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City to pay former mayor’s attorney fees

By Staff | Apr 3, 2018

Former Cape Coral mayor Marni Sawicki will not have to worry about having to pay her legal fees after a pair of investigations resulted in no charges.

Cape Coral City Council unanimously agreed to pay $6,568.12, with half of the cost coming from insurance.

By law, city officials are entitled to have their attorney fees reimbursed in certain circumstances, including investigations stemming from actions taken in the scope of their official duties, especially when cleared of wrongdoing.

On March 13, the Florida Commission on Ethics found no evidence to substantiate any ethical violation by Sawicki, who was accused of failing to report gifts and disclose potential conflicts of interest as required by state statutes. The complaint was filed by former city council member Richard Leon, who received a packet of information, brought it to Council and then turned it over to the Florida Commission on Ethics after members of Council said it was a matter for state review.

Last week, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement also said it would not take action against Sawicki, citing insufficient evidence to prove any criminal law violation.

Councilmember John Carioscia made the reimbursement motion during his report, and also suggested the possibility of looking deeper to see if the two complaints could be seen as frivolous.

In other business:

* Councilmember John Gunter had some additional concerns on extended bar hours, saying he wants to add something to the ordinance to require all bars participating to have patron scans.

Gunter made a motion to make the devices a requirement, but adding a 60 to 90 day period for the bars to install them.

Council members seemed to like the idea of the scanners but didn’t like singling out South Cape Entertainment District venues opting to stay open one hour later on Friday and Saturday nights.

“To require just the 3 a.m. bars to do it doesn’t make sense. It’s not our job to force two or three bars to do it,” said Councilmember Rick Williams.

The scanners would get the faces of people who caused problems at one bar and make sure they don’t do the same at another bar.

Police Chief Dave Newlan said it would mitigate problems, not just at 3 a.m. but all night.

Other problems raised included differentiating the South Cape bars with ones citywide. It was enough for Gunter to withdraw his motion until it is known how many bars will participate in the hours extension program. The ordinance went into effect Sunday at midnight, but no bars applied to extend hours the first weekend the program was an option.

* During Council reports, Councilmember Marilyn Stout made a motion to allow a church group to hold its Sunday service at the Cultural Park Theater.

The theater, which is not supposed to be used for political purposes, is apparently OK for religious groups. The motion passed 8-0.

* Councilmember Jessica Cosden made a motion for the city council to pay for its seat with the Regional Planning Council for 2017, with all members agreeing, but also asking to see if it is necessary for the city to pay in 2018, which garnered little support.

“Lee County has deemed that the Regional Planning Council is not important. I won’t support us going in 2018,” Councilmember David Stokes said. “I want to see who is and ain’t paying.”

“I want to see proof that it’s worthwhile. I want to know why Lee County dropped out,” Councilmember Jennifer Nelson said.

Cosden said it is mandated by the state that the city be part of the RPC, so they don’t get to choose whether to take part.

* City Council appointed Vanessa Metzger and Angela Ticich to the Cape Coral Charter School Authority. Robert Zivkovic, the board chair, was not re-appointed. The vote to appoint Metzger was 8-0. The vote to appoint Ticich was 5-3, with council members Jessica Cosden, Rick Williams and David Stokes voting to reappoint Zivkovic.

It also named Brian Rist and Matt Sinclair to the Construction Regulation Board. Both were appointed unanimously.