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Amid support, LBK Attorney decides to stay

STEVE REID
Editor & Publisher
sreid@lbknews.com

Longboat Key Town Attorney Maggie Mooney-Portale will continue as town attorney for Longboat Key.

Following a tumultuous month in which Mooney-Portale terminated her contract with the town after the commission scheduled a performance evaluation; she changed her mind on Friday, June 6, stating that Mayor Jim Brown and his fellow commissioners’ vote of confidence earlier in the week made a difference.

“The Mayor at Monday’s regular meeting asked me to terminate my resignation. Then there was a positive vote in support of that position. The sincerity in his asking me to reconsider, and the one-on-one conversations I had with the commission following the meeting led to my decision. If the relationship is working, then I certainly want to continue,” said Mooney-Portale.

Brown was visibly upset last Monday night and told Mooney-Portale her impression of the commission and their desire to retain her should be reconsidered.

Brown said at the meeting, “I’m very disappointed and angered that our town attorney wished to resign. I think she has a majority of support and I think she is reading the tea leaves wrong. I would like to ask Maggie to rescind her resignation.”

After those words, Mooney-Portale said she was willing to entertain the request but wanted to speak with each commissioner individually. Vice Mayor Jack Duncan asked the Mayor to hold a vote of the commission to determine Mooney-Portale’s level of support.

When Brown asked the question, Commissioners Irwin Pastor, Terry Gans, and Pat Zunz along with Mayor Jim Brown and Vice Mayor Jack Duncan raised their hands in support of retaining Mooney-Portale. Commissioners Lynn Larson and Phill Younger did not raise their hands.

Younger then said after the vote that he did not raise his hand because he wished to speak with Mooney-Portale first before he could commit his support, but he added that his hand could be considered half raised.

It was Larson who called for the early performance evaluation of Mooney-Portale last month that in part led to her desire to resign.

Over the past week Mooney-Portale held her conversations with each commissioner and on June 6 she formally withdrew her “Notice of Termination of the Legal Services Agreement.”

She wrote, “Please accept this letter as my formal withdrawal of the Notice of Termination of Legal Services Agreement that I previously rendered to the Town of Longboat Key on May 19, 2014. I look forward to continuing to represent the Town of Longboat Key as the Town Attorney and working with each of you into the future.”

Mooney-Portale told Longboat Key News on Friday, June 6, that she is continually challenged to do her best work due to the intensity and intelligence of the residents and the town boards.

“Working with the commissioners and individuals on the committees and the public pushes me as an attorney to always be on the top of my game because the group of people on Longboat are both intellectually bright and dynamic,” said Mooney-Portale.

Town Manager Dave Bullock said the request for proposals the town issued to replace Mooney-Portale will cease and that her letter has been posted to the site where the request for proposal resides.

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