October 1, 2022

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Longtime Tarpon Springs city attorney resigns, citing ‘baseless’ attacks

Following representing Tarpon Springs for 26 a long time, Town Legal professional Tom Trask claimed “baseless community attacks” more than the past many months have still left him no option but to sever his firm’s ties with the metropolis.

Trask informed the Board of Commissioners on Friday that he and Trask Daigneault LLP will resign successful Oct. 9.

In an e mail to the board, Trask stated he and his business have been subjected to phony accusations of unlawful or unethical carry out in Tarpon Springs and other communities he signifies. He explained commissioners “have been strongly influenced by these wrong, defamatory and tortious accusations,” though he did not deliver examples.

“I will not subject myself or the business to numerous more months of untrue allegations and baseless community assaults and allow for the firm to put up with the reputational and money hurt that would final result,” Trask wrote.

His resignation comes 6 months just after a town election brought a new board of commissioners the vast majority into office environment that opposed their predecessors’ acceptance of an apartment project and drew allegations of corruption by inhabitants.

The eight-attorney Trask Daigneault agency signifies 15 cities and Pinellas County in capacities from town legal professional to unique magistrate or legal professional for boards like code enforcement.

Commissioner Panagiotis Koulias claimed that in his August analysis of Trask, he proposed placing the town attorney agreement out to bid “to weigh our selections.”

“As of not too long ago there are some troubles that have been brought to our interest, and I was hoping and expecting (Trask) would have addressed them, but he abruptly resigned,” Koulias explained in an interview. “It’s concerning, and Tarponites are going to want answers.”

Ahead of the board authorised Trask Daigneault’s June invoices through its July 26 conference, Commissioner Michael Eisner questioned why Trask costs the town for journey when his contract does not offer for it.

Trask’s contract outlines a $72,000 annual retainer that handles basic obligations like attending conferences, drafting ordinances, managing inquiries from city officers and getting ready improvement agreements. The company can cost $175 an hour for non-retainer do the job, this kind of as litigation, code enforcement tips and authentic estate providers, according to the contract.

Trask’s invoices notice in-county travel, like on June 6 when he charged two several hours for “Preparation for, vacation to and attendance at (code enforcement board) meeting.”

“There’s no breakdown of how a lot travel time there was compared to how a lot prep time there was, and I do not even know why there is travel time in there,” Eisner claimed.

Trask reported he has been billing this way due to the fact 1996 and that travel accounts for a person or two hours a thirty day period. He said the journey is negligible as opposed to all the just after-several hours and weekend phone calls from city officers that he normally takes and does not cost for.

Inhabitants have publicly alluded to Trask’s function in other Pinellas County metropolitan areas, like Madeira Seaside, the place a decide located the metropolis violated the legislation in 2017 when it authorised a development agreement devoid of the essential site prepare. A decide ruled the metropolis violated the state Sunshine Legislation that calendar year when Madeira metropolis commissioners appointed a developer to a commission seat working with a key ballot course of action.

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In Dunedin, a different lawsuit alleges that Trask’s firm arrived at a legal settlement devoid of a public conference. Trask resigned as Dunedin’s metropolis attorney in 2020 immediately after the Metropolis Commission set the contract to bid.

In a memo to Tarpon Springs city officials previous thirty day period, Mayor Costa Vatikiotis also raised problems about e-mails he discovered that showed a developer, Morgan Team, was coordinating with metropolis staff on improvements to the city code many years before publishing an software for a controversial condominium advanced on the Anclote River.

The preceding commissioners accredited the job in November with a 3-1 vote. Vatikiotis, then a commissioner, voted no.

A resident-led nonprofit sued the city and Morgan Group. The issue prompted a groundswell of criticism from citizens and was a lights rod in the March election. 3 citizens who opposed the approval were elected, flipping the board’s outlook on the challenge.

Vatikiotis said in an job interview he didn’t blame staff members but that Trask or Metropolis Supervisor Mark LeCouris should have been “minding the store” to carry the issue to the public’s focus faster.