By Jane Smith

Delray Beach says its mayor should be allowed to vote in the Nov. 20 termination hearing for the city manager and that it has sent him most of the public records he requested.

In a Nov. 13 response to suspended City Manager George Gretsas' lawsuit against Delray Beach, the city offered an opinion by a staff attorney with the Florida Commission on Ethics regarding Mayor Shelly Petrolia.

"It is difficult ... to see how a vote to discharge the City Manager would create any economic benefit or harm for you or for your relatives, principals, or business associates," Steven J. Zuilkowski wrote on Nov. 6.

Gretsas seeks to bar Petrolia from participating in the termination hearing because of her "clear bias against" him.

Gretsas' lawyers could not be reached for comment on Nov. 14. Circuit Judge John Kastrenakes has scheduled a virtual hearing on the lawsuit on Nov. 17.

In its response Delray Beach also said Gretsas submitted only 64 records requests and was given most of them -- including a text message exchange between Petrolia and former Assistant City Manager Suzanne Fisher.

His request sought texts on both city-issued and personal cellphones between Nov. 1, 2019, and July 22 and was filled on Aug. 13, the city said.

The response also included an Oct. 15 email from City Attorney Lynn Gelin to Gretsas' previous lawyer:

"Due to the nature of the request and the fact that it spans an entire year of records for multiple individuals and media, there are more than 10,000 records that have to be reviewed," she wrote, adding emphasis.

The City Commission suspended Gretsas with pay on June 24 after Fisher complained he had bullied her. On Aug. 24 internal auditor Julia Davidyan said Gretsas also had violated the City Charter.

On Oct. 20 Gretsas hired new lawyers and asked to postpone the originally planned Oct. 23 termination hearing. Commissioners agreed but ended paying his $265,000 annual salary and benefits in exchange.

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