From Courtroom to Computer


Compiled by Cathy Salustri

As St. Pete Beach’s lawsuits continue, the Gabber continues to receive copies of e-mails from both parties. Here’s one such e-mail – from attorney Ken Weiss, who represented the bulk of the lawsuits targeting St. Pete Beach – and Vice Mayor Marvin Shavlan’s response.

From Attorney Weiss, an e-mail that appeared to have had Mr. Shavlan’s comments removed:

“Seems Mr. Shavlan is more interested in assigning blame than in looking at why the City was billed $57,000. The motion for rehearing was a 30 minute hearing for which the city attorneys submitted less than 25 pages of material. The rehearing was simply a discussion of one very specific part of the case for which the city attorneys had already been paid over $300,000.

“The fact that the City attorneys charged $57,000 for that rehearing doesn't seem to faze Mr. Shavlan. Neither did the citizens' petition to audit the city attorneys invoices. Instead of investigating the fees, the commission uses the costs as a badge of honor, as if somehow, the amount of fees paid is indicative of the rightness of their cause. Really? They'd rather fire the police department than hire an outside auditor to review the legal bills. Those auditors, by the way, don't charge unless they find excessive billing.

“What Mr. Shavlan also disregards is that the trial is only one phase of litigation. There is a reason for a three judge appellate review. You may recall that we did get a ruling in our favor from the appellate court
reversing the trial court when the city was required to put the charter amendments on the ballot. That is certainly no prediction, just a recognition that this case is not over.

“Mr. Shavlan (and the other commissioners') flatly refused to discuss publicly the numerous settlement offers made by the citizens and then rejected them in shade meetings. Offers such as hiring a consultant to
insure that the citizens don't end up paying for building hotel infrastructure were refused because as Commissioner Parent said ‘we're not going to change our plan". Perhaps Mr. Shavlan, and the rest of them, should resign if the appellate court reverses the trial court. Certainly, they will be held accountable.

“See the attached summary from Mr. Anderson's case in which it is proven that the cost of the litigation is solely the result of the commission’s refusal to make any compromises whatsoever.  It discloses that all of the $1.3 miilion spent on the litigation resulted from the Commission’s refusal to settle the Pyle and Kadoura cases....

“And then please read the City attorneys' email (paragraph 87). Very simply, I had offered only to seek sanctions against the city attorneys instead of the city. But, the way it looks, a city attorney appears to be concerned that accepting the offer might cost the firm. Heaven forfend!

“There will be a day of reckoning. Politicians often forget that the pendulum always swings both ways....Always.

“I've also attached the entire motion which will be heard next year which alleges that Bonfield and the city attorneys misled the court by submitting affidavits filed in bad faith. I'm sure the commission will avoid this
hearing just like they avoided the last one. I urge you to read it to realize what's going on in your city.”


Here is what Vice Mayor Marvin Shavlan said in response:

“Regrettably, the city was recently forced to spend $57,000 in attorney fees to litigate two motions filed by Ken Weiss that were to be argued in court on 10/31/12. The first was the rehearing motion which was ultimately abandoned by Weiss when it became obvious from the questions asked by the Judge that it was certain to be denied.

“The second motion claims that City Manager Bonfield and the City Attorneys defrauded the Court. Judge Demers recused himself from hearing the motion since he was very familiar with our attorneys and assigned the case to Judge Campbell. Our attorneys contacted Mr. Weiss immediately after the 10/31 hearing to set a time to argue the motion in front of the new judge but of course he was unwilling to agree on a date.

“This claim of fraud, like almost all of Weiss' never ending litany of motions which are typically amended, and then further re-amended will likely be withdrawn and never be heard by any judge. Why?  Because the motion has absolutely no merit like most things he files.  This goal of this amateurish tactic is simply to force the City to spend money.  Unfortunately the City must have its attorneys prepare a defense in case he actually chooses to argue one of these ridiculous claims in court. This part of our justice system that allows such tactics is broken and needs to be fixed.

“Mr. Weiss cites a summary from the Anderson case as proof that ‘the cost of litigation is solely the result of the Commission’s refusal to make any compromises whatsoever’ yet the arguments in the Anderson case have been rejected by Judge Demers.

“The reality is that the cost of litigation is a result of Ken Weiss and his cast of defeated wannabe politicians' refusal to accept the fact that the majority of the residents overwhelmingly support our Comprehensive Plan and want to move forward. They've given up trying to attack the substance of the plan (since it has been challenged and upheld in court and on appeal) and have now resorted to claiming Sunshine Law violations all of which have been ruled invalid (Kadoura, circuit court and appeal and Anderson, circuit court). Ironically the Sunshine Law, which was designed to protect the citizens of Florida, is actually being used as a sword against them.

“So now it all comes down to a Hail Mary, the appeal of the Anderson ruling.

“My understanding is that Tim Webber will be arguing for Anderson and I have to say that I have a lot of respect for Tim. He doesn't engage in the game of filing a plethora of motions only to dismiss them later. These type of actions seem to be reserved for those attorneys who conduct business out of their garage. However, as good as Tim is, the facts are not on his side and statistically he only has a 15% chance of prevailing. Add to that the fact that our attorneys practically wrote the law (as they argued it in front of the Florida Supreme Court and won) on the type of Sunshine Law violations alleged in Anderson and it becomes pretty clear that this will just be another exercise in wasting taxpayer dollars.

“So the end is near for the micro minority that Ken Weiss has enabled. In the meantime the City will continue to defend the will of the majority.”
*Here are the attachments from the e-mail forwarded to the Gabber; it cannot vouch for the authenticity of these documents but has no evidence of alteration:

Excerpted Document One

Excerpted Document Two

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