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Judge: Commissioners term limits suit can proceed

10:46 PM, Nov 28, 2012   |    comments
Pinellas County commissioners Ken Welch (upper left), John Marroni (upper right), Karen Seel (lower left), and Susan Latvala (lower right)
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CLEARWATER, Florida -- Four Pinellas commissioners are getting $95,000 they do not deserve. That's the basis of a lawsuit trying to remove them from office for violating term limits.

Wednesday, Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge John A. Schaefer refused to dismiss the suit, saying Commissioners Ken Welch, Susan Latvala, John Morroni and Karen Seel should be tossed out of their commission post.

It dates back to 1996 when almost 73 percent of Pinellas voters said commissioners and constitutional officers like the sheriff and clerk of court could only serve two terms in a row.

The constitutional officers appealed and the Florida Supreme Court invalidated the vote, however in May, the Supreme Court said it made an error and that term limit votes like the one in Pinellas are constitutional.

Following the Supreme Court reversal, three Pinellas residents filed a suit to remove the four commissioners who are serving beyond two terms.

Ironically the commissioners didn't join in the appeal and at the time, and Karen Seel said the commission should listen to the will of the voters. However, somehow the charter was never changed to put the term limits into effect.

Seel by the way is joining her fellow commissioners, spending taxpayer money to fight to keep her $95,000 a year job.

If the lawsuit is successful, commission would not have a quorum and could not meet until Governor Scott would appoint four new people to fill the vacant seats.

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