The graveyard deal that helped bury John Dingfelder’s future on the Tampa City Council

A decision to rezone parts of a Tampa cemetery dedicated to carnival and circus workers played a role in the city council’s career death in John Dingfelderaccording to documents from the city of Tampa.

Monday, Dingfelder tendered his resignation under a settlement agreement between him and the development consultant Stephane Michelini during public records trial. Last month, Michelini, through his lawyer, Ethan Loeb, filed an ethics complaint against Dingfelder with the city’s legal team. Dingfelder was charged with violating Florida’s Sunshine Laws and using his position on the city council to curry favor.

In response, the city attorney Gina Grimes and staff reviewed hundreds of text messages and emails from Dingfelder.

“We have discovered numerous emails and text messages to and from you that create issues with the City of Tampa Code of Ethics and/or the State Code of Ethics,” Grimes wrote to Dingfelder on Friday. morning. “Further assessment and examination of ethical issues is needed.”

Dingfelder received a list of 18 potential ethics violations between February and September 2021. The majority of them involved the Showman’s Rest cemetery. The Showman’s Association was looking to sell the 50-year-old Tampa Heights Cemetery to Skyline 41 Investments. Dingfelder was the listed realtor. But Skyline President Steven Eshkenazi at the same time was looking to rezone part of the cemetery along North Boulevard to build 15 houses.

Florida law prohibits “adversarial employment or contractual relationships” and city code prohibits “the representation of private individuals before any government unit of which you are a member,” Grimes told Dingfelder in his letter. She also identified eight instances in which he potentially raped both.

In an April post, Dingfelder recommended two attorneys to Eshkenazi for representation. A, Tyler Hudson, liquidated representing Eshkenazi. Dingfelder communicated with Hudson about the project as the land use process went through the Planning Commission. Dingfelder has also had several communications with staff regarding issues with the property and a potential re-sale. The land use change proposed by Eshkenazi was eventually abandoned.

In one case, he asked Alex AwaD, a Tampa stormwater engineer, to meet at the property to discuss sewer and wetland issues. He told Awad he had “his realtor hat on,” according to city documents.

Grimes attempted to schedule a meeting with Dingfelder for the following week to discuss the matter, but within hours she received another letter from Loeb. The latter stating that Dingfelder had agreed to resign as part of a settlement in the lawsuit. Loeb also said he was withdrawing the ethics complaint.

Part of the deal also called for Dingfelder to write a letter of apology to Michelini and forbid him from discussing the lawsuit. He is also not allowed to run for another seat on city council or mayor for five years. He is also barred from being appointed to a city council with land use or zoning authority for the same period.


Dingfelder could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.

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