South Pasadena mayor files lawsuit asking not to be fired

so. pasadena Dan Calabria mayor embattled

Embattled South Pasadena Mayor Dan Calabria is suing the city he works for as well as a fellow city commissioner and an private lawyer who issued a scathing investigation of Calabria’s behavior as mayor.

Calabria wants a judge to bar the city or city commissioners from taking any further action to remove him from office.

City commissioners, including Arthur Penny who is named in the lawsuit, voted to table an effort to remove Calabria from office during a meeting in March.

The move came after months of political infighting and a report by Port St. Lucie attorney W. Russell Hamilton III painting 79-year old Calabria as a cantankerous bully.

Chief among complaints is Calabria’s dealings with City Clerk Carley Lewis. Calabria’s position as mayor is largely symbolic because South Pasadena runs a weak-mayor form of government.

His vote carries no more weight than any of the other four commissioners and each oversees a sole city department. Calabria is in charge of administration, which includes Lewis.

The report and previous complaints found that Calabria has filed an unnecessary number of public records requests that have overburdened the clerk’s office. According to the Tampa Bay Times, Calabria filed more requests than the rest of the city combined.

Complaints have also been filed against Calabria with the Florida Commission on Ethics. One complaint, filed by Penny, alleged that Calabria misused his power by pressuring a liquor store owner to remove a sign supporting Penny and another commissioner, Max Elson. The ethics commission found probable cause in that case.

Another complaint – that Calabria disobeyed a commission vote – was dismissed. A third complaint is pending looking at whether Calabria violated Sunshine Laws by refusing to release private emails he sent summarizing public meetings.

Even though the commission has tabled consideration of firing Calabria, it could still come up. Calabria’s lawsuit seeks to make sure that doesn’t happen. It also asks for compensation for legal fees.

His lawsuit claims the complaints against him are purely vindictive. The suit alleges “accusations against the Mayor are false and the motion for removal is frivolous.” It also alleges that the attorney hired to investigate Calabria’s conduct as mayor was biased.

The Tampa Bay Times reported that if Calabria were to be voted out of office by the four other commissioners – all four would have to approve the move – he would run for re-election in December and challenge the vote in court.

Photo via the Gabber.

Janelle Irwin Taylor

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as senior reporter for WMNF News. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at [email protected].


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

Sign up for Sunburn