Tag Archives: Community

Cortez stone crab season — one of the worst

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On the Cortez waterfront at 119th Street May 16, idle boats hold traps, ropes, buoys and other crabbing gear — a day after the annual stone crab season came to a close in Florida. Islander Photo: Kathy Prucnell
Idle stone crab traps are stored May 16 alongside the 119th Street docks following the end of the 2018-19 season.

The 2018-19 stone crab season was one of the worst in Florida history and “a lot of it is due to the red tide.”

That was Fish and Wildlife Research Institute researcher Ryan Gandy’s assessment May 16.

The research arm for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the FWRI, among other researchers and fishers, placed blame on the toxicity of red tide and the stranglehold of low oxygen in the water that resulted from high concentrations of Karenia brevis.

The stone crab fishery closed for the season May 16. FWC limits the season to five months annually to sustain the fishery. It will reopen Oct. 15.

“Most fisherman stopped by the first of the year,” Gandy said about the stone crab harvest.

“There were no crabs to be caught from the mouth of Tampa Bay to Marco Island,” he added.

John Banyas, who owns the Swordfish Grill & Tiki Bar, N.E. Taylor Boatworks and the Cortez Bait & Seafood market in Cortez, is licensed for about 2,500 crab traps, but didn’t put them all out after testing and suspecting a bad year.

No crabs found along local shore

Paul Moore, who, with Banyas, prepares, checks and harvests the stone crab claws from the traps set in the Gulf of Mexico, agreed with Gandy’s assessment in a May 15 interview with The Islander.

“There was nothing off our local shore,” said Moore, who started crabbing 39 years ago with his father, fishing between St. Pete and Boca Grande for the now-defunct family business, Moore’s Stone Crab Restaurant on Longboat Key.

Different this season, he said, was the lack of stone crabs in local waters.

Moore spoke to others in Sarasota, Venice and Fort Myers, he said, who faced similar issues.

“Anywhere red tide went, the crabs were driven away,” he added.

For Moore and Banyas, supplying the Cortez restaurant and market meant additional time and cost, setting traps and harvesting claws mostly north of John’s

Pass and Tarpon Springs and traveling long distances to recover traps disbursed by storms.

“Earlier in the season, we did catch good crab up there,” he said, but that meant a lot of travel, more fuel and expense.

K. brevis events

At Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, Phil Gravinese studies the plight of stone crab with experiments in tanks, as well as from a dock in Sarasota Bay at Mote.

A year ago, Gravinese said the fishery is cyclical, declining overall since 2000. At the time, he cited a variety of possible causes — environmental changes, hurricanes, overfishing since 1996 and an influx of octopi, the stone crab’s archenemy.

In April, Gravinese and other researchers at Mote published “Karenia brevis causes high mortality and impaired swimming behavior of Florida stone crab larvae” in the journal of Harmful Algae.

The study referenced FWC data showing a 63% drop in landings — from 322,807 pounds in 2015 to 118,079 pounds in 2018 — and concludes high concentrations of red tide caused stone crab larvae to die, interfered with the reproductive cycle and reduces the fishery for two-three years.

The study also concluded that larvae can’t swim away from highly toxic blooms with K. brevis concentrations of more than 1 million cells per liter.

Mote found larvae would die within 48 hours in high concentrations of K. brevis — and noted more than 90 million cells per liter were found at the height of red tide in Sarasota.

“On this coastline, the research suggests the decline in stone crab resiliency because red tide is recurring over the years,” Gravinese said in a May 16 interview with The Islander.

Coastal degradation and nutrient accumulation degrade water quality, “potentially exacerbating K. brevis events,” according to the Mote study.

Landings and test lines

In his position at FWRI, Gandy monitors stone crab test lines throughout the state and records landings and market values for the FWC.
Gravinese and Gandy work together, share data and conclusions.

Based on early landings reports, Gandy projected there would be less than 2 million pounds of stone crab claws — only claws 2 3/4 or larger can be legally harvested — 700,000 pounds lower than the average year. And while the market values must be reported, Gandy said he doesn’t project them.

“I don’t think the statewide decline can be attributed to red tide,” Gravinese said about Gandy’s projections, adding the reason is likely due to fishery management.

Gandy equivocates. “We cannot say for certain the red tide impacted the statewide catch of stone crab this season. Some areas had good catch and other moderate catch,” he said.

