MEG A. WITTMER
SARASOTA COUNTY, FLORIDA
CODE ENFORCEMENT
SPECIAL MAGISTRATE


Sarasota County Commissioners
A CONTRACTOR’S NIGHTMARE!


In the world of construction and contracting there exists a side of the industry few are aware of. An unseen army of regulators, attorneys, inspectors, code enforcement officers and special magistrates, among many others. Florida is perhaps one of the strictest states when it comes to regulating the construction industry and enforcing the building code. In addition to regulation and enforcement by state agencies, Florida law allows every single municipality and county to enact ordinances, create local building departments with their own inspector and enforcement officers, and form regulatory or local licensing Boards, as well as code enforcement courts governed by special magistrates.

In
Sarasota County, Florida, the County Commissioners have developed a system where under trained and unsupervised “code enforcement officers” are encouraged to check on job sites, bully contractors and intimidate customers while “investigating” for code violations. When violations are discovered those officers write citations to the contractor, subcontractor or property owners responsible for the alleged violation.

Guy McCauley Kathleen Croteau
Any person who is issued a citation in Sarasota County is allowed to challenge it by requesting an administrative hearing in front of a “special magistrate” who is nothing more than a local attorney hired by the County Commissioners.
Sarasota County has two special magistrates that are paid an exorbitant amount $175.00 hourly wage, an amount significantly higher than the hourly equivalent paid to the United State Supreme Justices.


Since February 2017 I have experienced a nightmare no contractor should have to experience.
Sarasota County code enforcement personnel have targeted me in retaliation for complaints I filed against them and as favor to a local politician that was dissatisfied with my services.

The ensuing legal battle brought me before special magistrate
Meg A. Wittmer on several unforgettable occasions. The average citizen would expect a special magistrate to be professional, fair and neutral. Meg Wittmer possesses none of these qualities and the people of Sarasota County deserve better from those that represent the interests of its citizens and accept ridiculous compensation taken from hard earned tax dollars.

My name is S. Paizes, I am State of Florida Division I Licensed Building Contractor, Division II Unlimited Roofing Contractor and Division II "Class A" Air Conditioning Contractor.

Harvey Ayers Liar

I am the owner and operator of Florida Home Improvement Services, Inc.

Let me share my experiences with
Meg Wittmer:

In August and September 2017, I received a total of five citations from
Sarasota County Code Enforcement officer Harvey Ayers alleging code violations at three different properties.

Every person who visits this website should also visit
http://harveyayers.com What you learn about Harvey Ayers will shock any reasonable person and leave you wondering why Sarasota County would hire a man with such a sordid history and reputation.

HARBEY AYERS INCOMPETENT AND CORRUPT
The citations written by Harvey Ayers were factually and legally unfounded and were nothing more that retaliation against me for filing complaints regarding code enforcement personnel. I was unwilling to accept the bogus citations and pay the small fines required, and instead exercise my right to challenge the citations in front of a special magistrate who happened to be Meg Wittmer.


Attorney
Meg A. Wittmer a member of the Florida Bar, is assigned as a special magistrate overseeing administrative code enforcement proceedings in Sarasota County, Florida, selected to her position by the Sarasota County Commissioners.


"SECTION 5: Section 2-345 of the Sarasota County Code : Sec. 2-345 – Special Magistrates. (1) Special Magistrates shall be attorneys at law, licensed to practice in Florida, residents of Sarasota County, and possess outstanding reputations for civic pride, interest, integrity, responsibility, and business or professional ability."
Harvey Ayers
On October 6, 2017, I appeared before Wittmer in administrative hearings and was surprised by the confrontational, impatient, unprofessional and bias manner in which Wittmer conducted herself and the hearing.


Specifically,
Wittmer treated me and others like common criminals, refused to allow us to present defenses or evidence and displayed apparent favor to the County. Following the hearings, I began to research Wittmer in an attempt to ascertain why she conducted herself in such an unprofessional manner.

