Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

St. Pete Beach 2008 referendum suit responses get testy

ST. PETE BEACH — Legal briefs are usually filled with lengthy arguments and arcane references to previous court rulings.

That was certainly not the case in the latest round of court filings involving lawsuit-prone St. Pete Beach.

These briefs were liberally sprinkled with phrases such as "stunningly wrong-headed argument," "pedagogical death spiral," "confused," "misleading" and "fatal flaws."

There was dull stuff, too, but there were enough zingers to widen eyes and hook interest.

The argument was over a motion filed in the 2nd District Court of Appeal last month by Ken Weiss for client William Pyle.

Pyle is seeking monetary sanctions against the city, the political action group Save Our Little Village and their attorneys, alleging they misled the court in earlier hearings and legal filings.

Those attorneys know Weiss well.

And judging from the often blunt language of their briefs, they don't like him very much.

At one point the city attorneys likened Weiss' filings to a case described in a 1979 court ruling as "a vehicle for the expression of venomous ill will toward opposing counsel."

Weiss has filed at least four other motions in related cases seeking sanctions against the city and its counsel, according to Suzanne Van Wyk, one of the city's attorneys.

She said he also has filed more than 10 primary legal actions for several clients against the city, and is co-counsel on several others.

Most of the lawsuits relate to a 2008 comprehensive plan referendum.

The main issue before the appeals court is whether the ballot language for the 2008 referendum changing the city's comprehensive plan should have included reference to changes in building heights.

Last year, Circuit Judge David Demers ruled that the referendum vote was effectively invalid because the ballot language "misled voters" when it did not state that some building height limits would be changed.

Weiss alleges city attorneys "intentionally misrepresented a crucial fact" to both the circuit court and the appeals court when they argued the city's comprehensive plan is not a land development regulation and therefore did not fall under the charter requirement then for a citywide vote on building height.

As proof in his request for sanctions, Weiss cited transcripts of a closed-door City Commission meeting last May with its attorneys and City Manager Mike Bonfield.

Weiss "badly misunderstands the facts or the city's arguments or both," the city's attorneys argued in their response to Weiss' motion seeking sanctions.

SOLV's attorney, Robert Lincoln, was equally blunt in his response.

"Pyle is legally and factually wrong and has established out no valid legal or factual basis for sanctioning (the city or SOLV)," Lincoln wrote.

Of course, Weiss didn't agree and in a reply to the city's and SOLV's responses, he said they "continue their misleading arguments" and "dispute even the words they say and the words they wrote."

Weiss repeated his request for sanctions against the city and SOLV.

Van Wyk said Monday Weiss' response to the responses from the city and SOLV was improper under court rules and should be ignored by the court.

She confirmed her law firm, Bryant Miller Olive, is billing the city for the time spent defending against Weiss' sanction motions.

"We are trying to hold down the city's legal costs, but it is difficult with so many legal actions filed against the city," she said.

The firm's latest bill to the city for legal services through the end of April included more than $23,000 in litigation costs not covered by the $5,000 monthly retainer.

More than $16,000 of those litigation costs involved lawsuits filed by Weiss for his clients.

As for Weiss' sanctions motion, it is not known if a hearing will be scheduled or when the court will rule.

St. Pete Beach 2008 referendum suit responses get testy 06/07/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 7, 2011 12:44pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Trump awards Medal of Honor to Vietnam-era Army medic (w/video)

    Military

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Monday turned a Medal of Honor ceremony for a Vietnam-era Army medic who risked his life to help wounded comrades into a mini homework tutorial for the boy and girl who came to watch their grandfather be enshrined "into the history of our nation."

    WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 23:  Retired U.S. Army Capt. Gary Rose (L) receives a standing ovation after being awarded the Medal of Honor by U.S. President Donald Trump during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House October 23, 2017 in Washington, DC. Rose, 69, is being recognized for risking his life while serving as a medic with the 5th Special Force Group and the Military Assistance Command Studies and Observations Group during ‘Operation Tailwind’ in September 1970. Ignoring his own injuries, Rose helped treat 50 soldiers over four days when his unit joined local fighters to attack North Vietnamese forces in Laos - officially off limits for combat at the time.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images) 775062921
  2. Long day of diplomacy: Tillerson visits Afghanistan, Iraq

    Military

    BAGHDAD — Far from the Washington murmurs about his future, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson traveled to two of America's enduring war zones Monday, prodding leaders in Afghanistan and Iraq to reach out to longtime rivals.

    Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, center, speaks Monday at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, accompanied by Gen. John Nicholson, left, and Special Charge d’Affaires Amb. Hugo Llorens.
  3. Head-on crash kills Wesley Chapel teacher and Zephyrhills man

    Accidents

    TAMPA — Two men, including a high school math teacher, were killed Monday in a head-on crash on Morris Bridge Road, deputies said.

    Shackelford
  4. Pinellas sees slight increase in black and first-year teachers

    Blogs

    A year after the Pinellas County school district was chastised in a state report for clustering inexperienced teachers in the state's most struggling schools, the district has reported a first look at its teacher corps.

    The Pinellas County school district has taken a first look at first-year teachers in struggling schools and minority hiring, both of which ticked slightly upward.
  5. Editorial: Trump owes apology to fallen soldier's Miami family

    Editorials

    There is no more sacred, solemn role for a president than to comfort grieving family members of soldiers who have given their lives in service of their country. Those calls cannot be easy, and some presidents are better at it than others. Yet President Donald Trump and his administration continue to engage in a …