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Palmetto council sued over King vote

Prosecutors have filed a lawsuit against this city's council, accusing its members of meeting secretly to revoke a plan to rename a street for the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

State Attorney Earl Moreland is asking that the board be censured, that its actions at the Jan. 19 meeting be declared invalid and that another meeting be held _ this time in public _ to revisit the street-naming issue.

Named in the lawsuit were Mayor Gordon Dole and council members Shirley Groover Bryant, Jim Biggins, Brian Williams and Pat Whitesel.

In addition, the state will ask that each council member be fined $500 and that in the future they be required to keep a taped record of meetings.

The lawsuit ends a four-week investigation of the meeting by Moreland's office.

Criminal charges could not be supported, Assistant State Attorney Deno Economou said, in part by the inability to prove criminal intent on the council members' part.

At the "workshop," with few members of the public and no news reporters present, the council reversed the previous council's action renaming 17th Street as Martin Luther King Boulevard.

The council and city administration had for a year refused to erect the street signs with King's name on them.