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MIAMI LAKES (CBSMiami) – The attorney for Michael Pizzi, the suspended mayor of Miami Lakes, said he expects Pizzi to return to office.
According to Benedict Kuehne, he expects Governor Rick Scott to revoke and rescind the suspension order immediately.
This comes after the Florida Supreme Court ruled in favor of Pizzi, Monday, and gave Governor Scott 11 days to lift the suspension.
“My name is Michael Pizzi and I am the mayor of the great, beautiful, wonderful town of Miami Lakes,” Pizzi said Monday night.
Scott issued the new executive order Monday evening to revoke the suspension.
While the suspension is revoked, the order from the Supreme Court does not require Pizzi be put back in office.
Suspended Mayor Michael Pizzi was acquitted of federal bribery charges in August and requested Miami Lakes reinstate him as Mayor.
“It was completely ridiculous,” said Pizzi. “I never should’ve been charged, I never should’ve been removed and I should have been reinstated as Mayor the day I was exonerated, so I feel relief.”
Pizzi set off a long legal battle to be reinstated to the office.
The town’s charter does not fully explain whether after a person is cleared of charges should reinstated to the position.
Kuehne said he expects the temporary Mayor of Miami Lakes, Wayne Slaton, to step aside for Pizzi to return to his seat through 2016.
According to CBS4 news partner, The Miami Herald, Town Attorney Raul Gastesi maintained Monday that Miami Lakes has a mayor picked by voters in a special election — and stressed that Florida’s high court “has only ordered the governor to lift the mayor’s suspension,” not return him to office.
Miami Lakes responded Monday night with this statement:
This evening Florida Governor Rick Scott issued Executive Order 14-327 revoking the suspension of Michael Pizzi. Consistent with the Order issued by the Florida Supreme Court this afternoon, Governor Scott maintains the position that the mayor’s seat has been permanently filled by Mayor Wayne Slaton (by Special Election as mandated by the Town of Miami Lakes Charter) since October 2013 until the next regularly scheduled election in November 2016.
In Monday’s decision, the five justices in the majority wrote that they “carefully considered” Scott’s response. But they concluded that, under the Florida Constitution, the governor has the discretion only to suspend an indicted municipal officer.
“However, upon acquittal of criminal charges, the governing statute states that the Governor has a mandatory duty to revoke the order that authorized the municipal officer’s suspension,” the court wrote.
Pizzi’s attorney has said he will seek a court order to return Pizzi to the office if Miami Lakes does not comply.
“Once again the court has recognized my election to mayor in August 2013 as the permanent mayor of the Town of Miami Lakes until November of 2016,” said Pizzi.
In the majority were Chief Justice Jorge Labarga and Justices Barbara Pariente, R. Fred Lewis, Peggy Quince and James E.C. Perry. Justices Charles Canady and Ricky Polston dissented.
The majority opinion, while not naming Slaton, notes that Miami Lakes’ “permanent replacement mayor assumed office on October 8, 2013, and the new mayor’s term will run until the next regularly scheduled election in November 2016.”
The two justices who dissented argued that Florida law ties lifting a suspension to reinstating someone to office.
Since Pizzi did not ask the court to go that far, “it is not clear that the linked act of revoking the order of suspension is required,” Canady wrote on behalf of himself and Polston.
“And it is not clear that the Petitioner would benefit in any way from the act of revocation unaccompanied by an act of restoration.”
Residents of Miami Lakes were not short on words Monday night after hearing the news.
“It is very difficult. This is a very divided town.” said Xiomara Castillo. “Well, if it was up to you and you had your say, what would you want to see happen?” asked CBS4 reporter Summer Knowles.
“I’d like to see the best for the town happen. Whatever is best for the town that is what I would like to see happen,” Castillo replied.
“If the people want him… I don’t want him,” said another resident.
(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald contributed material for this report.)
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