I’m writing this post to bring maximum attention to a gross injustice currently festering in Pinellas County, Florida. Four of seven sitting county commissioners have termed out as per Pinellas County Charter and Florida Law – yet they refuse to leave office. If that sounds crazy, it is. Actually it’s more like condescending, arrogant and illegal.
Pinellas County is located in the middle of Florida directly adjacent and east of Tampa. Much of Pinellas borders Tampa Bay on the west and encompasses multiple gulf beaches and inland cities on the east, from Clearwater all the way down to Pass A Grille, St Pete Beach. Pinellas County is one of the top four largest counties in Florida. The seven Pinellas County Commissioners have extensive impact on long range spending, taxing, and key major programs for the Pinellas/Tampa Bay area.
In 1996, the voters of Pinellas County, and subsequently many other counties in Florida, voted on referendums to limit county commission seats to eight year term limits. The referendum in Pinellas passed by a wide margin of 72%. After the people of Pinellas won that referendum (again by a 72% margin), the sitting commissioners in multiple counties immediately challenged theirs and lost on multiple occasions. Unlike other counties, the Pinellas County Commission never even challenged the term limit ruling – they simply ignored it, and are continuing to ignore it.
The four sitting Pinellas County Commissioners argue the following. They argue that they feel the ruling should be prospective instead of immediate and they feel they should be immune to the law and simply be given another 8-12 years because they simply feel that way. They feel that they should simply get another 12 years because they feel like it and they promise to only take another 8-12 then leave.
No this is not the Twilight Zone. There is absolutely no legal or any other sense to this and absolutely no legal precedent other than that the commissioners feel that it should be this way.
It is no surprise that at least three of the four commissioners are the ones pushing the most progressive agendas for Pinellas County. The programs and agendas that this group often support epitomize the manipulation techniques that were developed by progressive legislators that were in office for a long time in order to short circuit the system . It is no coincidence that it was mostly these four that pushed things like progressive spending, progressive taxing, sustainability, smart growth, light rail, socially engineered transit oriented development and the creation of additional regional taxing authorities.
Of course the Tampa Bay Times (former St Pete Times/SPT) fish wrap of record see it differently (mostly since these commissioners are aligned with the Times’ far left progressive spending vision for Florida and the world.) The SPT fish wrap’s brilliant analysis is that “the people need to decide” and people shouldn’t be complaining now given this happened in 1996. Of course they totally ignore the fact that the people DID decide and the commissioners and SPT simply ignored it. Also, it was not until very recently that all appeals had been completely overturned by the courts. Pinellas is now the LONE county in all of Florida who is simply arrogantly disregarding the law and disregarding the Pinellas voters…..who already did decide by a 72% margin.
Approximately one month ago, shortly after the final rulings that overturned multiple appeals, an independent group of citizens submitted a law suit requiring a legal ruling on Pinellas County Commission term limits. This law suit appears to be on very sound footing.
The bottom line is that the Pinellas County Commissioners who’s eight years are up….must step down now!! Their term limits are up and they have no legal right to be there. There is no way that the Florida Supreme Court can allow them to stay in office when there have already been MULTIPLE rulings against them remaining. If the Florida Supreme Court allows them to stay in office then the Florida Supreme Court probably needs to be reviewed.
Regardless of the result of this law suit , the Pinellas County Commissioners with eight years need to step down now! The people of Pinellas have voted eight year term limit as the law and it has been upheld in multiple courts throughout Florida. The Pinellas County Commissioners with eight years need to follow the law and step down…….immediately.