Over the past 20 years, the state has experienced lower landing years independent of red tide.

Asked whether FWC is considering changes in stone crab regulations — such as shorter seasons or stricter restrictions — Gandy said no. While the FWC changes its rules from time to time, he didn’t see any coming.

Looking to the future

The Mote and FWC/FWRI studies also point to a few bright spots.

Larvae exposed to low concentrations of red tide were unaffected, according to Gravinese.

“Animals don’t seem to show negative impacts in low concentrations of red tide,” he said.

Mitigation efforts — such as canal ozonation and clay seeding being researched by Mote — also provide hope for stone crab larvae at medium concentrations of K. brevis, Gravinese added.

The FWC started test lines in 1988 with traps in the Tampa Bay area, including a line off the north end of Anna Maria Island, and added lines in southwest Florida in 2005 and the Big Bend region in January 2006.

A Pine Island/Boca Grande test line was installed in August 2018 after the red tide intensified.

The FWC worked with Pine Island fishers to set lines of 20 traps offshore to gauge the impact of red tide on the stone crab population, with traps in varying depths in mid-August. The data collection ended in October.

“Red tide clearly impacted the stone crab fishery from Manatee through Lee counties this season,” including a stone crab die off near Pine and Sanibel islands, Gandy said of the results.

“We had the hurricane in 2017 and red tide this year,” he added, and called it a “tough couple years,” from which the fishery can “hopefully” bounce back.

Former CNOBB members deposed in Sunshine suit

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Rose Vincent, left, defendant in the ongoing Bradenton Beach lawsuit against six former board members, defendant John Metz’s attorney Jodi Ruberg and Carol and Michael Harrington await depositions May 14 at Vincent M. Lucentes & Associates Court Reporters in Bradenton. Islander Photo: ChrisAnn Silver Esformes

The depositions push on as neither side will settle in a lawsuit that has cost Bradenton Beach taxpayers more than $200,000.

Michael Harrington, former webmaster for the now-defunct neighborhood group Concerned Neighbors of Bradenton Beach, was deposed May 14 in a lawsuit initiated in August 2017 by ex-Mayor Jack Clarke and joined by the city against six former board members for allegedly violating the Sunshine Law.

Harrington, not a defendant in the suit, initially was deposed Jan. 23, but attorney Robert Watrous, representing Clarke and the city in the lawsuit, asked for more time with Harrington in light of information that emerged during the first deposition.

Additionally, Harrington’s wife, Carol, also a CNOBB member, was deposed May 14.

Carol Harrington is sister to Bill Vincent, CNOBB founder, and attended and assisted with CNOBB meetings.

The six defendants — Reed Mapes, Tjet Martin, John Metz, Patty Shay and Bill and Rose Vincent — were members of the grass-roots group when they allegedly violated the Sunshine Law by discussing city business at CNOBB meetings and through phone calls, emails and text messages.

Mapes, Metz, Shay and Bill Vincent served on the P&Z board and Martin and Rose Vincent were members of the Scenic Waves Partnership Committee.

Taking deposition

Watrous asked Carol Harrington if she attended any P&Z board or community redevelopment agency meetings, to which she replied, “No.”

He also established, through the course of the deposition, that Carol Harrington rarely attended city commission meetings, but asked her if the topics discussed at CNOBB meetings were similar to those in a city commission meeting.

“I don’t know,” she said. “I think they had different goals. CNOBB was for people to voice their opinions.”

Watrous asked her if members of CNOBB were “like-minded people” displeased with the quality of life in the city.

She answered that people were upset that the city wasn’t doing more during the moratorium on permitting large vacation rental homes and had discussed that matter at meetings.

She also said she did not remember hearing any discussion at CNOBB about prohibiting a parking garage — a topic that the group allegedly discussed at meetings, and a topic that could have come before P&Z and Waves members.

She said, if anything, the group discussed providing registered voters with information regarding stipulations on parking garages included in the city charter.

“It might have been something discussed as far as information going out to registered voters,” Harrington said.

Watrous asked her if CNOBB members were for or against a parking garage.

“I think they would be against it,” she responded,” But it wasn’t mandatory to think that.”

Analyzing computers

Michael Harrington uploaded information to the CNOBB website, including meeting agendas and recordings.

Throughout discovery he provided nearly 10,000 documents to Watrous and his paralegal, Michael Barfield, including emails, text messages and other exchanges of information between himself and the defendants, or other members of CNOBB, as well as web information relating to the organization.

