After resigning, former Tampa City Attorney Gina Grimes may return in new role

Grimes' resignation came after turmoil with city council and problems with her public record keeping.

click to enlarge Gina Grimes (left) and Mayor Jane Castor. - Photo via Jane Castor/Twitter
Photo via Jane Castor/Twitter
Gina Grimes (left) and Mayor Jane Castor.

Former Tampa City Attorney Gina Grimes resigned just over a month ago, and now the city says she's a favorite for a new "manager type" position.

Since her last official day as city attorney on Aug. 5 , Grimes has still been working at the city, serving in a four-week  transition period as Andrea Zelman takes on the role.

Last week, Zelman was officially confirmed by city council as the new city attorney, but only after multiple city council members asked if the animosity between Mayor Jane Castor's administration and council would stop now that Grimes was no longer in charge.

But today, City Communications Director Adam Smith said that Grimes is still working on staff, and that her last day is "tentatively" Sept. 16. Smith added that Grimes is being considered for working for the city in a new role after that.
"As part of her transition out of legal office, she has been looking into the prospect of the city creating an internal project manager type position to ensure accountability, efficiency, equity, etc. on the multiple major city projects in the works that overlap multiple city departments," Smith wrote via email to Creative Loafing Tampa Bay. "I know the mayor would love to have Gina in that role, but nothing has been decided."

When Grimes resigned in August, she said it was mainly because of bureaucratic rules, which require department heads to live within City of Tampa limits. Grimes, appointed to city attorney by Castor in 2019, is currently a resident of Pinellas County and has not lived in Tampa during her time as city attorney.

“Due to personal family circumstances, it is no longer feasible for me to relocate into the City of Tampa,” Grimes wrote in the memo announcing her resignation.

Earlier this year, CL reported that Grimes used her personal cellphone to communicate with an attorney who sued former councilman John Dingfelder out of office, in part, for using a personal email. Grimes declined to represent Dingfelder in the lawsuit.

Despite telling City Council members to not use their personal phones for city business, Grimes used hers to stay in regular contact with the attorney who sued Dingfelder, Ethan Loeb, during hours of phone calls between December and March of this year, according to documents obtained by CL.

Grimes also used her personal cell to discuss a property in Tampa city limits with Steven Michelini, a consultant for developer Jon Lum.

In Grimes' communications with Michelini, information from the texts was missing that he had sent to Grimes on Oct. 5, two days before Grimes said the city would not represent Dingfelder.

When CL asked where the images and PDFs were, the city attorney's office said that's how they appeared on Grime's phone when it was scanned as part of the request made by CL. All of the attachments in the records request said that they are stored in Apple's iCloud web storage service, but the city could not locate them—which infringes on the Sunshine Law, that requires public records be maintained.

Details about any potential new position for Grimes—including which Sunshine Laws she would be subject to—are still unclear.

Grimes formerly served as chief assistant city attorney and city council attorney for the city from 1985-2004. Before returning to the city in 2019, she worked as a land-use attorney with Hill Ward Henderson.

“I have worked with Gina Grimes for over two decades. She is an incredible attorney who has built the best law firm in Tampa. An amazing team that continues to serve all of our varied community needs," Castor said when Grimes resigned. "I am grateful for her service and friendship. No doubt she will continue to follow her servant heart. “

About The Author

Justin Garcia

Justin Garcia has written for The Nation, Investigative Reporters & Editors Journal, the USA Today Network and various other news outlets. When he's not writing, Justin likes to make music, read, play basketball and spend time with loved ones. 

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