Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

East Lake chief complains that candidate was tailing him

EAST LAKE — Mark Weinkrantz insists that he is simply trying to ensure that there is accountability in the Fire District. That's why he questioned the use of the taxing district's staff cars at a meeting last month.

But Fire Chief Jeff Malzone said Weinkrantz has gone too far. Malzone said he was told by a fire district commissioner that Weinkrantz followed him home. Concerned for the safety of his family, Malzone said he had no choice but to file a complaint with the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.

"It's the fact that I was told that he said I 'stayed there,' " Malzone said. "Was he (Weinkrantz) sitting outside my house? For the safety of my family, I had to do something. What if something happens, and I did nothing? We see that all the time."

But Weinkrantz, who is running for a seat on the district's Fire Commission, said he never told Commissioner Paul Ferreri that he went to the chief's house. Weinkrantz said he did follow a Fire Department staff vehicle last one day month. But he said he stopped once he saw the car going toward Tarpon Springs. The chief lives in Tarpon Springs.

"He's defaming me, debasing me to make me sound like some kind of stalker with a tin foil hat," Weinkrantz said. "All I'm asking for is accountability for the vehicles that the taxpayers support."

Ferreri said he spoke with Weinkrantz the morning after the April 27 commission meeting. Ferreri said he was told that Malzone left work about 1:30 p.m., went home and never returned. Ferreri then called and informed Malzone about the conversation.

"The chief got a little concerned about being followed, and I shared the concern," Ferreri said Tuesday. "I recommended that he call the district attorney and seek his advice and his advice was to file a complaint, which I support. The safety and the personal security of our staff should not be compromised."

In addition to filing with the Sheriff's Office, Malzone distributed a memo requiring that any sighting of Weinkrantz at fire stations be reported.

Malzone contacted the Sheriff's Office on April 28 and said that Weinkrantz was following him and other employees home from the station.

Weinkrantz questions why the district has no policy for tracking the use of fire district staff vehicles.

Weinkrantz told deputies that "he is looking into the department's accountability and while in the Landsbrook neighborhood, he has seen department vehicles where they should not be," the Sheriff's Office report said.

After investigating, the Sheriff's Office decided not to file criminal charges and the matter was closed.

Weinkrantz calls the harassment claim a pattern by the chief. In February, Malzone filed a harassment complaint against the commission's chairman, Tom McKone. After a brief investigation, the matter was squashed because of lack of merit.

"If he doesn't like you or what you are asking, he immediately goes to harassment," Weinkrantz said.

Demorris A. Lee can be reached at or (727)445-4174

East Lake chief complains that candidate was tailing him 05/04/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 4, 2010 7:10pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. In this Thursday, Sept. 21, 2017, photo distributed on Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un delivers a statement in response to U.S. President Donald Trump's speech to the United Nations, in Pyongyang, North Korea. Kim, in an extraordinary and direct rebuke, called Trump "deranged" and said he will "pay dearly" for his threats, a possible indication of more powerful weapons tests on the horizon. Independent journalists were not given access to cover the event depicted in this image distributed by the Korean Central News Agency via Korea News Service. The content of this image is as provided and cannot be independently verified. [Associated Press]
  2. Locals help clear debris from a road after the passing of Hurricane Maria, in Yabucoa, Puerto Rico, Thursday, September 21, 2017. As of Thursday evening, Maria was moving off the northern coast of the Dominican Republic with winds of 120 mph (195 kph). The storm was expected to approach the Turks and Caicos Islands and the Bahamas late Thursday and early Friday. [Associated Press]
  3. Forecast: First day of fall brings more showers, humidity to Tampa Bay


    More moisture will filter into the Tampa Bay area on Friday, the official start of fall, allowing for higher rain chances through the day and beginning half of the weekend.

    Tampa Bay's 7 day forecast. [WTSP]
  4. Polk childcare workers who berated autistic child turn themselves in (w/video)


    WINTER HAVEN — Two childcare workers are facing child abuse charges after a Snapchat video surfaced of them berating, taunting and throwing a backpack at an 8-year-old autistic child.

    Police are searching for two childcare workers - Kaderrica Smith, 26, and Alexis Henderson, 20 - after a Snapchat video surfaced of them berating, taunting and throwing a backpack at an 8-year-old Autistic child in Winter Haven. [Winter Haven Police Department]
  5. Trigaux: Tampa Bay household income tops $50,000 but still makes us look poor

    Personal Finance

    The good news is Tampa Bay's median household income finally crawled above $50,000 last year. The bad news is that figure — officially $51,115 by new U.S. Census Bureau data — still puts the Tampa Bay region as the poorest of the nation's 25 largest metro areas.

    Tampa Bay still has the lowest median household income among the 25 most populous metro areas, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.