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MUZZLED METZ SAYS HE'LL PUSH SECESSION IDEA

Despite a vote against more discussion, he vows to persevere - as a citizen.

Talk of the beach communities seceding from Pinellas County and forming a new county on their own has irked some officials in St. Pete Beach.

Mayor Ward Friszolowski tried to put a halt to Commissioner Harry Metz's talk of secession, which would involve all of the beach communities south of Clearwater Beach banding together.

The mayor got only the support of Commissioner Ed Ruttencutter in asking Metz to stop publicly discussing what many have dismissed as a harebrained scheme, but the idea piqued the interest of Commissioners Linda Chaney and Mike Finnerty, enough for them to ask for more information before they voted on the matter. They abstained, but the 2-1 vote was enough to officially put the hush on Metz, who has been asked not to discuss the idea in reference to St. Pete Beach.

Although he's an elected official, Metz was undaunted, saying he will continue to investigate secession as a private citizen if the commission won't back him

"From now on whenever I want to do something I will bring it up in front of the commission, I will get a vote yes or no, but I'm still not giving up on getting out of Pinellas County," Metz said. "I'm still going to look into that as a private citizen."

Metz brought the idea into the public arena about a month ago when he spoke to a local TV news station about his plan.

He figures that all the tax revenue the beach communities generate could be used to build the infrastructure they would need to be a self-sufficient county within five years.

Metz said he plans to do more work on his secession plan and present his findings to the commission at a later date.

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