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Safety Harbor mayor's attack was troubling

A Times Editorial
Published July 22, 2005

Safety Harbor Mayor Pam Corbino didn't mince words at Monday's City Commission meeting. She accused City Manager Wayne Logan of improperly and without approval funneling thousands of dollars of city money into his state retirement account.

Corbino indicated she had the goods on the guy. She gave a very formal presentation of the "facts" she had uncovered. She handed out copies of documents to her stunned fellow commissioners. She gave a detailed time line of her investigation.

She all but called Logan a thief.

Then she said she wanted to have a special City Commission meeting at which she would seek his termination.

Turns out that Corbino was wrong. But not only is Corbino not remorseful, she also will not apologize to Logan, even though other commissioners have asked her to. "I'm not going to apologize for asking questions," she said.

Corbino didn't ask questions. She accused. And she chose to do it in the most public of forums: a televised City Commission meeting. It also was a surprise attack. Corbino waited until the end of the meeting to make her statement, and there was nothing on the agenda to alert others that it was coming.

Corbino's accusation centered around a $45,060 check that the city sent to the state retirement system three years ago.

Logan had been Safety Harbor's assistant city manager for years when he was promoted to city manager in January 2002. As is customary, Logan and the city negotiated an employment agreement before he was appointed city manager, and that agreement was approved by the City Commission.

The agreement included a provision Logan had requested in the negotiations. In simple terms, Logan wanted the city to make an additional contribution to his state retirement account that treated his years as assistant city manager as if he had been city manager. In essence, it was a bonus retirement benefit.

The city agreed to Logan's request, and it became part of the employment agreement the City Commission approved in January 2002. The city calculated the amount and cut a check for $45,060 to the state retirement system on July 5, 2002. The check was stamped with the signatures of Corbino and the city finance director.

Corbino, who said she recently found the check, treated it as the smoking gun in her accusations against Logan. She said the city manager is authorized to spend only up to $4,000 without city approval.

Of course, Logan didn't "spend" the $45,060, and the City Commission had already approved a bonus contribution without specifying an amount or asking that it come back to the commission after the amount was calculated. But that didn't seem to matter to Corbino, whose relationship with Logan and previous city managers has been difficult at times.

Logan says he didn't do anything wrong. City Attorney Alan Zimmett says he didn't do anything wrong. Other city commissioners, now that they are up to speed on the subject, say Logan didn't do anything wrong.

At a budget work session Tuesday night, Corbino said she would drop her claims about the check, but she appeared angry and she refused to apologize to Logan. Other commissioners just shook their heads.

Corbino also has not explained why she couldn't have asked her questions about the check in private meetings with Logan or the city attorney. Had she done so, an unfounded allegation against Logan would not have been made in public and she would not now look like she was out to smear an innocent man.

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