The town of Longboat Key won't seek to collect more than $20,000 in special legal counsel fees and counting from Gene Jaleski for a dismissed elections complaint.
The Longboat Key Town Commission voted 7-0 Tuesday morning at Town Hall to postpone a decision to collect more than $20,000 in legal fees and counting involved with a complaint he filed with the Florida Elections Commission last year.
The commission discussed the issue in an executive session with Town Attorney Maggie Mooney-Portale before entering the commission chamber just after 9 a.m. for a special meeting. Mooney-Portale told commissioners they had until Feb. 28 to make a decision on the matter. Commissioner Lynn Larson moved to postpone a decision to seek legal fees and the motion received a unanimous vote.
Jaleski believes the town broke the law by removing information from its website about a neighborhood undergrounding project last year. The Elections Commission disagreed and dismissed the complaint.
In December, Larson requested records of legal fees incurred by the town associated with pending and past litigation brought against the town by Jaleski.
As of Dec. 31, 2015, special legal counsel Tallahassee-based Bryant, Miller Olive had charged the town $11,656.68 for the current elections commission complaint.
Town Attorney Maggie Mooney-Portale’s law firm, Persson & Cohen, has charged $8,859.50 for the same complaint through January, bringing the total to $20,516.18 and counting.
Jaleski said last week he would fight the town’s attempt to collect legal fees and by going after legal fees, the town is telling its residents they don’t have a right to dispute the town’s policies.
Before the vote Jaleski told the commission, "I know I can be a real pain sometimes but I really do have the best intentions. I don’t do things maliciously. I try to do the best I can."
The Oct. 15 complaint alleged that the town prematurely removed information from the its website and manipulated a referendum vote Nov. 3, in which voters approved a $20.5 million Gulf of Mexico Drive undergrounding project.
Contact Kurt Schultheis at [email protected].