During his Jan. 23 deposition, Harrington told Watrous he allowed the computer he used for CNOBB business to be destroyed. He said it had crashed and would have been more expensive to repair than replace.

Near the end of that proceeding, Watrous said he planned to continue the deposition and would file a motion to have a forensic evaluation of Michael Harrington’s current computer to recover emails or other documents he suspected Harrington deleted upon the initiation of the lawsuit.

During the May 14 deposition, Watrous asked Harrington to describe his computers — past and present — and explain what happened to each.

Harrington said the computer he used for CNOBB business crashed and the hard drive was not salvageable. But he said most of the work he did for CNOBB was stored online, through emails — not on his hard drive — and those records already were provided.

Shortly after the lawsuit was initiated, the CNOBB website, including meeting recordings, was taken offline.

Watrous asked Harrington if Bill Vincent asked him to take down the site or if he did it of his own volition.

“I was told, I believe, by Mr. Vincent that we were dissolving because of the brouhaha,” Harrington said. “I took the website down and that was it.”

“Did anyone ask you to take the website down?” Watrous asked.”

“I don’t remember that,” Harrington responded. “I took it down because it was defunct.”

At the conclusion of Michael Harrington’s May 14 deposition, Watrous said that if Michael Harrington can produce the login information for the Dropbox account he used while managing information for CNOBB, the plaintiff might not require a forensic investigation.

Attorney Jodi Ruberg, standing in for Metz’s attorney, Thomas Shults, attended the deposition, but did not cross-examine Carol or Michael Harrington.

At least 10 more depositions are planned, including Metz, who is scheduled to be deposed May 30. Depositions also are planned for Rose Vincent, city planner Alan Garrett, building official Steve Gilbert, the mayor and city commissioners, several more CNOBB members, as well as a continuation of city attorney Ricinda Perry’s March 20 deposition.

A trial is planned for mid-July.

Contractor finalizes Anna Maria City Pier substructure, walkway up next

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I+iconSOUTHEAST was halfway done installing stringers — support boards laid the length of the walkway — and utility lines along the new Anna Maria City Pier walkway as of May 15, according to Mayor Dan Murphy. Islander Photo: Jack Elka

The understructure of the new Anna Maria City Pier almost is complete.

Decking for the city pier is next.

Anna Maria Mayor Dan Murphy said May 15 that i+iconSOUTHEAST was halfway through installing stringers — vertically set support planks laid the length of the walkway — as well as utility lines for communication, water, gas and electricity.

The contractor also was working on installing concrete bents, caps connecting pairs of pilings with beams to support decking, near the T-end between the easternmost walkway piles and a set of pilings to the east, which will become a boat landing.

Murphy said he expected work on the walkway and boat landing understructure to finish by May 24, but added it could wrap up earlier in the week.

He said i+icon hasn’t run into an issue since pile-driving.

“Everything is going fine,” Murphy said. “We’re still on track to complete the platform portion by the end of August or beginning of September.”

The next step in construction is to install ipe decking on the walkway and, at the same time, a concrete deck on the T-end, according to Murphy.

Murphy said the city received the ipe decking and a portion of the concrete T-end deck, but was awaiting the remainder. He added that the materials will be brought to the Kingfish Boat Ramp in Holmes Beach, where they will be loaded onto a barge.

The city issued a request for proposals to construct the restaurant and bait shop at the T-end, work that will begin after the walkway and T-end is complete.

The city began building a new pier after tearing down the 106-year-old pier in 2018. The structure was in need of repair and then destroyed by Hurricane Irma in September 2017.

Brown ‘gumbo’ algae invades island

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Another bout of brown algae returns to Key Royale Drive May 6 at 65th Street in Holmes Beach. Islander Photo: Christine Wright
Brown algae blankets the Key Royale canal at 65th Street during the last week of March and first week of May. Islander Photo: Christine Wright
A closeup May 9 shows the fiberous sheath of oblong-shaped algae at 66th Street. Islander Photo: Kathy Prucnell

“People call it gumbo,” Holmes Beach Mayor Judy Titsworth said May 9.

At the end of April and beginning of May, pad-like algal blooms pushed into waters around Anna Maria Island, hung around for about a week and receded.

But then the unwanted visitor came back strong and stinky.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection began testing May 9 in Holmes Beach to determine the toxicity of the large brownish oblong algae mats.