First, I discovered that from 1990 until 2000 Wittmer was an Assistant Sarasota County Attorney, which explains her obvious favor for the County. Research also revealed that Meg Wittmer is a "managing member" of Park East Ventures, LLC, a real estate development company, which I entered into a contract with in January 2013 for demolition, and site stabilization of a property owned by her company.

Upon completion of the contract, representatives of Park East Ventures LLC expressed dissatisfaction and displeasure with my work due to unforeseen delays that were no fault of my own.

There is no question that, as a managing member of Park East Ventures who contracted with my company,
Meg Wittmer had a clear conflict of interest that should have prevented her from presiding over my code citation cases.

Due to this conflict and that fact that
Meg Wittmer was assigned to preside over additional hearings I requested, I filed a “motion to disqualify special magistrate”. Meg Wittmer refused to issue a ruling on my motion.

Sarasota County Harvey Ayers

At the December 15, 2017 hearing, Meg Wittmer finally denied the motion to disqualify. Meg Wittmer reasoned that disqualification was not warranted because she had never met me nor had any involvement with me with respect to her position with Park East Ventures when the company contracted with me.

Meg Wittmer stated that her position as a managing member of Park East Ventures was immaterial to her duties as a special magistrate. By refusing to recuse herself Meg Wittmer violated the Rules Regulating the Florida Bar and relevant Florida Statutes in the face of such a clear and undeniable conflict with myself. Although Magistrate Meg Wittmer is not governed by the same rules as real Judges, she must still maintain an appearance and reality of neutrality in her position as a magistrate over code enforcement proceedings.

Any attorney, whether a special magistrate or private attorney, is required by the basic rules of ethics to identify and avoid any potential conflicts of interest they may encounter.

Harvey Ayers
There can be no other reason besides the obvious conflict to reasonably explain why Meg Wittmer acted in such an undignified and discourteous manner.


The following behavior by the Magistrate at the December 15, 2017, hearing demonstrates an escalating pattern of biasness:

During the hearing the County called
Harvey Ayers to testify and I attempted to discredit his reliability as a witness, and was successful in impeaching Harvey Ayers based off previous testimony Harvey Ayers gave.

Specifically, I asked
Harvey Ayers:

"Q: [Mr. Paizes] Does your position with Sarasota County Code Enforcement require honesty and integrity?"

A: [
Harvey Ayers] Yes.

Q: In your years of public service; you are in a public service position right now am I correct?

A: Yes. Q: Have you ever been found to be dishonest'? A: (Pause) No, sir.

BY MR. PAIZES: Special Magistrate
Meg Wittmer, I have substantial evidence that Mr. Harvey Ayers has told another untruthfulness or a lie whatever you want to call it. I believe that the credibility of the witness is in question here and now I have two objections to Mr. Ayers' credibility, he has just lied and said he has never been dishonest. The integrity of these proceedings and swearing under oath is vital to a proper defense, a proper prosecution of Sarasota County and when a witness makes a comment that he has never been dishonest which is now on the record and I have this (indicating public records detailing Harvey Ayers' history) from the City of Punta Gorda, where he was found to be untruthful after more than 40 Internal Affairs Investigations, plus, plus, plus...

ANSWER by
Harvey Ayers: I have no problem answering any questions Your Honor. I can maybe clear this up. Yes, Your Honor, I have not been dishonest, I have not ever been accused of or found to be perjured or false statements in my entire career in law enforcement or in code enforcement, I was ultimately terminated from the Punta Gorda Police Department yes, I did, but not for lying or for perjury or for false statements. They were policy violations. I have never been untruthful, I have no reason to lie and I am not going to lie today and I am going to be completely upfront and honest."

