Temple Terrace hires a new city attorney

Temple Terrace hires a new city attorney

Pamela Cichon, a former senior assistant city attorney for St.Petersburg, takes the oath of office last week as Temple Terrace City Attorney.

TEMPLE TERRACE — A former St. Petersburg senior assistant city attorney with 23 years of experience in that job was sworn in last week as the new city attorney for Temple Terrace.

Pamela Cichon, who will work directly for the city, replaces Mark Connolly of Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick. Connolly worked under a contract. The council made the change in an effort to save money.

In voting to hire Cichon, the City Council dismissed as unimportant a controversy that preceded her departure from the St. Petersburg job in 2013. Cichon retired from that job following a city investigation as to whether she violated city policy by sending emails from her work computer that discussed her husband’s campaign for St. Petersburg City Council, according to a story in the Tampa Tribune. Cichon’s husband, Steve Galvin, lost that race to Amy Foster.

Cichon’s supervisor at the time, City Attorney John Wolfe, declined to say if she would have been fired had she not retired, according to the Tribune article.

"We had a talk; she volunteered to retire," he was quoted as saying.

During a Temple Terrace council meeting in October, when Cichon was being considered for the position, Council Member Cheri Donohue questioned whether Cichon had been fully forthcoming as to the reason she retired from the St. Petersburg job. Cichon had said that she retired to work on family projects.

Council member Andy Ross, also on the hiring committee, said the team checked her employment file in St. Petersburg and found nothing to suggest that she was forced out.

"There’s absolutely nothing in there pertaining to this allegation in the media; there’s no discipline, there’s no letter or reprimand; there’s no memos pertaining to this, there’s no indication that she was asked to leave or retire as a result of this.’’

The committee also checked with the Florida Bar Association and found "absolutely zero disciplinary history’’ over her 36-year career.

Irritated that people had "rushed to judgment’’ about Cichon based on an article in the media, Ross said, "This is not the way to treat people that apply for a job at the city.’’

Donohue said she was satisfied with Ross’ answer, and the council voted unanimously to hire Cichon.

She will be paid $125,000 per year. Connolly was on retainer for a minimum of $180,000 per year, said City Manager Charles Stephenson.

Cichon graduated with a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Florida and earned her law degree from Stetson University College of Law in St. Petersburg. She served as a senior assistant attorney general in the criminal appellate division of the Florida Department of Legal Affairs before becoming a senior assistant city attorney for St. Petersburg.

She represented St. Petersburg primarily in the areas of land use and zoning, labor and employment and torts. In Pinellas County, Cichon served concurrently as a Traffic Court Magistrate, a hearing officer for the school board, a magistrate for wage theft hearings, and as a housing authority hearing officer. She also has worked for the city of Tampa as a code enforcement board legal adviser.

Cichon is a member of the board and former chairwoman of Gulfcoast Legal Services. She is also the former chairwoman of the Florida Bar’s Government Lawyers Section and serves on its executive council. She has volunteered for the past six years with Lawyers for Literacy, tutoring third graders in reading comprehension.

Contact Philip Morgan at pmorgan@tampabay.com.

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