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Ulrich joins Bay Plaza's law firm

Former Mayor Robert Ulrich has joined a law firm that represents the city's master developer, whose plans he staunchly supported while in office. Ulrich is a shareholder in Baynard, Harrell, Mascara and Ostow and Ulrich. The St. Petersburg law firm represents the Bay Plaza Cos., which plans to build a $200-million shopping and entertainment district downtown.

Ulrich could not say whether he would do work for Bay Plaza or appear at public meetings on behalf of the development company. "If there was something that was appropriate for me to handle, I would think that the firm would make that decision," Ulrich said.

He did say later that he would seek advice from the City Attorney's Office before deciding to represent Bay Plaza before the City Council.

Robert Kaufman, Bay Plaza's general counsel, said he has no reason to believe that Ulrich will represent Bay Plaza.

"I don't think there's any expectation that he will," Kaufman said. "I, quite frankly, haven't discussed it with (Ulrich)."

Kaufman is based in Phoenix, Ariz., but works out of the offices of Baynard, Harrell, Mascara, Ostow and Ulrich when he's in St. Petersburg. Kaufman said the firm handles matters that require a lawyer licensed with the Florida Bar Association. Kaufman is not a member of the Florida Bar, but is licensed in Arizona.

Other members of the firm _ including Roy Harrell Jr., Bill Baynard Jr. and Ernie Mascara _ have done work for Bay Plaza, Kaufman said.

Ulrich said that even if he did represent Bay Plaza, he didn't think it would be a conflict of interest.

"I'm not sure how the conflict would arise," Ulrich said. "I don't think I see any conflict at this time."

Rick Badgely, assistant city attorney, said he knows of no city ordinance that prohibits former city officials from lobbying the city.

Ulrich, who served as mayor from 1987 until April 1, said he wouldn't feel odd dealing with city administrators with whom he worked closely during his tenure as mayor.