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Port Richey officials trade shots

Published Oct. 9, 2005

City Council member Madolyn Salzillo says she intends to force fellow member William Wilson to resign at tonight's council meeting by accusing him of misconduct.

"I'm not going to divulge everything and I'm not going to play my hand now," Salzillo said Monday. "I'm not quite finished rehearsing what I'm going to say. I'm getting my apples all in order."

Wilson said Monday he knows of no reason that he should resign. He also said Salzillo's attack is retaliation for his own motion, also on tonight's council agenda, to censure Salzillo for statements she recently made at an unemployment hearing for the city's former fire chief.

"If it wasn't so serious it'd be ludicrous," Wilson said of Salzillo's charge. "She's just grasping at straws."

Wilson said Salzillo's recent statements at a benefits hearing for Dennis Smith, the former chief whose contract was not renewed, helped Smith get $200 a week in tax-free support while he looks for another job.

Wilson said he warned Salzillo that if she appeared at a second hearing on Smith's behalf, as she later did, he would ask the council to censure her. Salzillo could not be reached Monday evening to respond to the allegation concerning Smith.

In an interview earlier Monday, Salzillo would not provide specifics of her misconduct charge against Wilson. But City Clerk Shirley Dresch said Salzillo has cited two possible grounds for forfeiture: willfully violating any prohibition of the charter; and malfeasance, misfeasance or nonfeasance in office.

Section 2.03 of the City Charter requires the council, by majority vote, to notify a council member in writing if the council intends to declare his or her seat forfeited.

The council member then has seven days to request a hearing at which to present rebutting evidence. If, after hearing the evidence, the council upholds its initial ruling, the council member may appeal to Circuit Court.

"I'm not going to resign. . . . They can't remove me unless they prove (the allegation)," Wilson said. "I'm as clean as a hound's tooth."

In a separate development concerning the fire department last week, Barnett Bank of Pasco County filed a lawsuit asking the court to resolve the dispute between the city and the Port Richey Volunteer Fire Fighters Organization.

The organization, headed by Dennis Smith's wife, Cynthia Smith, recently moved about $17,000 of its funds to two Barnett accounts. The organization is disputing the city's claim to the funds to help pay for the city's two recently acquired fire trucks.

The bank wants the court to resolve the dispute, to save it from paying out the money twice.

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