Letters to the Editor

County misspends tax money on outside help

Manatee County Commissioner Robin DiSabatino sits with her attorney, Ralf Brookes, as she asks her fellow commissioners to reimburse her for legal fees incurred in a lawsuit.
Manatee County Commissioner Robin DiSabatino sits with her attorney, Ralf Brookes, as she asks her fellow commissioners to reimburse her for legal fees incurred in a lawsuit. ttompkins@bradenton.com

Where all the good attorney's ...

Apparently, the Board of Manatee County Commissioners and County Attorney Mitchell Palmer don’t think there are any qualified attorneys in Manatee or Sarasota counties to handle a simple records request case. In a vote of 5-1 the BOCC approved outside counsel with Commissioner Charles Smith opposing.

Commissioner Robin DiSabatino is suing the Manatee County and Chief Assistant County Attorney Robert Eschenfelder for handing over a hard drive with sensitive information to the plaintiff without DiSabatino’s permission.

The board took the recommendation of attorney Palmer in hiring an outside Tampa law firm of Trenam, Kemker, Scharf, Barkin, Frye, O'Neill & Mullis, P.A. firm for $350 per hour, discounted from $400 per hour. Many citizens objected to hiring a law firm from outside our community at this meeting.

Eschenfelder also hired the same law firm for his defense in this case. Apparently, he doesn't have much confidence in Manatee bar attorneys, or Sarasota bar attorneys for that matter, not to mention a possible conflict of interest.

Our last encounter with Trenam, Kemker, Scharf, Barkin, Frye, O'Neill & Mullis, P.A. earlier this year, which Palmer recommended, cost the taxpayers over $964,000 in attorneys fees and $224,000 in expenses for a 10-day trial. All that money went to Hillsborough County attorneys and staff.

Local tax dollars should be spent for local attorneys, who also have to make a living and provide for their families. Just in travel time alone, from Tampa to Sarasota and back, is $1,000 a day from this law firm .

We, the citizens of Manatee County, want our tax dollars spent more wisely, i.e. on local attorneys, court reporters, transcript providers and everyone else who would benefit our local economy.

Glen Gibellina

Bradenton

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