The DEP collected samples from two Holmes Beach locations — bayside at 26th Street and the canal north of Westbay Point & Moorings, 6500 Flotilla Drive.

Also May 9, DEP spokeswoman Weesam Khoury would not speculate on why the bloom was occurring and did not know when testing results would be made available.

The samples will be analyzed in Tallahassee for toxicity and algal type.

Similar testing from Lake Okeechobee, along the Calaloosahatchee River to Fort Myers, has been performed in the past month. And, in places, whitish mold has grown on the brown pads.

As to why sites were chosen, she said there were several reports from Charlotte County to Manatee County that prompted testing for six types of “microcystins,” including toxic cyanobacteria, known as the blue-green algae, and three other toxins.

“Residents and visitors are always advised to avoid coming into contact with algae and to stay out of the water where a visible bloom is present,” Khoury said in a May 9 email, adding the DEP will monitor and retest persistent blooms.

In Sarasota County, the DEP identified Lyngbya wollei, a large diameter cyanobacteria with the same thick sheath and dense mats, according to Stephannie Kettle, of Mote Marine Laboratory.

Lyngbya nuisance blooms are known to degrade water quality, damage beaches and shorelines, cause skin irritation, reduce biodiversity and impair habitat and food webs. “Mote doesn’t work with this type of algae,” Kettle said.

Mote, as well as the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, research and monitor another algae, Karenia brevis, also known as red tide, which pushed into southwest Florida in high concentrations between August 2017 and January 2019, causing massive fish kills and deaths of manatees, dolphins and other marine animals and birds in the hundreds.

The current algae is not red tide.

Also testing the water in May was the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, a branch of the FWC.

Spokeswoman Kelly Richmond said volunteers sampled locations at the Rod & Reel Pier May 6 and School Key, known as Key Royale, May 1.

Results from the FWRI testing showed no harmful algal blooms, she said. Volunteers will continue sampling the water and may add other test locations.

Although the stench improved and no HABs were identified on Anna Maria Island the second week of May, some people living near the algal blooms expressed their disgust.

“Last week, after it sat in the sun, it was really strong. Like sewage. Even inside our house,” Holmes Beach resident Christine Wright said May 9.

Titsworth agreed, “People are hating it.”

She has asked Barney Salmon, the city director of development services, to research the outbreak.

“I firmly believe it comes from too much nutrients,” the mayor said, adding “It happens a lot.”

Reporting blooms

The DEP encourages the reporting of alga blooms to its hotline at 855-305-3903 or online.

Florida legislative session ends, home rule threats fail

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The Florida Capitol Complex in Tallahassee. Anna Maria, Bradenton Beach and Holmes Beach hired lobbyists to protect their home-rule authority and officials expect to have to do the same in 2020. Islander File Photo: Bonner Joy

By Ryan Paice and ChrisAnn Silver Esformes
Islander Reporters

You could call it a dud.

Anna Maria Island officials breathed a collective sigh of relief with the end of the 2019 Florida legislative session.

Each of the three island cities lobbied to oppose two sets of bills seen as threats to home rule, including Senate Bill 824 and House Bill 987, as well as House Bill 1383 and Senate Bill 1720. The four bills failed by the time session ended May 4.

And Anna Maria and Bradenton Beach could receive funding from the state, if the cities’ requested budget items are signed by the governor.

Anna Maria requested $285,000 from the state toward the construction of the Anna Maria City Pier. Carter said the city requested funding to help make up for money promised but not delivered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The city requested $1,829,903 from FEMA under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act for the new pier, but city commissioners voted in August 2018 to accept a $1,372,427.50 offer from FEMA.

The act provides a means for municipalities to request federal natural disaster assistance, including money for the repair, restoration or replacement of damaged facilities.

Anna Maria’s request was pending the governor’s approval as of May 9.

Three Bradenton Beach appropriations projects, totaling $5,694,248, also made the final cuts in the state legislative budget.

Pending the governor’s signature, the city will receive $500,000 for seagrass mitigation, $2,694,248 for flood prevention efforts and $2,000,000 for a transportation program.

Home rule, vacation rentals

HB 987 would have revised application requirements for vacation rental licensure, as well as require the Florida Division of Hotels and Restaurants of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation to post license information on its website.

Following approval from several subcommittees, the bill was placed on the calendar for consideration April 17, but died for lack of action May 3.

