Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Gulfport may hire full-time attorney

Gulfport will hold a special workshop Thursday to hash out a proposal to replace the city's part-time lawyer with a full-time staff position.

Mayor Mike Yakes said he wants to end ongoing discussion about the matter.

"We need to knuckle down,'' he said. "Thursday is the time to say, we're moving forward, we agree to put out the search, advertise and bring onboard a city attorney.''

Yakes, who backs the full-time position, said it makes financial sense. Timothy Driscoll, the current part-time city attorney, is paid about $87,000 a year, he said.

"I think that with a little bit more, we will have a full-time legal adviser,'' he said, adding that the city has budgeted $120,000 for the new job.

At least two members of the City Council are not convinced of the financial wisdom of such a decision.

"We just went through and gutted our city budget, so I don't know where we're going to get money to hire a new city attorney,'' said council member Bob Worthington. "It seems like bad timing to me.''

Council member Mary Stull agreed.

"I just worry about the whole cost of the thing. It sounds like it is going to be an economic measure, but you're going to have to figure out the extras that go along with it. You're not only going to pay a salary; you're going to pay benefits,'' she said, adding that there might also be the need to hire support staff and to pay for research materials.

Judy Ryerson, the newest member of the council, says she's open-minded on the subject.

"I'm still wanting some answers, like the cost and how we're going to house one. Is there actually enough work for a full-time attorney?'' she said.

Though she said she was satisfied with Driscoll's performance, Ryerson said, "I think there could be some adjustments and improvement, but I don't think that a wholesale dumping is necessary.''

Gulfport hired Driscoll in 1990, five years after he graduated from Stetson University College of Law. In 2005, he stepped down from representing the city in a zoning issue after some residents complained that he had not defended the city aggressively enough. Later that year, Worthington called for a vote on whether the city should replace Driscoll. The City Council kept him. Worthington now says he's satisfied with the lawyer's work.

Last year, in response to complaints by St. Pete Beach commissioners who no longer trusted his legal advice, Driscoll resigned as that city's attorney. He has provided legal services to the Pinellas County Mayors Council and represented city commissioners in Pinellas Park and Redington Beach.

City Council member Michele King supports the mayor's rationale for hiring a full-time attorney.

"In the long run, it's going to cost us less. Right now, we have a city attorney on retainer and he gets paid extra. If we had an in-house attorney, that wouldn't be the case. I think it's an idea that's finally found its time,'' King said.

"We're not looking to build space. We're not looking for a legal assistant. We're looking for someone who will get the ordinances out in a timely fashion and one who doesn't have the financial incentive to litigate,'' she said.

Tom Minkoff, who campaigned briefly for Pinellas County property appraiser, has offered to represent Gulfport until it hires a new full-time attorney, King added.

Yakes said Driscoll is welcome to apply for the full-time position.

"I have worked with the city attorney for 17 years. My decision is not to push him out. My decision is to do the best for the city. If the council agrees, then we bring it to the next council meeting,'' he said.

Waveney Ann Moore can be reached at or (727) 892-2283.

Gulfport may hire full-time attorney 09/23/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 23, 2008 3:17pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Police: Uber driver's gun discharges during fight at Adventure Island in Tampa

    Public Safety

    TAMPA — An Uber driver's gun went off Sunday at Adventure Island during a fight between the driver and two passengers.

  2. Baker cautious on Pride politics


    Rick and Joyce Baker strode down Central Avenue Sunday amid rainbow flags, corporate booths, and blaring music of the St. Pete Pride Festival.

    St. Petersburg mayoral candidate Rick Baker chats Sunday with people at the St. Pete Pride Festival. As mayor, Baker did not sign a Pride parade proclamation, but now he says he would.
  3. Rays' bullpen stars lit up in loss to Orioles

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Saturday it was the soft underbelly of the bullpen that let one get away from the Rays, incurring the wrath of the team's faithful followers, who wondered why the high-leverage guys weren't pitching.

    Rays closer Alex Colome, coming in with the score tied in the ninth, allows three runs in his second straight poor outing.
  4. Lightning among early suitors for defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman said he planned to explore free agency for potential needs, which include bolstering his blue line and adding a wing or two.

    Defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, who can be a free agent Saturday, counts the Lightning among his early suitors.
  5. Senate leaders try to appease members as support for health bill slips


    WASHINGTON — Senate Republican leaders scrambled Sunday to rally support for their health care bill, even as opposition continued to build outside Congress and two Republican senators questioned whether the bill would be approved this week.

    Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, speaking to reporters on Capitol Hill on Thursday, is one of the five Republican senators who announced they cannot support the health care bill as drafted.