Saturday, November 25, 2017
News Roundup

Seminole council censures member Patricia Plantamura

RECOMMENDED READING


SEMINOLE — In a rare move, irate council members here censured Patricia Plantamura, asking her "to cease and desist" from disruptive behavior or "step down from the Seminole City Council."

The motion, made by council member Chris Burke, passed 6-1. Plantamura was the only dissenting vote.

"In spite of the council's vote of displeasure (censure) of my due diligence, I am encouraged by many community members' comments through which they recognize that, in asking questions, I am doing the work of a councilor," Plantamura said Tuesday in a written statement. "This censure action could cause the public to wonder, by the number of prepared opinions, and the consistent subject matter, whether an effort may have been coordinated outside of and before the council meeting. If so, this would be a violation of Florida sunshine standard law."

Censure is a formal way of saying that other council members disapprove of Plantamura's actions, but it has no legal clout, Seminole city attorney John Elias said. Plantamura retains her office and will continue to vote and act as a council member until she steps down voluntarily or is voted out of office. Her term ends November 2015.

The main impact is political, said Neil Brickfield, a former member of the Safety Harbor City Council and the Pinellas County Commission.

"That's a very rare thing for commissioners or elected officials to publicly censure a fellow elected official. That's not something you take lightly," said Brickfield, who is now a political consultant. "That's a pretty strong action. That's (saying that your fellow council member is) so far out of what's acceptable, we're taking this drastic step."

It's hard, if not impossible, to recover politically from such a vote, Brickfield said.

What's even more striking in this case, he said, is the source.

"This is a government that's known in Pinellas as one of the best," Brickfield said. "This is really out of character for them."

The action may be out of character for Seminole, but it has been brewing for a while. Plantamura has long been a critic of Seminole City Manager Frank Edmunds, accusing him of violating state law and of failing to respond in writing to criticisms and questions. She has historically given him low scores on job evaluations, or refused to submit written evaluations, saying she could not do so until he responded in writing to grievances that stem back several years.

Most recently, she charged that his management style created an atmosphere of hostility and intimidation that resulted, in part, in a department head's threatening her life. The department head denied the allegations and a sheriff's investigation was closed and marked "solved, non-criminal."

Soon after, Edmunds announced he will retire in January, having served almost 20 years as the city's first manager. Edmunds denied that Plantamura was the reason for his retirement but conceded her accusations influenced the timing of his announcement. On Tuesday, Plantamura suggested Edmunds is retiring because he wants to avoid answering her questions.

Edmunds could not be reached for comment but in the past has said that he has answered her questions.

That other council members do not agree with Plantamura's opinions about Edmunds has long been clear — they've given him uniformly stellar job reviews and defended him at the council table. But, until the July 8 meeting, they did nothing further.

At the end of the meeting, Burke, a Largo police officer and the council's newest member, asked other council members to censure Plantamura. The item was not on the council agenda.

"One of our council members is not acting in the best interests of our city or our voters," Burke said, reading from a scathing two-page memo that, among other things, accused her of "incessant attacks" on Edmunds.

Among other things, Burke said, Plantamura has "accused and chastised the city manager for creating a hostile work environment, but her constant haranguing of the city manager makes her guilty of the same offense … not fulfilled her council duty to submit the city manager's annual evaluation for the past three years ... left official meetings early or 'stormed out' when she did not care for the meeting dialogue."

Burke concluded with his motion to censure her, adding, "I request my fellow councilors and the mayor join me in asking her to cease and desist in these frivolous matters and focus on governing the city of Seminole, or otherwise step down from the Seminole city council to let us bring decorum and leadership back to our city."

Council member Bob Matthews seconded the motion, saying it was "inexcusable" for Edmunds "to be used as he is now."

The motion passed with no discussion. Plantamura first said, "no comment" when asked for her vote. Later, she changed it to "that would be a no from me."

