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Clearwater city attorney asks assistant to resign

An assistant city attorney has been asked to resign or face being fired.

Miles Lance, who has been a member of the city attorney staff for nearly 10 years, was asked to resign this week by City Attorney Pam Akin. Akin wouldn't give any details, saying only that Lance's resignation "would be in the best interest of the department."

Lance could not be reached for comment Friday, but in two memos he sent to city commissioners, he stated he was being asked to resign because "I wrote poor memos." Akin denied that this was the case.

Lance was hired by the city attorney's office in 1985. His personnel file contained good to very good evaluations and letters complimenting his handling of cases until 1994. In his most recent evaluation, done by interim City Attorney Alan Zimmett in December, Lance scored poorly, with Zimmett complaining that Lance needed improvement in a variety of areas, including his relationship with the City Commission. In a memo one month later, Akin agreed with Zimmett's conclusion.

Akin said she has given Lance until Monday to decide if he wishes to resign. In his letter to commissioners, Lance stated that he does not want to resign and that Akin has no right to fire him without the commission's approval.

"I am asking you to tell Ms. Akin that you do not wish me dismissed until you have had a chance to examine the matter," Lance wrote.

Mayor Rita Garvey said she didn't think that Akin needed the commission's permission to fire Lance.

"This is something interior to her department," Garvey said. "We have no say in what she does."