frustration, he complained about "the level of hostility" in government and wondered why both parties can't work …

    President Donald Trump speaks during a bill signing event for the "Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017" in the East Room of the White House, Friday, June 23, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci) DCEV208
  4. Erin Andrews, ex-NHL player Jarret Stoll marry in Montana

    Celebrities

    NEW YORK — Sportscaster Erin Andrews and former NHL player Jarret Stoll have tied the knot.

    FILE - In this Oct. 30, 2016 file photo, Fox Sports broadcaster Erin Andrews, left, speaks with Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones after an NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers in Atlanta. Jennifer Allen, a publicist for Andrews, confirms Sunday, June 25, 2017, that the 38-year-old Fox Sports sideline reporter and ???‚??“Dancing with the Stars???‚?? co-host married the 35-year-old Stoll over the weekend.  (AP Photo/David Goldman, File) NYSP103
  5. Amid FBI probe of Tallahassee, Gillum says GOP trying to 'put as much dirt on me as they can'

    Blogs

    Tallahassee mayor and candidate for governor Andrew Gillum might like his supporters to think a federal investigation into development deals in his city is political – but …

    Andrew Gillum