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Politics

Cities score, county loses in power tug

Voters reject Amendment 4 and other proposals that would have given the county more power.

By WILL VAN SANT
Published November 8, 2006


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A coalition of Pinellas cities won big Tuesday night when voters rejected four of seven proposed changes to the county charter.

If approved, the changes would have given the county more power, which the cities fought hard to retain.

The cities' greatest success was the defeat of proposed Amendment 4, which would have stripped from city voters the power to opt out of county regulations.

Voters also rejected an amendment that would have given the county administrator greater power to hire and fire senior staff and another that would have barred elected officials from sitting on future Charter Review Commissions.

The review group convenes every six years to develop changes for voters to consider and Pinellas cities feared that without elected officials on future commissions, they would be voiceless.

"Things did not work out as well as the Charter Review Commission would have liked," said commission chairman Alan Bomstein.

There were some bright spots for the review commission. Voters approved two of three amendments that could curb the cities' power to annex land.

But for them to take effect, special acts of the Legislature are required. Also, the amendments may face further legal attack by the cities.

In August, 21 of Pinellas' 24 cities filed a lawsuit seeking to keep the commission's proposals off Tuesday's ballot.

They claimed that the changes would give the county broader powers than state law allows, that the ballot language was confusing and that Florida's Sunshine Law was violated while the proposals were being developed.

On Oct. 25, a circuit court judge ruled that keeping the proposals on the ballot would not do lasting harm to the cities, so he allowed the vote to proceed. But he left the cities the option of contesting the results after the electorate had weighed in.

 

[Last modified November 12, 2006, 11:57:46]


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