Caetano asked to resign at Tampa City Council meeting

01/08/09 Seán Kinane
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Tampa City Council member Joseph Caetano filed for bankruptcy on his Tampa Palms business, which has outstanding liabilities of up to half a million dollars. The Tampa Tribune reported that yesterday a judge ordered Caetano to pay bills he owes to a health care company.

During the public comment portion of this morning’s council meeting, Richard Formica began to call into question Caetano’s ability to serve as an elected official before he was interrupted by Caetano.

Council Chair Thomas Scott asked the City Attorney to read the Council’s rules on personal attacks during public comment. But the rules only state that comments should be addressed to the Council as a whole, and not to individual members. That was enough information to allow Formica to proceed and he called for Caetano’s resignation.

"How can he speak for voters? He cannot and should resign immediately."

Council chair Scott noted that large corporations and banks are being bailed out by the federal government, but individuals have to face personal finances on their own.

“No one on this board is being bailed out.”

Council member Charlie Miranda told Formica he did not think that a council member should step down just because of personal financial problems.

“Just because an individual has had a financial trouble … [are we going to ask them] to leave the city? I don’t think so. … Are we asking them to disappear?”

Miranda questioned the motivations of Formica in asking Caetano to step down, calling the request "a cheap shot."

Council member Mary Mulhern reminded Formica that elected officials are employees of the public and do have to file financial disclosures. Mulhern reiterated her support of fellow council members and said that that because of the current financial situation, anyone could be in bankruptcy situation. We will bring you more from today’s Tampa City Council meeting later in the broadcast.

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