Anna Maria Commissioner Carol Carter said in a May 8 interview with The Islander that state Rep. Will Robinson, R-Bradenton, helped muster opposition to the bill, while state Sens. Joe Gruters, R-Sarasota, and Senate President Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, opposed the companion legislation.

HB 987’s companion bill, SB 824, was filed by state Sen. Manny Diaz, R-Haileah, and referred to the Committee of Innovation, Industry and Technology in February, but was not considered during the committee’s March 26 meeting.

Diaz’ measure would have required vacation rental owners to apply for licensing through the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation Division of Hotels and Restaurants.

The bill died May 3 after its committee failed to consider the legislation at meetings March 26 and April 10.

“We’re lucky, but the Florida League of Cities people tell us that anti-home rule bills will be brought forward again in 2020, and we need to go on the offense, even early on, before the session starts,” Carter said. “So, we’re trying to come up with some strategies to be offensive players.

“It’s a tad frustrating (to deal with opposing the same efforts repeatedly) but we’re gathering more and more momentum,” Carter continued.

The other set of bills each of the island cities lobbied to oppose included HB 1383, which was filed by Grant and would have amended the Bert J. Harris Private

Property Rights Protection Act, which allows demands for compensation due to government regulations that diminish the value of private property.

HB 1383 would have required across the board application of any settlement reached on a Bert Harris claim that involves the issuance of a variance or exception to a regulation to all “similarly situated residential properties.”

However, “similarly situated” was not defined in the bill, which appeared to be granting the exception as the norm.

The bill also would have reduced the period for a government entity to respond to Bert Harris claims from 150 days to 90 days.

HB 1383 was placed on the calendar for consideration after passing through the Judiciary Committee April 16 on a 15-3 vote, but no further action was taken and it died May 3.

Its companion bill, SB 1720, which was filed by state Sen. Tom Lee, R-Thonotosassa, was referred to the Judiciary and Community Affairs committees, but was not considered for a vote at meetings April 1 and April 8, and died May 3.

“The fact that these bills were not passed is very good for the citizens of island cities like ours that are caught in a constant struggle for home rule,” Holmes Beach Commission Chair Jim Kihm said May 9. “We are the ones that deal with this every day and know what is best for our cities, not the legislators.”

Transportation experts surveying public on long-range plans

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The fare-free trolley operated by Manatee County Area Transit stops at the Manatee Public Beach in mid-April for people to catch a ride north. Transportation planners are circulating surveys for long-range planning among transit riders, motorists, bikers and more. Islander Photo: Lisa Neff

Beep.

Beep.

Transportation experts compiling a long-range plan know a survey of the general public will define problems.

They also hope people who complete the online survey can shape solutions.

The regional Sarasota/Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization in collaboration with the Florida Department of Transportation and a host of committees is making 25-year plans in “Transform Tomorrow.”

The MPO must revise the document every five years to include a list of transportation improvements, reflect changing priorities, trends and technologies and also address safety, infrastructure, congestion, economics and environmental sustainability.

Technicians, consultants, government administrators and elected officials are shaping the plan, as are public comments via a survey on the MPO’s homepage at www.mympo.org.

The survey begins with basic questions:
• What is your primary mode of transportation?
• How important is transportation to your family?
• Have you missed work due to a lack of transportation?
• Do you drive a car?
• Do you ride a bicycle?
• Will you take public transit?
• Do you use Uber or Lyft?
• Do you walk, run or jog to a destination?

“They really want the public to participate,” Lynn Burnett of LTA Engineers, the contracted city engineer in Bradenton Beach and Holmes Beach, said May 6. “The goal is to have 4,500 people participate in this survey.”

Burnett commented at Bradenton Beach City Hall during a meeting of the Island Transportation Planning Organization, which consists of the island mayors and meets prior to the MPO board meeting. The May 6 meeting lasted less than 15 minutes.

About the MPO

The Sarasota/Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization, established by interlocal agreements, is the regional transportation planning entity for Sarasota and Manatee counties. A 17-member board governs the MPO. Bradenton Beach Mayor John Chappie, as the current chair of the Island Transportation Planning Organization, is a member.

BB again offers settlement in Sunshine lawsuit, citizens decline

The case of Bradenton Beach ex-Mayor Jack Clarke and the city versus six former board members is headed to trial mid-July.