Sarasota County Government Code Enforcement Harvey Ayers

It should be noted that Harvey Ayers was terminated as a sworn City of Punta Gorda police officer after nearly 40 internal affairs investigations. Among the investigations that lead to his firing were sustained policy violations of untruthfulness and conduct unbecoming an officer. However, the City of Punta Gorda later agreed to supplement the police chief’s reasons for firing Harvey Ayers to state that the untruthfulness and conduct unbecoming charges to be “unsustained”. The City’s decision in this regard was apparently only made in order to avoid any civil litigation that may arise as a result of his high profile termination. I have contacted the City of Punta Gorda who has stated that no supplement was ultimately drafted or made a part of Harvey Ayer’s personnel file. To learn more visit http://harveyayers.com.

Harvey Ayers FDLE
NOTE the NO MORAL CHARACTER ENTRY ABOVE
Harvey Ayers No Moral Character

Incredibly, magistrate Meg Wittmer began to defend Harvey Ayers and attempted to explain his perjured testimony, while entirely mischaracterizing my question before finding the line of questioning to be irrelevant and ordering me to move on. It is amazing to me that any person in any authoritative position in Sarasota County would defend a person like Harvey Ayers who has been accused of rape, abusing prisoners, sexual relations while on duty as a police officer, taunting a mentally handicapped boy, and countless violations of numerous citizens’ civil rights. There is no excuse or justification for this type of behavior and Meg Wittmer's acceptance of such is deplorable and proves that she will seek to such low levels to advance her bias behavior.

In addition to defending and diverting attention away from
Harvey Ayers, Meg Wittmer, during the hearing, began to assist the County in prosecuting the case against me, losing all objectivity and any appearance of being neutral.

I successfully moved to exclude the County's witness, due to the County's failure to timely provide its witness list as required by Sarasota County Code Enforcement Ordinance 2-347(g). Once it became apparent that the County would be unable to prove the alleged violation, this magistrate Meg Wittmer announced her intention to recess the hearing until February 9, 2018, at which time she would take testimony from the witness. I objected, arguing that the witness was already excluded by rule. Magistrate Meg Wittmer overruled the objection, stating that the County was not requesting the witness, she was.

The truth about Sarasota County, Corruption
After denying my legal motion to disqualify, Meg Wittmer continued to preside over the administrative hearing on December 15, 2017, challenging the citations. Sarasota County has an ordinance that required the County to give me a list of the witnesses it planned to call to testify at the hearing at least three business days prior to the hearing. The County did not provide a witness list in this case. Then, when the County tried to call its witnesses at the hearing I objected and referred to the ordinance, which clearly states that the witnesses cannot testify if the County failed to disclose them. Meg Wittmer sustained my objection and ruled that informed the County’s witness would not be permitted to testify.


As the hearing progressed Meg Wittmer became increasingly hostile and bias in the manner in which she conducted the hearing.

It became apparent that the County would be unable to prove its case without being able to call its witness.
Meg Wittmer recognized the deficiency in the County's case and became an advocate for the County by recessing the hearing until February 9, 2018, and declaring that the witness would be permitted to testify at that time. I objected and told Meg Wittmer I thought she was assisting the County to try and prove its case.

Meg Wittmer overruled my objection and stated that the County was no longer requesting the witness, she was, then recessed the hearing until February 9, 2018. Before the February 9, 2018, hearing, the County conveniently furnished a witness list for the continued. By continuing the hearing, Meg Wittmer allowed the County to correct its procedural deficiency, became a participant in the proceeding, and impaired her already questionable neutrality by actively seeking out the presentation of additional evidence and testimony in the case.

On February 9, 2018, I appeared in front of Magistrate Meg Wittmer for the continued hearing, and was met with an intensified disdain and unprofessionalism worse than the previous hearing.

In the legal world there is what’s known as “
ex parte communication” which is a Latin legal term describing when one side of a legal proceeding improperly communicates with the judge or special magistrate concerning the case without the opposing side being present, or a part of the communication. Ex parte communication is extremely unethical and borderline illegal.

