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Official to file ethics complaint

What started as an ethics question has grown into a full-blown dispute with the Inverness City Council.

Council member Pete Kelly said Thursday that he will file a state ethics complaint against Council member Leonard Giordano concerning city business being routed improperly to a business that Giordano owns.

Kelly said he tried to ask a city staffer about the conflict during the council meeting Tuesday night. Council President Walter Cannon cut off Kelly, however, prompting a heated dispute between the two. Kelly later stormed out of the meeting and pledged to file the state complaint.

"They won't let me ask my questions," Kelly said during an interview Thursday.

Kelly said he would file the complaint today if Giordano did not resign. Giordano says he has no plans to leave office.

As it turns out, the council agreed to return five items to Giordano's store and receive a refund check, thus clearing up the conflict.

At issue are tools and supplies the city has bought from the Sears, Roebuck and Co. catalog store near downtown Inverness. Giordano and his wife, Charlotte, have owned the store since March 1991.

The City Council reviews a list of expenditures and routinely approves the payments. Giordano says he never noticed that Sears was among the vendors receiving checks; in fact, he said he didn't know the city was buying items there.

After all, many customers simply consult catalogs and call from outside the store, he said.

Giordano says he recently learned what was happening and asked City Attorney Jeannette Haag to investigate whether there was a problem.

Mrs. Haag reported that a problem existed. To resolve the conflict, the city should void five transactions, which include a set of vertical blinds and a garden tractor, according to a memo she prepared.

In return, the city would receive a $2,514.75 refund check from Sears. Giordano said he would be pleased with that result; the council voted to do so late Tuesday.