But the city is looking to settle.

The lawsuit alleges the defendants violated Florida’s Government-in-the-Sunshine Law.

Defendant John Metz, a former planning and zoning board member, and the only defendant who has an attorney, filed four motions heard May 3 by Judge Edward Nicholas of the Manatee County 12th Judicial Circuit Court.

The motions were to compel completion of a deposition by city attorney Ricinda Perry to disqualify her as co-counsel in the lawsuit, to compel answers to interrogatories and for award of attorneys’ fees, as well as a motion for production of documents from the city.

“Mr. Metz filed four motions, all of which were denied. It is significant, we think, that the judge made a finding that at least two of the motions were not ‘well-taken and not even a close call,’” Michael Barfield, paralegal for Clarke and the city in the lawsuit, said May 4. “That determination by the judge has a legal consequence that Mr. Metz, as an attorney, certainly knows about.”

But Metz disagrees. He said that initially the plaintiffs denied more deposition time with Perry. Without the motion, the plaintiffs would not have granted the continuation of Perry’s deposition.

“The city only offered the additional three hours because we filed the motion,” Metz said. “So we did not lose everything. We achieved something; it was just a little harder than it should have been. What they are doing is stonewalling until after the work has been done and the money has been paid.”

Metz added that “none of this matters” when the case gets to trial.

“This is going to look totally different when it gets to trial,” Metz said.

Both sides have attempted to settle.

In March, the city made an offer that would have required the defendants — Metz, Reed Mapes, Tjet Martin, Patty Shay and Bill and Rose Vincent — to each pay fines of $500 and admit they violated the Sunshine Law during meetings of the grass-roots group Concerned Neighbors of Bradenton Beach, of which the defendants were members while also serving on volunteer city boards.

The defendants responded with an “offer to compromise,” to donate $10,000 to the Annie Silver Community Center and exclude any admission of guilt and the $500 per-person fine.

The offer was declined by the city.

Then, in April, the city came back with another offer — this time, the case would be closed without an admission of guilt from the defendants — if they pay the court costs incurred by taxpayers totaling more than $200,000 as of May 10.

“I can tell you that the combined attorneys’ fees for the defendants is in the same magnitude as the city,” Metz said. “So, you’re talking about six retired people, who just to maintain their innocence, have had to put out a significant amount of money. And, when this goes to trial, the costs will vastly increase.”

In light of rising costs for both sides, the city has encouraged the defendants to reconsider previous settlement offers.

According to Perry, both offers still stand, even though the city previously gave the defendants deadlines — since expired — to respond.

“By my calculation, Mr. Metz’s actions (May 3) wasted approximately $15,000 of attorney time and taxpayer funds, and three hours of court time in his ongoing feud to attack the city attorney and avoid responsibility for his actions,” Barfield said. “Notwithstanding, the city continues to urge the defendants to give due consideration to the favorable settlement offers made in this case.”

As of May 8, the defendants, who met privately to arrive at a collective decision, did not intend to accept either settlement agreement.

“When you change your offer from $500 to $200,000, now we know what it’s really about,” Metz said. “If they lose, they will also have to pay our attorney’s fees.

They stand to be out a great deal of money in this case. And we still have a long ways to go.”

Depositions canceled

Another one bites the dust.

The discovery in a lawsuit filed August 2017 by Bradenton Beach ex-Mayor Jack Clarke and the city of Bradenton Beach against six former city board members has involved multiple depositions, with more to come before a mid-July trial.

Defendant Rose Vincent and witness Michael Bazzy’s depositions, set for May 8, were canceled May 6 by the plaintiffs — the city and Clarke — apparently due to health issues.

This was the fourth consecutive cancelation by the plaintiffs of Rose Vincent’s deposition.

Defendant Tjet Martin, a former member of Scenic Waves, said she is frustrated with the plaintiff’s repeated cancellations. “They have accused us of slowing this down, but they have been the ones canceling,” Martin said May 8.

Holmes Beach charter reviewers wrap up sessions, recommendations

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Attorney Thomas Thanus, Holmes Beach charter review Commissioner Sean Murphy, Chair Edward Upshaw and Commissioner David Zaccagnino engage in discussion May 8. Islander Photo: ChrisAnn Silver Esformes

The final report is approved and ready to go the city commission.

