By Steve Plunkett
Buffeted by thousands of public records requests and dozens of lawsuits, mostly from two town residents, Gulf Stream now has a full-time staff attorney to handle the workload.
Edward “Trey” Nazzaro, who as a paralegal at Town Attorney John “Skip” Randolph’s law firm helped Gulf Stream write its public records procedures, started work at Town Hall in October.
“He is a man of great integrity, intelligence, and he knows most of us here,” Town Manager William Thrasher told commissioners Oct. 14.
Nazzaro has an annual salary of $87,500 plus pension, health insurance and other benefits, and office expenses. Thrasher moved $133,483 from “contract legal services” to cover the cost, leaving a net effect of zero on the town’s budget.
“We probably should have done it years ago,” Town Commissioner Joan Orthwein said.
Randolph will continue in his longtime role as town attorney.
Thrasher said there are “a lot of things” Nazzaro can do. “For example, today he is at calendar call [at the courthouse in West Palm Beach], standing and waiting to yell out, ‘Yes,’” he said.
Nazzaro’s pay translates to $61.77 per hour. “If you compare that to our lowest general or outside counsel, they use the figure $250; that’s a savings per hour of $188.23,” Thrasher said.
Nazzaro, who was an Eagle Scout before attending college, was editor-in-chief of the law review and graduated magna cum laude from St. Thomas University School of Law in Miami Gardens in 2014. That same year the Town Commission passed a resolution of appreciation for the work he did authoring Gulf Stream’s public records policy.
Nazzaro spent the past two years as a law clerk in federal court in Miami.
Mayor Scott Morgan, who also is a nonpracticing lawyer, said Nazzaro is “intimately familiar” with the town’s public records woes and would have plenty of work in his new position. “Almost any activity we consider here has legal ramifications,” Morgan said.
Resident Chris O’Hare complained that starting lawyers at the State Attorney’s Office earn around $50,000 a year and asked why the town did not let attorneys bid for the work. “It seems like a waste of taxpayer money,” said O’Hare, who has filed numerous lawsuits against the town over public records.
“That’s rich coming from you, Mr. O’Hare,” Morgan quickly responded. “You’re part of the problem that puts us in this situation.”
By Steve Plunkett