Sarasota County Corruption

The following exchange during the hearing establishes impermissible ex parte communication between special magistrate Meg Wittmer and Sarasota County Attorney Scott Bossard:
"THE COURT: [Wittmer] Okay. So what I'm going to do is I'm going to reserve ruling on this issue. I'm going to allow -- I'm going to allow Mr. Paizes to review your [Bossard's] response.

MR. BOSSARD; (Unintelligible)

THE COURT: I don't have my computer with me. I would like to be able to look at the annotated on that, pull it up on Westlaw and look at the annotated version of that particular statute to see if there's any cases that directly apply that are on point. I don't know if you did that or not.

MR. BOSSARD: No, I did not this morning.

THE COURT: So, like I said, if I had my computer, I would pull up Westlaw right now and do it. I don't. So what I'm going to do right now is I'm going to take a ten-minute break. I'm going to allow him to review that response.
And can you run upstairs and see if you can —

MR. BOSSARD: Sure, I can look --

THE COURT:
-- check the annotated on that?

MR. PAIZES: Okay. I think Mr. Bossard has a fancy cell phone.

THE COURT: That's now how it works, sir. Okay?

MR. PAIZES: Now you're giving him time to go and prepare a defense.

THE COURT: I am not giving him time. I'm asking -- I have two –
I'm reserving my ruling. I can do it myself.

MR. PAIZES: I understand that.

THE COURT: Okay. I can do it myself. I asked him to do one thing for me. I don't have my computer with me. That's perfectly fine. Then we can just -- we'll recess, and I'll go do it myself. How about that?

MR. PAIZES:
I still think you're helping the prosecution.

THE COURT: Can I have -- can –

MR. PAIZES- I think you're helping the prosecution.

THE COURT: Please sir. I have a right to know the law. You have brought up an issue. I want to understand what the law is.

MR. PAIZES: That's fine.

THE COURT: It's my job to understand what the law is. Please don't tell me who I'm assisting and who I'm helping. Okay? I'm here to understand the law. You know what, if there is no annotation and there is no regulation or -- or case that suggests that this does not have to be followed, then it ben- --benefits you. So please don't tell me -- I'm not going to do this all afternoon

MR. PAIZES: I -- I apologize.

THE COURT: -- you telling me.

MR. PAIZES: I apologize.

THE COURT: You've been pushing the limit all along, and I'm not going to do it this afternoon.

MR. PAIZES:
I'm just trying to protect my rights, that's all.

THE COURT: You can protect your rights, but you will not be disrespectful or insulting.

MR. PAIZES:
I don't mean to be disrespectful.

THE COURT:
No, you did.

MR. PAIZES:
I did not, ma'am.

THE COURT: We're recessing for ten minutes.

MR. PAIZES: No disrespect.

MR. BOSSARD: (Unintelligible).

THE COURT:
Will you take me upstairs so I can pull up Westlaw on your computer?

MR. BOSSARD: Sure. (Recess)

It should be noted that Special Magistrate Meg Wittmer, left the hearing room together with Sarasota County Assistant Attorney Scott Bossard then returned together. At no time was I present during the ex-parte communications that took place. Following the hearing I submitted a public records request to Sarasota County to obtain computer usage logs in order to ascertain whether Meg Wittmer and Bossard did in fact go to westlaw.com. The log clearly shows that no Sarasota County employee logged onto westlaw.com during the recess.
Sarasota County Code Enforcement Harvey Ayers MP MORALITY
THE COURT: -- the record as of 1:18 p.m. on Friday, February 9, 2018. I've had an opportunity to look at all the case law that is annotated and attached to this particular statute as well as statutory construction. At this time, Mr. Bossard, do you have any statement you'd like to make before I make a ruling?

MR. BOSSARD: Yes, Your Honor. I'm trying to find the new code language involving the prosecutorial discretion in these cases, but not having that handy at this very moment I'm unable to exercise the prosecutor's right at this time to voluntarily dismiss all four citations without prejudice for refiling at a later date.

