The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 15 No. 16 - February 11, 2015


Mayor rebuts recall

BRADENTON BEACH – Mayor Bill Shearon has provided a written rebuttal to efforts to recall him from office, saying the charges do not actually question his performance as mayor and that alleged Sunshine Law violations are invalid.

However, one longtime commissioner counters that the mayor in his rebuttal is taking credit for accomplishments of the previous commission.

Shearon submitted his 200-word written rebuttal last week. Accompanied by the two alleged Sunshine Law violation charges listed on the original recall petition form, Shearon’s rebuttal now appears on the new Recall Petition and Defense of Mayor William Shearon form being circulated by the recall committee headed by Pete Barreda.

The committee has 60 days to secure enough signatures from registered city voters to force a special election that would allow city voters to determine if Shearon remains in office.

In the mayor’s defense

Shearon’s rebuttal begins with his contention that the recall charges do not challenge his performance as mayor. He also is questioning the validity of the Sunshine allegations.

“The grounds are unproven opinions about two old e-mails,” Shearon wrote in regard to alleged Sunshine violations also mentioned in a 2014 lawsuit filed against him.

He then states “a special election will cost money and resources.”

According to Deputy Supervisor of Elections Scott Farrington, a special recall election would cost the city approximately $3,500.

Under the header “My Record,” Shearon wrote, “City pier, completed ahead of schedule, under budget. Cell tower, constructed and a new revenue source. City website has been updated. Decade’s old technology has been updated. A new budget system is now in place. City staff is being held accountable with transparency.”

Under the header “Why This Recall,” Shearon wrote, “It challenges my leadership. I am trying to correct decades old issues. It takes time. I am trying to preserve our Old Florida community and protect our comprehensive plan and charter, which you put in place. Help me protect our city, it’s being challenged by wealthy non-residents with financial interests only.”

In closing, Shearon wrote, “Do not sign this recall petition. Re-elect me November 3rd.”

Claims questioned

Commissioner Jan Vosburgh served on the previous commission that Shearon has frequently questioned and criticized, and she took exception to some of his claims.

“Without being disrespectful to the mayor, I feel obligated to correct a few statements he made in his rebuttal,” she said.

“In regard to the cell tower, the process was completed according to a contract that preceded Bill Shearon being elected mayor. In fact, when he became mayor, Mr. Shearon tried to stop it. During a commission meeting, an attorney representing the cell tower company reminded him that they had a signed contract and would sue the city should he continue this pursuit,” Vosburgh said.

“In regard to the pier, that too was completed because of a signed contract and money obtained prior to him becoming mayor. Although he provided oversight, the mayor was not responsible for either of the original contracts that led to the cell tower or the pier construction,” she added.

Vosburgh also addressed the contention that a recall election would be costly to the city.

“If anything, the lawsuits filed by the mayor, Tjet Martin and Jo Ann Meilner have already cost the city thousands of dollars,” she said.

Vice Mayor Jack Clarke also commented on Shearon’s rebuttal.

“The mayor’s response sounds like a campaign speech and does not appear to address the issues brought forth in the original petition form,” he said.

In regard to Shearon’s claim that the recall does not challenge his performance as mayor, Clarke said, “The mere fact that the voting citizens of Bradenton Beach are so disgruntled with the mayor’s performance that they would even initiate a recall is proof, on its face, that his performance has been unsatisfactory.”

Get your grouper fix this weekend in Cortez

If you like fresh grouper, shrimp and crab all served a dozen different ways and you want to hear some of the hottest music this side of Nashville, be sure to catch the 33rd Annual Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival this Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 14 and 15. The festival celebrates the commercial fishing industry, along with its local nautical heritage, and is held in one of the last true fishing villages left in Florida.

For more stories about the festival and a schedule of entertainment see Pages 24 and 25 in today’s edition.

Commission hires forfeiture attorney
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

joe hendricks | sun

Due to Mayor Bill Shearon’s excused absence, Vice Mayor
Jack Clarke chaired last week’s discussion on hiring an
attorney to provide guidance regarding the forfeiture of office process.

BRADENTON BEACH – Attorney Alan Prather has been hired to provide legal counsel to the city commission during a special forfeiture of office meeting that will take place at Bradenton Beach City Hall on Friday, Feb. 13, at 9 a.m.

Friday’s meeting will allow the commission to discuss and clarify the procedural legalities of the commission-adopted forfeiture of office resolution before they decide if the commission majority wishes to formally initialize forfeiture of office proceedings against Mayor Bill Shearon, who is also facing a separate citizen-led recall effort.

During last week’s meeting, commissioners voted 3-1 in favor of retaining the short-term legal services of Prather, at a cost not to exceed $1,375.

Clarke’s request to hire Prather was supported by Commissioners Ed Straight and Jan Vosburgh and opposed by Commissioner Janie Robertson.

Shearon did not attend the meeting due to the recent passing of his 101-year old mother, Louise, and Clarke chaired the meeting in lieu of Shearon’s excused absence.

Prather is board certified in city, county and local government law, and he chairs the committee that certifies other attorneys in this field of legal expertise. He also previously served as the city attorney for Bradenton Beach.

