Color me shocked upon learning that the lawsuit filed by Kathleen Ford to force a citywide vote on the future of the Saint Petersburg Pier is spiraling into legal and political chaos.
The latest has it that Ford's lawsuit is distressing numerous signers of the incomprehensible petition to seek a referendum on the Pier's fate. Signers are being informed -- via a postcard (how quaint!) -- of their legal entanglement and that they must be a part of Ford's lawsuit either as a plaintiff or a defendant.
Michael P. Allen, a professor at Stetson University College of Law, is skeptical of Ford's latest tactic. "Ms. Ford seems to, through the waiver, be trying to say, if you sign this, then you don't need to be a party. I don't think that can be squared with the judge's order," he said, referring to a December ruling by Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Amy Williams that said each of the more than 15,000 petitioners is a necessary party to the case.
In other words, Ford doesn't know what the hell she is doing!
The truth about Kathleen Ford is that she's not a very good attorney, but she, like most shoddy attorneys, comes off as credible because she sounds like, well, an attorney. To sound smarter than you are is one of the first things you learn at law school.
Speaking of which, keep in mind that Ford's law degree is from South Texas College of Law, universally regarded as one of, if not THE, worst law schools in the United States. There are law schools in the Dominican Republic which garner more respect than South Texas.
Another thing to keep in mind when evaluating Ford's legal prowess is the fact that during the year before Ford last attempted to run for St. Petersburg Mayor, she made a whopping $35,634 from her legal work. Ask yourself this, do you know of any other lawyer earning such a small salary? I don't. Public defenders (bless their souls) do better than that. To contrast, Bill Foster, with his and his dad's will and probate mill, grinded out $180K a year.
Lawyers are, in part, measured by their billable hour rate and their salary. By that standard, Ford ranks pretty low on the totem pole.
By the way, this isn't the first time Ford has screwed up a citywide ballot initiative. I saw firsthand her intellectual clumsiness during POWW's effort to put a referendum on the ballot about public financing of a new stadium for the Tampa Bay Rays. The language Ford drafted for POWW's petition was so incomprehensible and unwieldy, it made signature gathering all but impossible.
It's this experience that has me in disbelief about the current debate over the future of the Pier; disbelief not in the level of rancor involved in the debate, but that, based on her twenty-year track record of being plain wrong, why anyone is still listening to Ford.