During their May 8 meeting, Charter Review Commissioners Sean Murphy, David Zaccagnino and Chair Edward Upshaw, approved 3-0 Upshaw’s third draft of a final report on the commission’s conclusions.

Commissioners Claudia Carlson and Nancy Deal were absent with excuse.

Attorney Thomas Thanus attended the meeting as an alternate for city attorney Patricia Petruff.

After approving past meeting minutes, the commissioners reviewed Deal’s suggestions for minor typographical changes to the charter, including the addition or deletion of commas and apostrophes. A motion to accept the agreed upon changes passed 3-0.

Upon reviewing the previously approved ordinance containing the proposed charter amendments, Murphy said language in the section dealing with tighter restrictions for vacations of city-owned property was only amended to include rights of way with “direct or indirect access to the beach or to the bay,” when the language that was approved included all city-owned rights of way.

Upshaw suggested the city attorney revise the amendment to state, “Real property and rights of way, including rights of way that provide direct or indirect access to the beach…”

Thanus said changing the language would mean revising it to include what was already approved, and the rewording could be done by Petruff and without another vote.

Commissioners also agreed to remove three of 10 proposed ballot questions — one approving consolidation of city-owned property legal descriptions and two amendments to delete redundant language.

“It could confuse voters and it’s just housekeeping on something already voted on,” Upshaw said.

Thanus said he would check with Petruff to determine if the ordinance must retain the three amendments or the city commission could vote on the matters.

When the CRC last considered the matter of retaining its strong-mayor status or allowing a city manager, the vote was split with Carlson, Deal and Upshaw supporting a ballot question on the city manager form of government and Murphy and Zaccagnino opposing the ballot measure.

The charter requires a supermajority vote — at least 4-1 — to place an amendment on the ballot for voter consideration. Because of the split 3-2 vote, the matter will not be on the Nov. 5 municipal ballot.

Carlson and Murphy provided majority and minority reports, which the CRC approved as appendices to its final report.

“I’m happy that this commission has come to an agreement,” Zaccagnino said May 8. “I think all these are important and it’s good that there’s not any dispute up here on the approved charter amendments.”

However, there was dispute when it came to including the voter’s choice for a city manager, which was blocked by Murphy and Zaccagnino.

Charter changes approved in April by a supermajority of the committee will be submitted to the city commission as an ordinance, and then sent to the Manatee County Supervision of Elections for a citywide vote on the November ballot.

Upshaw will present the committee’s report to the city commission during a work session at 6 p.m. Thursday, May 30, at city hall.

The first reading of the ordinance will be held during the city meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday, June 11, also at city hall.

Eyes on the road – 05-15-2019

The Florida Department of Transportation and Manatee County posted the following notices for the week of May 13:

Avenue C: Right-of-way restoration in Bradenton Beach continues along Avenue C, including installation of a stormwater infiltration system and driveway restoration. Once restoration is completed, paving will begin.

Coquina Beach: Manatee County is paving the south end of the Coquina Beach parking lot in Bradenton Beach. The south lot will be closed during the work.

Palma Sola Causeway on Manatee Avenue/State Road 64 at the boat ramp: The Manatee County Palma Sola Boat Ramp is closed for construction activity.

For more information about the pipeline replacement projects on the island, go online to amipipereplacement.com.

For the latest road watch information, go online to www.fl511.com or dial 511.

Two men head back to court for derelict vessels

Two vessel owners face more enforcement in Bradenton Beach.

Bradenton Beach Police Officer Eric Hill issued John Avery and Jeremy Thomas citations for derelict vessels March 26 and their cases are making their way through 12th Circuit Court.

State law prohibits any person to store, leave or abandon a vessel that is wrecked, junked or dismantled on state waters.

A year ago, 12th Circuit Judge Renee Inman found Avery guilty for failing to register a boat and leaving a derelict boat in Sarasota Bay south of the Historic Bridge Street Pier. Three months later, she found him in compliance.

In the latest case, BBPD alleges Avery’s 22-foot 1984 Tanzer sailboat has no lights and is taking on water. He was notified of $220 fine required by June 1, according to court records.

Thomas was cited for violating the derelict statute because his 30-foot 1977 cabin cruiser has no means of propulsion.

In a letter to the court, Thomas contested his March 26 citation, saying Hill gave him 30-plus tickets in 2017 and harasses him on the water and on the land.
Hill denies the allegations.

A 10 a.m. Wednesday, June 5, hearing is set in the Thomas case.