When presenting his request, Clarke said, “The scope of work includes review of our charter, our forfeiture resolution, and attending one special meeting at which the sole topic would be the initiation of forfeiture.”

The meeting with Prather will give commissioners an opportunity to pose any procedural questions they have about a resolution and process that has never been applied to a specific Bradenton Beach elected official. Prather’s limited involvement will not include rendering judgment or opinion on any evidence presented or allegations made against Shearon.

Straight noted that Friday’s meeting would also provide clarification on the point at which Shearon must recuse himself from chairing or participating in future forfeiture meetings, if the process moves forward.

When the forfeiture discussions began last fall, City Attorney Ricinda Perry explained that there would come a point where the mayor would have to recuse himself and assume the role of defendant. During a forfeiture meeting that took place in December, Shearon refused Clarke’s request to recuse himself.

Because she represents the commission as a whole, Perry is not providing legal assistance to either side of the forfeiture debate, and her participation is limited to very basic general assistance, thus the request for outside counsel.

Shearon, Robertson and others who oppose the notion of commission removing an official elected by city voters have questioned the legality of the forfeiture process, and Shearon has further challenged it in a lawsuit he filed against the city.

During Friday’s meeting, Clarke intends to discuss the preliminary list of charges he included as back-up material for the meeting, but he clearly stated at last week’s meeting that no formal charges would be levied at this time.

That step would occur later in the process, if the commission decides to move forward with the forfeiture procedure.

When discussing Prather’s hiring, Robertson suggested asking the state ethics commission to review any potential charges against Shearon before contracting for outside legal services. She also suggested that the vote on Mr. Prather’s hiring be postponed until Shearon was present. Neither of these suggestions received support from the other commissioners.

Robertson also questioned the commission’s desire to spend money on a forfeiture process she fears might result in additional future legal costs.

Win this Harley with the lucky raffle ticket

pat copeland | SUN

Win this 2003 Anniversary Edition Harley Davidson 1200
Sportster now on display in the Center’s lobby.

ANNA MARIA – Imagine yourself roaring down the road in this 2003 Anniversary Edition Harley Davidson 1200 Sportster.

You could be the lucky winner by purchasing a $125 raffle ticket at the Island Community Center, 407 Magnolia Ave., Anna Maria. The raffle is part of the Center’s Silver Affaire to Remember celebrating 25 years.

The Center’s Executive Director Cindy Thompson donated the motorcycle, and the Center will sell 125 tickets for $125 each for a chance to win it in a drawing the night of the Silver Affaire on April 18.

This year’s Affaire is being presented by the Chiles Restaurant Group – the Sandbar, BeachHouse and Mar Vista Dockside Restaurant and Pub. The evening will include food and wine, silent and live auctions, raffle prize drawings and entertainment by MPIRE, a seven-piece band from Daytona Beach.

Donations are currently being accepted for the live and silent auctions. Donors will have their names listed in the event program, but the deadline to have that recognition is March 25.

Sponsorships also are available and include Affaire, $10,000; Entertainment, $6,000; Gold, $5,000; Silver, $2,500; Bronze, $1,500; and Friend, $500. Sponsors who commit by Feb. 15 will be listed in the invitation and those who commit by March 25 will be listed in the event program book.

To donate or become a sponsor, contact Dawn Mishler at 941-518-4997 or by e-mail at

Jazz Festival Thursday


From left: Judy Lynn, Bil Bowdish, Ted Young and special
guest star Koko Ray will entertain at the Jazz Festival.

The Ninth Annual Jazz Fest fundraiser for the Anna Maria Island Concert Chorus and Orchestra will be held on Thursday, Feb. 12, from 3 to 5 p.m. at the Sandbar restaurant wedding pavilion, 100 Spring Ave., Anna Maria.

Jazz Fest features the Gulf Drive Band – Ted Young on piano; Bil Bowdish on flute, sax and vocals; and Judy Lynn on vocals. Selections include music from the 1920s and span seven decades. Special guest star will be Island and area favorite Koko Ray, who plays two saxophones at the same time – harmony on one and melody on the other.

Tickets to Jazz Fest are on sale at the Anna Maria Island Chamber at 5313 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach; Sundays at the Beach Market at Coquina Beach or can be purchased by calling Nancy at 941-518-4431. The tickets are $10 per person in advance (before noon Feb. 12) and $15 at the door, if there are any left. Refreshments from the Sandbar also will be for sale.

Quilt naming winner selected

Island Community Center | Submitted

From left, naming winner Kendall Anderson received
50 tickets to win the quilt from Joan Pettigrew, quilt committee chair.


“Seas the Day on AMI” is the winning name of this year’s Tour of Homes Quilt sponsored by Green Real Estate. Winner Kendall Anderson received 50 quilt raffle tickets.

Handmade by the Eyeland Needlers, this beautiful quilt is now on display at the Anna Maria Island Community Center, 407 Magnolia Ave. in Anna Maria. Tickets are $1 each or 6 for $5 and will be available at the Center by Feb. 23.

