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Date of Issue: October 11, 2007

Legal fee invoice rejected in Bradenton Beach

Bradenton Beach city commissioners rejected an invoice for legal services from one of its city attorneys last week.

Ricinda Perry of the legal firm of Lewis Longman and Walker P.A., submitted the bill of $14,786.15 for work that occurred during the month of August. The bulk of the bill was for services related to a lawsuit filed by The Islander newspaper requesting public records regarding a sexual harassment claim made by code enforcement officer Gail Garneau against former building official Ed McAdam.

McAdam has since resigned his position with the city.

City Commissioner Mike Pierce made the motion to approve the invoice, which was seconded by Mayor John Chappie. However, during discussion, Pierce said “it seems like too much money. I’m wondering about recovery. I hope we can recover some of this somehow. I suppose we’ll have to pay it, but we haven’t had a chance to look at this as a commission.”

City Commissioner Bill Shearon said he concurred with Pierce’s comments. “There’s not an adequate description of the billing,” he said. “I don’t have adequate information on the billing to approve it.”

The matter failed by a 1-2 vote. Commissioners Janie Robertson and John Shaughnessy were not present.

Chappie said that commissioners could contact Perry directly to ask questions regarding the invoice.

“I think I’d like that,” Pierce said.

Some members of the city commission objected to by Perry’s billing for earlier invoices presented in September, also including Islander newspaper litigation, but eventually approved the bill by a 3-2 vote.

Commissioners voted in September, following a private meeting with Perry, to reject a settlement offer from The Islander, and proceed with the lawsuit.

The settlement offer from The Islander included a reduction in its attorney’s fees.

In other business, city commissioners approved an emergency management plan which allows the board to declare a state of emergency during natural disasters or other calamities. The ordinance streamlines the process of taking action during such events.

The new law also prohibits the sale of alcoholic beverages when a state of emergency has been declared.