The dispute over the planned demolition of the St. Petersburg Pier has reached inside City Hall.
Council member Wengay Newton claims at a recent closed-door meeting to discuss a Pier related lawsuit, he was wrongly asked to leave. "I was taking the instructions of our city staff, and they instructed me that as I signed the petition, I could not be in the meeting and so I recused myself," said Newton.
The petition is at the heart of a lawsuit by Vote-on-the-Pier.com against the city.
The group collected signatures to hold a referendum on preserving the old pier. The lawsuit is headed to mediation later this month.
Newton admits he agrees with the group, however says his name is not on the certified list of petition signatures and has an email from the Supervisor of Elections office proving it. "As you can see I'm not part of the lawsuit and should not have been put out of the meeting. This was deliberate and this was blatant," said Newton.
St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster disputes Newton's version of what occurred in the closed meeting, but said he cannot discuss it because it would violate the attorney-client privilege of the closed door meeting. "I was there. I know what was said. I know the advice given and I could say that Council member Newton is mistaken, grossly mistaken,"said Foster.
A transcript of what exactly -was- said at the closed meeting, will not be released until the lawsuit is concluded.
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