CEO 90-55 -- July 27, 1990







To:      Mr. Michael S. Davis, City Attorney, City of St. Petersburg




A city mayor is not required by Section 112.3143(3), Florida Statutes, to abstain from voting on measures involving the expansion and renovation of a yacht club of which he is a member, when there is no indication he is retained by the club or that he personally will benefit from the measure.  The mayor would have the option of abstaining under such circumstances, should he choose to do so, as provided in Section 286.012, Florida Statutes.




Is a city mayor, who is one of approximately 2,000 members of a yacht club located within the City, required to abstain from voting on measures involving the proposed expansion and renovation of the club?


Under the described circumstances, your question is answered in the negative.


In your letter of inquiry, you advise that Robert Ulrich, the Mayor of St. Petersburg, is a member of a local yacht club.  The club is a non-stock ownership, non-profit corporation with over 2,000 members.  The members have no vested interests in the club's assets, and the Mayor is neither an officer nor director of the club.

The Club sought and gained the recommendation of the City Environmental Development Commission (EDC) to modify an existing site plan and to vacate a City street in front of the club in order to accommodate the club's proposed expansion and renovation.  The vacation of the street will permit the club to use approximately one-half of the right-of-way adjacent to its property.  The club's request to modify its site plan, including the granting of several variances, was approved by the EDC, but this decision has been appealed to the City Council.   You wish to know if the Mayor may vote on the EDC recommendation to vacate the street or on the appeal from the grant of the site plan modification.

In regard to your question, Section 112.3143(3), Florida Statutes, provides:


No county, municipal, or other local public officer shall vote in his official capacity upon any measure which inures to his special private gain or shall knowingly vote in his official capacity upon any measure which inures to the special gain of any principal, other than an agency as defined in s. 112.312(2), by whom he is retained.  Such public officer shall, prior to the vote being taken, publicly state to the assembly the nature of his interest in the matter from which he is abstaining from voting and, within 15 days after the vote occurs, disclose the nature of his interest as a public record in a memorandum filed with the person responsible for recording the minutes of the meeting, who shall incorporate the memorandum in the  minutes.  However, a commissioner of a community redevelopment agency created or designated pursuant to s. 163.356 or s. 163.357 or an officer of an independent special tax district elected on a one-acre, one-vote basis is not prohibited from voting.


Since you indicate that the Mayor is neither employed nor retained by the club, this statutory provision would prohibit the Mayor from voting only if he would derive a special private gain from the measure before the Council.  It does not appear from the facts you have provided that either vote will involve a special private gain personal to the Mayor.  The club's membership is extremely large, as the Mayor is one of approximately 2,000 members, and there is no indication that the vote will involve any benefit unique to the Mayor.  See, for example, CEO 85-62, in which a council member was not prohibited from voting on an ordinance providing site specific zoning for a redevelopment area, where the council member's corporation owned one acre within several square miles included in the redevelopment area.  Therefore, we are of the opinion that Section 112.3143(3) would not require the subject mayor to abstain.

If the Mayor wishes to abstain to avoid the appearance of impropriety, we have opined under similar circumstances in the past that he would be permitted to do so.  See for example, CEO 87-13. Abstention under such circumstances would be strictly voluntary.

Accordingly, we find that the subject Mayor is not required to abstain from voting on measures involving the renovation of a yacht club of which he is a member, when there is no indication that he will receive any special private gain.