Miami Lakes

High court won’t consider Miami Lakes’ views on Pizzi case

Miami Lakes’ attempt to become a part of former mayor Michael Pizzi’s case against Gov. Rick Scott was shot down by the Florida Supreme Court last week.

The court refused to consider the the town’s “friend of the court” brief as an interested party in the case because the brief was filed too late. And now Pizzi is criticizing the council’s decision to spend money on the brief.

“It is a shame that the town wasted so many thousands of tax dollars based on bad advice,” Pizzi said. “The council should reimburse the taxpayers out of their own pockets.”

The Town Council voted, at an Aug. 27 special meeting, to approve a contract with legal giant Akerman LLP to pay a team of attorneys $375 an hour to provide additional legal counsel as the town prepared and filed its motion. The resolution stated that the costs could add up to as much as $50,000.

Town Clerk Marjorie Tejada said that as of Monday afternoon Miami Lakes had not issued any payments to Akerman so far for its work in the Pizzi case. Town spokeswoman Nicole Lesson said the town manager will prepare a report to present to the council on what the scope of the firm’s work has been so far.

Vice Mayor Manny Cid said he supported Town Attorney Raul Gastesi’s recommendation to take action because he felt it was in the town’s best interest. Gastesi could not be reached for comment.

“I’m not an attorney. I’m not a judge. I don’t give opinions on legal issues,” Cid said. “I made my decision based on the loyalty oath I took to defend the charter.”

Councilman Nelson Rodriguez supported the item at the Aug. 27 meeting but also had some reservations.

“I am concerned about the tax dollars being spent,” Rodriguez said at the meeting. “Sometimes you have to, with financial dollars, take care of protecting your constitution or your charter.”

Both items at the Aug. 27 meeting were sponsored by the current mayor Wayne Slaton, who recused himself and left the meeting without voting. Some residents during and after that meeting said they were concerned about the town getting involved.

“We’re personally funding [Slaton’s] personal needs,” resident Rose Nunez said after the August meeting.

Gastesi said at the meeting that “defending the charter” was his main priority.

“This is not Wayne Slaton versus Michael Pizzi. This is not Raul Gastesi versus Michael Pizzi. This is about the charter,” Gastesi said at the meeting.