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Date of Issue: February 09, 2006

Commissioner fined in road rage incident

A Bradenton Beach city commissioner has been levied $2,000 for what has been described as a "road rage" incident shortly after she took office in 2003.

Lisa Marie Phillips was elected to the Bradenton Beach Ward 2 post in November 2003. On Jan. 3, 2004, she pulled behind a car driven by Ronald Ockerman, who had stopped on 22nd Street in Bradenton Beach.

According to findings of fact reached by Division of Administrative Hearings Judge Carolyn S. Holifield, "When Ockerman slowed down or stopped at the intersection, Phillips became impatient and blew her horn.

"Ockerman responded by directing an obscene hand gesture, colloquially known as 'shooting the bird,' at Phillips. Ockerman then slowly drove his truck east through the intersection toward an alley on the right that ran behind the Ockerman's home just down the street.

"Phillips drove her car through the intersection past the Ockermans and pulled around at an angle on the road in front of their truck, thereby requiring Ockerman to stop prior to the alley.

"Phillips then exited her vehicle and walked toward Ockerman's truck. Ockerman also exited his vehicle. When Phillips reached the area close to where Ockerman was, she waived her middle finger at Ockerman, imitating the obscene gesture he had directed at her, and asked him, 'What's this, what's this?' Phillips also commented that 'this is road rage.'

"At some point during the confrontation, Ockerman advised Phillips that he was going to call the police. Phillips responded by challenging Ockerman to 'go ahead and call the police.' Phillips then told Ockerman that she was a city commissioner, that she 'owned' or controlled the police, and that the police worked for her. Phillips also told Ockerman to follow her because she was going to give him a ticket."

Holifield concluded that "the evidence clearly and convincingly demonstrated that Phillips knew at the time she made her intimidating statements that they were inappropriate and inconsistent with the proper performance of her public duties.

"In sum, the clear and convincing evidence presented at the final hearing established each of the requisite elements to prove that Phillips violated [Florida statutes] by using her position to threaten and/or intimidate Ockerman."

Phillips, who earns $4,600 annually as a city commissioner, has until Feb. 15 to appeal the decision.