THE COURT: Your -- your request is granted.

MR. PAIZES: Okay. I'm sorry. What just happened?

THE COURT: The cases were just dismissed.

MR. PAIZES: Which cases, ma'am? I'm sorry.

THE COURT: Cases CC-17-34 --

MR. PAIZES: They were all dismissed?

THE COURT: All four cases were dismissed –

MR. PAIZES- Okay.

THE COURT: -- with --

MR. PAIZES: And I didn't mean any disrespect.

THE COURT:
You know what, don't, don't. Okay. Just don't.

MR. PAIZES: Ma'am.

THE COURT: Excuse me. No, I’m not done. I said they were dismissed without prejudice to refile to correct the violation, any type of technical imperfection in the notice..."

To view the entire transcript click here.

It is clear and undeniable from the record that Meg Wittmer and Bossard, both seasoned members of the Florida Bar, engaged in ex parte communication that entailed critical matters of strategy that went to the merits of the case.

Meg Wittmer and Bossard, outside of my presence, researched the issue together and jointly discussed strategy. In addition, following the illegal ex parte communication, neither Meg Wittmer nor Bossard disclosed the nature of their communication to me.

Within just days after the February 9, 2018, hearing, the County immediately reissued the citations it voluntarily dismissed.

The fact that
Meg Wittmer is only a special magistrate does not preclude her from conducting herself and her administrative forum in a professional manner, or from abstaining from ex parte communication. Meg Wittmer has been a member of the Florida Bar since 1990. She is familiar with what conduct is impermissible, unethical and inappropriate. Meg Wittmer is aware that ex parte communication between any parties and a governing authority, whether it be a judge, board member, magistrate, etc., is highly unusual and a violation of the Rules Regulating the Florida Bar, relevant Florida Statutes, and state and federal jurisprudence.

Furthermore, I am certain that
Meg Wittmer has engaged in a wide range of impermissible ex parte communications with Scott Bossard, Sarasota County Code Enforcement Officer Harvey Ayers and Sarasota County Deputy Building Official Guy McCauley.

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I have been prejudiced greatly by Meg Wittmer's unethical and inappropriate behavior. Rather than disqualify herself from presiding over the administrative hearings in this case, Meg Wittmer became confrontational, retaliatory and aggressive toward me for challenging what she apparently sees as her authority over contractors. I have suffered the wrath of Meg Wittmer because I chose to exercise my rights and challenge that authority. Meg Wittmer should not punish contractors or treat them unfairly simply because he they have exercised their constitutional rights. I have devoted a substantial amount of time and manpower into defending myself against the unfounded and legally unsupported citations issued by Sarasota County code enforcement officer Harvey Ayers.

I have been forced to sacrifice significant financial and emotional resources into challenging
Meg Wittmer's rulings, either through appeals in the circuit court or petition(s) for writ of prohibition. These sacrifices have been unnecessary and are the result of Meg Wittmer not following the law.

Transcripts of the proceedings do not fairly portray the character of the administrative hearings or how
Meg Wittmer conducts herself during the hearings. Any person reading this should review the review the audio recordings and transcripts of the hearings in order to accurately understand the character of the hearings and the behavior of Meg Wittmer. Additionally, the audio and transcripts do not display Meg Wittmer's body language and facial scowls during these hearings, which further compound her inappropriate and unprofessional behavior. Meg Wittmer has consistently conducted herself in an undignified and discourteous manner that removes the perception of integrity and impartiality of her role as a special magistrate. This is not the type of behavior one would expect from an employee of Sarasota County.

CONCLUSION: The citizens of Sarasota County, whose hard earned tax dollars pay Meg Wittmer's ridiculous hourly salary, deserve better…much better!


Click here To hear the audio of Harvey Ayers Lying Under Oath in an Administrative Hearing

Meg Wittmer Special Magistrate Sarasota Bad




MEG WITTMER READ THE CONSTITUTION


Harvey Ayers Sarasota