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Chief of building in Tarpon resigns

The controversial head of the city's building department has resigned, setting the stage for another possible restructuring of the department. David Christiansen, 45, turned in his resignation to City Manager Carey Smith on Friday, Smith said Monday.

Christiansen could not be reached for comment Monday. The building chief resigned because "he felt he wanted to look at other opportunities," Smith said.

His departure gives the city a chance to look at a possible reorganization of the building department during the preparation of next year's city budget, the city manager said.

Commissioners last week told Smith to investigate whether Christiansen was enforcing building codes selectively and had been rude to the public. The same charges were lodged against Christiansen when he was working for Clearwater.

Mayor Anita Protos said Monday that Christiansen owes Tarpon Springs more than just a resignation.

"I feel Mr. Christiansen owes the community an apology for the comments he's made about the community," she said.

Last week Christiansen was quoted in the Tampa Tribune as saying that Protos and City Commissioner Blaine LeCouris had pushed for the investigation so a few longtime residents could avoid playing by the rules.

"There seems to be a small group of people discontented with following regulations," Christiansen was quoted as saying. "It's always the same group. If your parents or your parents' parents didn't have a sponge boat, then you're not part of this community."

That's not true, Protos said Monday.

"Yes, we do have a culture in Tarpon Springs that we're proud of," she said. "But every citizen in this community respects one another."

Christiansen was hired by the city in 1988 on the recommendation of then-City Manager Tony Shoemaker. Shoemaker, who had been Clearwater's city manager, hired Christiansen away from his job as Clearwater's chief building inspector at a time when his department had become the focus of criticism.

Christiansen said then he wanted to leave Clearwater because other city officials were meddling in his department. And he said he wasn't worried about Tarpon Springs' history of political turmoil.

His hiring marked change from the previous reorganization of the building department by the man Shoemaker replaced, former City Manager Bill Mixon, who was fired by commissioners because they didn't like Mixon's reorganization plan.

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