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County Attorney Jim Bennett earns another good review, although not better than last year’s

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Upon quick review, Pinellas County Attorney Jim Bennett‘s annual performance review was pretty good.

In a numerical rating system where a total of 400 points were available, Bennett earned 352.3, or 88 percent of all possible points. Those numbers equate to a review that’s between “good” and “excellent,” according to the review’s rating criteria.

There is, however, one noticeably hairy little fly in the ointment. Last year, Bennett scored a 93 percent.

In the review, each of Pinellas’ seven county commissioners rated Bennett on a scale of one to four in seven separate categories, six of which had multiple, ratable sub-categories.

Percentage-wise, the “leadership” category — the only one not to have sub-categories — was the lone area where Bennett’s approval rating didn’t drop from last year. It stayed the same, remaining at a respectable 90 percent.

Similarly to his last annual review, Bennett fared very well in his “integrity” ratings, earning 99 percent of the total possible points there, only having dropped one percentage point from last year, when he earned a flawless 100 percent.

However, three of the review’s more technical categories each showed a 3 percent ratings tumble for Bennett this year. His “provision of major legal services” approval rating came in at 88 percent; his “organizational and planning management” rating was 85 percent; and his “staff effectiveness” rating was at 91 percent.

The second biggest ratings fall for Bennett came in the review’s “routine internal activities” section, where he earned himself 90 percent of the total possible points available. Compare that figure to last year’s, which showed Bennett earning a near-perfect 98 percent approval rating in the category.

Perhaps the only area of the review where the county attorney took a real hit was in the “communication” section. Last year, he garnered 87 percent of the total possible points this category had to offer. This year, he fell an entire 10 percentage points, bringing his score down to only 77 percent of what it could have been.

Both Commissioners Charlie Justice and Janet Long gave Bennett his two collectively lowest scores in the communication department, which equated to only “satisfactory” marks for Bennett from Justice and Long. The two commissioners also gave him the least number of “excellent” marks on their overall reviews of Bennett.

Commissioner John Morroni, who is also chairman of the board, remained — as far as the review numbers go — Bennett’s most staunch supporter, having given the county attorney perfect scores all across the board, just as he did a year ago.

Commissioner Ken Welch also gave Bennett a very favorable performance review for the second year in a row, though not quite a complete perfect score.

“Jim continues to provide excellent legal counsel to the BCC,” wrote Welch at the bottom of his review form.

County commissioners are slated to discuss the county attorney review publicly at their Aug. 18 regular meeting. It’s currently a county-appointed position.

Devon Crumpacker is a Tampa Bay based writer and reporter for Extensive Enterprises Media. He primarily covers Pinellas County politics for SaintPetersblog.com, but also makes time to write the occasional bar review for FloridaBarTab.com. He lives in St. Petersburg with his fiance, Sydney. To contact, e-mail devon@floridapolitics.com, or visit his Twitter page @DevonCrumpacker.

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