Sweetwater, FL – Two City of Sweetwater Commissioners and their attorney fled from questions that made them uncomfortable after Tuesday night’s Special Commission Meeting. Commissioner Jose M. Diaz, and Commissioner Idania Llanio can both be seen on video unable to answer whether it was fair for taxpayers to continue footing the bill for a legal appeal that seems like a lost-cause to many in Sweetwater. Jesus Suarez, the attorney from the law firm representing Sweetwater commissioners in the litigation (Genovese, Joblove and Battista, P.A.), seemed in a good mood until the same question seemingly caused him to utter an intelligible phrase and start a hurried departure.
Commissioners for the City of Sweetwater met Tuesday night for a special meeting to discuss taking the circuit court judge’s decision to an Appellate Court. All comissioners except for one, Isolina Maroño, voted to appeal the decision of the circuit court judge. Maroño was the only official to raise the question on everybody’s mind during the meeting: how much are the Sweetwater taxpayers paying the attorneys? How much more will the appeal cost the residents of the embattled city of a little over 20,000 residents?
Sweetwater Finance Director Ricardo Mendez spoke before the commission during the meeting and noted the financial troubles for the city, adding that the attorneys fees for the litigation was costing the city at least $100,000, and even “in the hundreds of thousands.”
Sweetwater Commissioners seemed to repeat the same phrase as their attorney: the judge did not take into account the legislative powers of the commissioners. Commissioner Jose Bergouignan, although admittedly having no idea of the real cost of attorneys, seemed to explain the spending by comparing the cost of the legal team representing Sweetwater Mayor Orlando Lopez to be most of the the spending, amounting to 75 percent of the total legal fees, according to Bergouignan. we have not verified this figure.
Watch the videos below to see the commissioners and their attorney react to questions on the appeal:
Idania Llanio Comments on Appeal
Jose M. Diaz Comments on Appeal
Attorney Jesus Suarez No Comment on Appeal