The Tour of Homes will be held on Saturday, March 21. Proceeds benefit the Anna Maria Island Community Center.

Mayor asks for amended dredging


The dredging contractor delivered these pipes to use
on the project, but the city of Anna Maria ordered them out
of the City Pier Park.

ANNA MARIA – Concerns from landowners around Lake LaVista have prompted Mayor Dan Murphy to reconsider his decision halting a planned dredging project in the lake.

Murphy had stopped the dredging two weeks ago after project workers began unloading equipment at City Pier Park. This caught local officials by surprise because the West Coast Inland Navigation District (WCIND), which is managing the project, failed to inform the city that the dredging was about to start. Likewise, city officials weren’t told that the foul-smelling dirt and sand dredged up would be stored at City Pier Park for several months.

Murphy then canceled the dredging.

But after hearing complaints from residents that the lake was barely navigable in some spots and was in dire need of dredging, the mayor said he would consider allowing the project to proceed, but only with some stipulations.

Murphy said he contacted Manatee County Grants Coordinator Maggie Marr and asked her to re-apply the grant money from WCIND to a new project that contained the following provisions:

• Limiting the scope of the dredge work to only those six areas identified in the survey of Oct. 3, 2014.
• Removing the dredge waste by truck, minimizing odor and waste spillage.
• Having the contractor consult 45 days in advance with the public works department for permission to use city-owned property.
• Commencing work no sooner than Sept. 8 and concluding by Oct. 31, with appropriate penalties for extension outside this time frame.

Marr said she would work on it.

The project would have benefitted about six areas of Lake LaVista, which is connected under the Humpback Bridge to the Tampa Bay. The project contractor had planned to put down the spoil, or material dredged from the lake, into bladders stretched across City Pier Park, where it would have dried out in a few months.

Murphy also said WCIND manager Chuck Listowski admitted he dropped the ball by not informing the city adequately before the project began.

Old Hamburg changing hands

joe hendricks | sun

Wolfgang and Brigitte Jahn will soon turn over ownership
Old Hamburg Schnitzelhaus, which they have owned
since 2000. The German restaurant will remain open
during the change in ownership.

HOLMES BEACH – All good things must eventually come to an end, including Brigitte and Wolfgang Jahn’s 15-year run as owners of the Old Hamburg Schnitzelhaus, the Island’s only authentic German restaurant.

The transfer of ownership is expected in mid-May, contingent on the new owners obtaining their work visas, and the Jahn’s plan to spend two weeks working with the new owners to ensure a seamless and uninterrupted transition.

The new owners, also German, plan to build upon the successful business model the Jahns have utilized since 2000.

“They told us they would keep the staff, and that’s the best thing they can do because the staff knows everybody. This is not a chain restaurant where you walk in, take a number, and walk out. In here, there are personal relationships between the customers and us,” Wolfgang said.

“One of our waitresses, Donna Pugh, has been with us for almost 15 years. The waitresses and the girls in the kitchen do a great job, and we could not have made it without them,” he added.

“My staff is the best,” Brigitte agreed.

“They’ve treated me like family and took me to Germany one summer, which was really cool. I’ve enjoyed working with them, and I’ll miss them when they’re gone,” said Pugh.

“Wolfgang and Brigitte have built a beautiful restaurant; please support the new people when they take over,” she added.

Longtime waitress Shari Urbano said, “I love Wolfgang and Brigitte. They’ve been very good to me, and I appreciate the opportunity they’ve given me. They’re wonderful people to work for. It’s a very organized establishment and I love working with Donna.”

When asked if he had any advice for the new owners, Wolfgang said, “Keep it like it is because it’s been very successful, but everybody has different ideas, and they will want to bring some of their own style too. The best we can do is wish them luck.”

The new owners will also inherit Brigitte’s recipes.

“Make everything the same way,” she suggested.

Brigitte and Wolfgang live in Bradenton’s Village Green community, and the sale of their business will also trigger a major lifestyle change outside the restaurant confines.

“As soon as we close the deal, we have six months to leave the country,” Wolfgang said.

“We spent 15 years here, but we’ll have to leave because we don’t have green cards,” Brigitte said.

The couple plans to return to Austria, where they lived before a fateful visit to the Island 15 years ago resulted

in them meeting a Polish gentleman who later offered to sell the Polish-German restaurant he operated in the space now occupied by Old Hamburg at 3246 E. Bay Dr., in Holmes Beach.

“I love our customers and I will miss my restaurant. I love the Island, and we would like to stay, but we’ll come back to visit,” Brigitte said, acknowledging that the time was right to sell.

“I’ve had two brain surgeries and working all day can be stressful because we make everything fresh, working from morning to night; and my parents in Germany are 84 and 81 and I want to help take care of them too,” she said.

The couple’s retirement plans do not include another restaurant.

“After this, maybe we’ll take a vacation, and go walking a little bit. Nothing stressful,” Brigitte said.

“I want to thank the staff, especially my wife, and all of our loyal customers. I wish everybody the best and we’ll come back and surprise you once in a while,” Wolfgang said.

AMISUN ~ The Island's Award-Winning Newspaper