Plantamura did not attend a July 10 workshop to discuss the proposed 2014-15 budget. Council member John Counts was also absent from the workshop.

Contact Anne Lindberg at [email protected] or (727) 893-8450. Follow @alindbergtimes.

Comments

No. 7 Florida finishes No. 17 Gonzaga in 2OT; No. 1 Duke up next for Gators

PORTLAND, Ore. — Jalen Hudson scored a career-high 35, including eight 3-pointers, and No. 7 Florida downed No. 17 Gonzaga 111-105 in double overtime Friday night at the PK80 Invitational. Senior point guard Chris Chiozza added a career-high 26 poin...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Region football: Plant 13, Lakeland 10

Region football: Plant 13, Lakeland 10

LAKELAND — The game — and the season — were supposed to be over.Lakeland was set to exact revenge. The Dreadnaughts had the lead and the ball in the final three minutes and were heading for a field goal. Then it happened. The magic continued.Plant’s ...
Updated: 6 hours ago

Region football: Venice 48, Tampa Bay Tech 17

VENICE — Tampa Bay Tech not only had to stop a hot receiver in Friday night’s Class 7A region final against Venice, but a hot running back as well. That proved to be too much.Indians receiver Jaivon Heiligh caught 14 passes for 193 yards and three to...
Updated: 6 hours ago

Region football: Armwood 31, Ocala Vanguard 17

SEFFNER — Armwood appeared to be on its way to yet another rout through the first 24 minutes of football Friday night.James Miller delivered a crunching hit on the opening kickoff. The defense looked suffocating, holding Ocala Vanguard to a mere 23 y...
Updated: 7 hours ago

Region football: Immokalee 42, Lakewood 14

IMMOKALEE — The final score wasn’t truly indicative of what transpired on Friday night.Lakewood fell to a dynamic Immokalee squad 42-14 in a tough environment in a Class 5A region final.The Spartans (9-2) forced three turnovers and held Immokalee (12...
Updated: 7 hours ago
State semifinal football: Hollywood Chaminade-Madonna 49, Clearwater Central Catholic 3

State semifinal football: Hollywood Chaminade-Madonna 49, Clearwater Central Catholic 3

CLEARWATER — Stocked with a wealth of Division I-A commits and prepared by a heavy-duty schedule, Hollywood Chaminade-Madonna spent three months building for Friday night’s Class 3A state semifinal game.The Lions played at another level against top-s...
Updated: 7 hours ago

State semifinal football: Hialeah Champagnat Catholic 38, Cambridge Christian 0

TAMPA — Hialeah Champagnat Catholic was well on its way to a third unanswered touchdown, but the Lions just couldn’t stop blocking their own path. In one second-quarter drive during Friday’s 2A state semifinal against Cambridge Christian, Champagnat ...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Lightning attitude under fire after loss to Capitals

Lightning attitude under fire after loss to Capitals

WASHINGTON — You don’t often sense frustration in captain Steven Stamkos’ voice, at least not this season. With the Lightning off to its best start in franchise history, there haven’t been many reasons to chide. Every criticism seems nitpicky. But af...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Bucs-Falcons: Tampa Bay Times staff predictions for Sunday’s 1 p.m. game

Bucs-Falcons: Tampa Bay Times staff predictions for Sunday’s 1 p.m. game

The Bucs face the defending NFC champion in its new home Sunday in Atlanta.Here’s the Times’ Bucs coverage team’s predictions for Tampa Bay’s 1 p.m. game against the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium:MATTY ICE-FOLLIESRick Stroud, @NFLStroud: T...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Freshman quarterback leads Pitt to 24-14 upset over No. 2 Miami

Freshman quarterback leads Pitt to 24-14 upset over No. 2 Miami

PITTSBURGH — Miami spent the better part of 13 months cultivating the nation’s longest winning streak behind a series of comebacks that returned the swagger to "The U" in all of its "Turnover Chain" glory. Sluggish through the first half against Pitt...
Updated: 9 hours ago