Ronnie Duncan, left, calls Jim Smith, right, who says county workers damaged his Tarpon Woods land. Duncan stops by the property to investigate and later calls County Administrator Steve Spratt to discuss Smith's concerns.
County Attorney Susan Churuti drafts conflict of interest waivers allowing her to represent both the county and Smith. Smith and Duncan, as commission chairman, sign the waivers within days.
Duncan, Churuti and Spratt meet. They discuss Smith's parcel. Churuti records in her notes a mention of a $200,000 price. Smith sends to Churuti a flier advertising his land as a custom home site. Smith writes on an attached note: "Know any buyers?? Ha."
Duncan meets with Public Works surveyor Charles Norwood and engineer Jorge Quintas and tells them Smith is "pretty upset and we need to resolve this."e_SClB April 2
The county starts looking for an appraiser to set a value on Smith's land. Months later, Churuti, above, reveals this is the day the county decided to buy the property.
Duncan runs into Smith at a North Pinellas restaurant. According to Smith, Duncan gives him a thumbs-up, saying: "Hey, Jim. Looks like we're going to buy your land." Duncan says he didn't say that, but instead told Smith: "We're looking into it and we're going to follow the process here."
Pinellas commissioners vote unanimously and without discussion to purchase Smith's 1.5 acre parcel, above, for $225,000.e_SClB Aug. 28
A Pinellas grand jury finds no criminal activity but levels hard criticism of government leaders, saying their actions smack of favoritism toward Smith.
Commissioners fire Churuti and nearly sack Spratt, who resigns days later. Duncan, above listening to Churuti defend her job, chides both for not being more open about their involvement.