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Port Richey city councilman: Let's fire city attorney

Hashim

Hashim

PORT RICHEY — When James Mathieu was a candidate for city attorney in 2006, some wondered if his status as live-in boyfriend of then-council member Nancy Britton was a conflict of interest.

So Britton recused herself from the vote that landed Mathieu the job.

A year later, Mathieu purchased an investment property with then-council member Dale Massad.

Now, Council member Mark Hashim wants Mathieu out.

At Tuesday's City Council meeting, Hashim said he plans to ask the council to remove Mathieu as city attorney.

It will be the first meeting with newly elected council members Phil Abts and Perry Bean, who defeated Britton and Massad earlier this month.

Hashim says he was waiting for a new council to be elected before he brought up the issue.

"He (Mathieu) shouldn't have been placed in that position because of the conflict of interest," Hashim said. "He was living with a council member and doing business with another and shouldn't have been appointed. I think it's better served that we have an individual that's impartial."

But Mayor Richard Rober said he doesn't see grounds to remove Mathieu as city attorney.

"My thoughts are plain and simple. Show me where the guy has committed a malpractice or done us wrong, and I will give thought to that," Rober said. "But I think he's done a good job for the money we pay him. He's extremely accessible. I can't get rid of a city attorney because someone thinks he shouldn't have been appointed."

Mathieu was unavailable for comment on Friday.

Mathieu is paid a $1,800 per month retainer by the city. It would take a simple majority of the five-member council to fire him. His contract does not provide for severance pay, according to City Manager Richard Reade.

After Jerry Calhoun left the city last fall to take a job advising local governments in Iraq, Mathieu worked double duty as interim city manager and city attorney. He continued to work at his law office on Grand Boulevard while he served as interim city manager.

Reade took the full-time position in December.

Bean said Friday he isn't sure how he would vote if Hashim asks for Mathieu to be removed. But he said he is aware of concerns about Mathieu's involvement with Britton and Massad.

"I can see where Dr. Hashim is coming from on that," Bean said. "The controversy about the city attorney is well documented. Everybody knows about it. I think that there is certainly enough to warrant a discussion."

City Council will meet at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, 6333 Ridge Road.

Camille C. Spencer can be reached at cspencer@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6229.

Port Richey city councilman: Let's fire city attorney 04/18/08 [Last modified: Sunday, April 20, 2008 12:23pm]
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