Times editorial page joins with Tribune in calling for Renee Lee to be sacked

The Times writes about the current controversy about the (now we have discovered) two lunches the pair enjoyed and the impropriety of those meetings, calling them a "gross error in judgment that may bring legal ramifications for the county." The editorial concludes:

The lunch, though, is really just another scene in a tiresome drama that inevitably calls into question Lee's judgment, candor and leadership abilities. She still has not adequately explained her role in the county's pay raise and e-mail snooping scandal last year. Though her pay is set under contract with the commission, Lee received a pay raise without the board's knowledge after she issued a legal opinion declaring herself eligible for one. Her recollection of how the raise came about does not square with the story of one key aide. And state investigators found that Lee likely lied about what prompted her to order a search of documents related to a criminal probe of the pay raises.

Nothing is more essential to the attorney-client relationship than trust. The board should fire Lee; she has several assistants perfectly capable of managing the office on a temporary basis. Commissioners need a comfort level with their attorney — not more misunderstandings.

The Times also states what most members of the board said last week in putting the Lee issue at the top of their agenda on Thursday: That the woman deserves her day in, well, not exactly court, but at least up on the dais, giving her version of what exactly was going through her mind when she initiated contact with White, and, according to the testimony of White, appearing to sound as if she was selling out the agency (and taxpayers) that she works for.

One thing needs to be understood here though - the reporting in the local dailies today comes from one source - Kevin White. White appears to have no problem in selling out someone who presumably was a friend (in White's testimony, he says that Lee picked up the check for their initial lunch at Ocean Prime restaurant, a lunch previously not reported on); at their second get together at Roy's, the former commissioner says he left $25 to cover his tab. Lee's account get very well be different - though if there were two lunches, we indeed have come along way since reports of their encounter at Roy's was simply a matter of the two "bumping into each other," as she originally recounted to two county commissioners.

You may recall a year ago that Lee was in a similar situation, where her job was on the line. However, she shared the spotlight with now former Administrator Pat Bean - both were on the spot for their 1 percent pay raises they received in 2007.

At that time, members of the black community in Hillsborough made a statement by coming out in numbers to show their support in person for the beleaguered county attorney; even their support on Thursday, however, may not be enough to save her career with this county government.


A day before the Board of Hillsborough County Commissioners are to potentially decide her fate, testimony from a recent deposition given by Kevin White has hit the local press - and the disgraced former commissioner is casting his friend and former colleague - County Attorney Renee Lee - as somewhat of a stalker.

The soap opera is relevant to public policy as the county is suing White to have him pay up the more than $400,000 that taxpayers spent defending him in his lawsuit against his former aide in his sexual harassment lawsuit - with White countersuing.

The news drops on the same day that the St. Petersburg Times editorial page has declared that Lee should be fired, joining in with a similarly stated opinion days ago by the Tampa Tribune.

Scroll to read more News Feature articles
Join the Creative Loafing Tampa Bay Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state.
Help us keep this coverage going with a one-time donation or an ongoing membership pledge.


Join Creative Loafing Tampa Bay Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Creative Loafing Tampa Bay. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Creative Loafing Tampa Bay, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at [email protected]