Regarding the Athens Theatre Scandal


Mayor and Commissioners of the City of DeLand:

Certain actions of the City of DeLand have struck me as appearing improper, giving rise to a grievance. I am now petitioning for redress of that grievance.

I regret that you were unable to hear my presentation on this topic at the last regular meeting. You would have liked it better than this week’s; besides the humor that leavened that attempt, brevity made it the more desirable.

The change from its original form to this sermon has made the presentation longer, though it should still be shorter than the ‘‘during the campaign, I learned that there were issues’’ presentation at the end of last meeting.

In this presentation, I describe the grievance, contrast the City’s actions with private enterprise, and suggest actions that would serve to redress this grievance.

It has come to my attention that the City Attorney has engaged in the dubious practice of negotiating with himself on the Athens Theatre. That is, he represented both parties to a transaction: as City Attorney, he represented DeLand. As investor, he represented himself. He conducted the negotiations for both parties.

I doubt that it surprises anyone that he arranged a rather sweet deal for himself. The City guaranteed him a profit and promised to locate $250,000 in grant money for him.

In many courses of life, businessmen make investments in the hope of making a profit. Of course, most of the time they are at the mercy of their customers; some firms fail. Outside of government, there are not many guaranteed profits. Bad businessmen may become defense contractors, grant gobblers, or the like.

Of course one has to wonder how well the City was represented in such a deal. I’m sure that the attorney did at least the legal minimum in performing his fiduciary responsibility to his client. He may wish to assure the Commission that he did a good job representing the City during the tough negotiating sessions.

At the same time, it is clear that he has done well for himself, with a guaranteed profit on the deal and a reasonable expectation of a quarter million in grant money. That grant money has to come from taxpayers one way or another. If it comes via Tallahassee, every dollar costs us $1.34 sent north from DeLand. If it comes via Washington, every dollar costs us $1.67. The taxpayers can’t win with a deal like that.

In addition to protecting the City’s interests while negotiating this, it appears that the attorney helped a friend get a nice no-bid contract on the roof. I trust that it mattered not a bit that the friend was a big wine-and-cheeser and hoped to be influential before long. It still looks bad.

I am also certain that the friend signed proper paperwork warranting that there wouldn’t be a fire while he was using the City’s truck to look over the job. Failure by the attorney to collect such written assurances might have been a breach of his fiduciary responsibility to the City. The City Manager will surely make copies of the signed warranties available for inspection during regular business hours for all interested parties.

I would never want to be mis-understood as suggesting in this presentation that Zimmerman failed in any wise to carry out his full responsibility to his client, the City of DeLand. I make no claim here that his action, either during negotiation or afterward, is in violation of any law or canon.

Further, I am sure that the City formally recognized the unique situation of their attorney representing another party in the transaction, and that the Commission gave its formal approval before negotiations began. I am certain that the attorney provided the Commission with his opinion that the contract was not in violation of §112.313(3), F.S., in order that there be no question of illegality.

The problem is that his actions are not in accord with either good taste or good judgement. By his actions, Mr. Zimmerman has shown that he is the kind of person who would represent both parties in a transaction.

He has shown himself to be the kind of person that would do such a thing. This week, the Athens scandal, wherein the attorney hopes to collect a quarter million taxpayer dollars. We do not know what opportunity will come along next week, and have no reason to believe that the attorney will resist the temptation when it arrives.

I must therefore suggest, as the first step to remedy the grievance, that Mr. Zimmerman be summarily relieved of all duties with the City. The reason is not his involvement in the Athens scandal. I do not feel that should be relieved because he did this thing. Rather, I feel that he must be relieved because he is the kind of person that would do such a thing.

The second step of redress is that the City should request that Zimmerman and partners voluntarily return any grant money received to date and renounce any interest in any future grant money. In addition, they should voluntarily release the City from its contract to buy the property. In consideration of these actions, the City should compact not to take action under §112.3175, F.S.

I will thank the Commission to begin the process immediately.

¤ end ¤

Legal Mumbo-Jumbo
This material is a paid political advertisement provided by

Tanner Andrews,
P.O. Box 1208,
DeLand 32721.
independent of any candidate or committee. No candidate has approved this material. Disclosures are filed timely with the Supervisor's office.

from @(#)dld9306.txt 1.0 17-May-1993

proc with hmac.ta2 1.0 19-Jan-1999