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Transcripts from bond validation hearing mulled

November 6, 2013
Lehigh Acres Citizen

Following a contentious bare-knuckle meeting that included accusations and counter accusations of lying, Mayor John Sullivan said Monday he did sign a document that bears his name.

"It was a pretty benign document. The city clerk brought it back to me and I did sign it, probably because I was distracted," Sullivan said after Monday's council meeting. "I had no intent to sign it. I see my signature on it. I never said it was forgery."

The signature brouhaha heated up again at the tail end of a long council meeting, roiling shortly before midnight.

In a repeat of a similar discussion two weeks ago, Councilmember John Carioscia grilled Sullivan on whether he signed a document regarding "Certificate as to Public Meetings" during an Aug. 26 meeting following the vote to approve the fire service assessment and whether he stated he did not at a bond validation hearing for the assessment last month. Signatures on the document were taken to affirm nothing was discussed outside of the state-mandated Sunshine Laws, which prohibit lawmakers from discussing city issues outside of public meetings.

This time, Carioscia had a partial court transcript of the hearing, obtained from the Lee County Courts. He accused the mayor of not telling the truth.

"You believe you did not sign it. You said it. If you didn't sign it, who did?" Carioscia asked. "If I was a police officer and I started lying, I would be fired, but for a council man, I guess it's OK."

Sullivan reiterated his position, saying he believed at the time that he didn't sign it. Sullivan also denied saying during the bond validation hearing that his signature may have been forged.

"I said I believed I did not sign it or that I did not remember signing it. Since I've been mayor I've signed thousands of documents," Sullivan said. "I can't recall everything I signed."

"The most important document in two years and you don't remember signing it?" Carioscia asked. "How can you remember saying something, then say you don't remember signing something? You're a documented liar."

Sullivan called Carioscia's accusations a lie.

Meanwhile Councilmember Chris Chulakes-Leetz took a parting shot at Marty McClain, who was attending his final full meeting, after McClain reiterated that he saw Sullivan's signature on the document.

"I saw him sign the document, then you accuse us of a serious action to win over a judge," McClain said. "That was crossing the line."

"Who are you to talk? You haven't been legally in your area for a year," Chulakes-Leetz shot back.

Councilmember Derrick Donnell, clearly embarrassed by the whole thing, put a quick end to things by starting the council members closing announcements without the announcement for it to get everyone off the subject.

In other business, the city council said no to an ice vending machine at a convenience store at 2200 Santa Barbara Blvd.

The Dept. of Community Development appealed a decision made by the Board of Zoning Adjustments and Appeals in July by a 5-0 vote that reversed its own decision last year that classified the proposed use by Ice House America as a manufacturing use, and instead agreed with arguments by Ice House America representatives that the use proposed by Ice House America is retail.

Despite the protestations from those same reps, which would run the vending machine, the council said the structure that would sell (as well as produce) self-serve bags of ice, was an industrial use and not good as an accessory structure to a convenience store.

The use of such machines would be allowed as a permitted use only in the Commerce Park Overlay (CPO) and the Industrial (1-1) zoning districts.

Ice House America owns more than 2,500 such vending machine nationally, including eight in Lee County.

The city council also approved the evaluation of City Attorney Dolores Menendez by a 6-2 vote, as well as approve the meeting dates for next year, which was unanimous.

There is no meeting next Monday in observance of Veterans Day.

 
 

 

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